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Misconceptions About Evolution, Part 2
Evolutionary theory is not in crisis; scientists accept evolution as the best explanation for life's diversity because of the multiple lines of evidence supporting it, its broad power to explain biological phenomena, and its ability to make accurate predictions in a wide variety of situations.
Misconceptions About Evolution, Part 1
The website Understanding Evolution, hosted by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, offers its readers numerous helpful resources regarding the science and history of evolutionary biology.
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Evolution and Christian Faith Grantees Announced
Where are the Transitional Fossils?
A common argument leveled against the theory of evolution is that scientists have not been able to produce transitional fossils that show the change of one species into another. In this podcast, we address a common misconception about what transitional fossils actually are.
Series: Understanding Evolution: Theory, Prediction and Converging Lines of Evidence
One of the challenges for discussing evolution within evangelical Christian circles is that there is widespread confusion about how evolution actually works. In this installment we explore how evolution is a theory in the scientific sense, how it is supported by converging lines of evidence, and how it can make accurate predictions about the natural world, using whale evolution as an example.
Speciation and Macroevolution
A common challenge to evolutionary theory is that while life does indeed change over time (what is known as microevolution), no one has ever seen one species evolve into another species (macroevolution).
Series: Understanding Evolution
This blog series by Dennis Venema undertakes the task of clarifying numerous aspects of evolution that often become misconstrued by Christians. He first discusses the idea of speciation in a population over time, later applying it to the speciation process that occurred among hominids (human ancestors) which led to modern humans. He continues to support this idea by exploring so called “Mitochondrial Eve,”“Y Chromosome Adam” and other compositional clues of the human genome.
Series: New Limbs from Old Fins
Stephen Matheson presents common descent by evolution as the best explanation for the universal pattern found in tetrapod limbs. He discusses initially the evolution and development of limbs in specifically vertebrate tetrapods. He looks at the question of origins and further digs into amazing fossil discoveries. He then gives evidence of evolution from fish to tetrapods by discussing the similarities in the anatomy, development, and genetic systems associated with this amazingly common pattern in vertebrate appendages.
Evolution: What We Know and What We Don't
In this video conversation, Jeff Schloss makes the observation that when we use the term “evolution”, it is not always exactly clear what we are actually discussing unless we denote the intended usage.
In The Bones
I am a fan of the blog "Jesus Creed." Recently it published an interesting post about the transition from fins to limbs as evidenced by fossils of an organism trapped in sediment 375 million years ago.
Songs and Speciation
How many times have you heard someone ask the question: "Have scientists ever actually observed the formation of a new species?" In this PNAS article, Peter and Rosemary Grant actually demonstrate the key events in the formation of a new species as it occurred before their very eyes.
How can evolution account for the complexity of life on earth today?
A complex biological structure with many interacting parts might appear, at first glance, as if it were originally created in its present form with all its interlocking components fully formed and intact. It doesn’t seem possible that they developed step by step via biological evolution. In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe introduces a term that he and other proponents of Intelligent Design use for this concept: irreducible complexity.
What is evolution?
Evolution is the biological model for the history of life on Earth. While some consider evolution to be equivalent to atheism, BioLogos sees evolution as a description of how God created all life. Evolution refers to descent with modification. Small modifications occur at the genetic level (in DNA) with each generation, and these genetic changes can affect how the creature interacts with its environment. Over time, accumulation of these genetic changes can alter the characteristics of the whole population, and a new species appears. Major changes in life forms take place by the same mechanism but over even longer periods of time. All life today can be traced back to a common ancestor some 3.85 billion years ago.
Death and Rebirth: The Role of Extinction in Evolution
When they imagine evolution, many Christians picture novelty: new species arising over time, or speciation events. But as the most recent Southern Baptist Voices exchange makes clear, many Christians also focus on the role of death in evolution—something that can be a stumbling block.
What evidence do we have for evolution besides fossils and genes?
Scientists have found multiple lines of evidence for evolution, not just one or two. These types of evidence are independent of each other, coming from sources as different as ancient fossils and modern genetics labs. Evidence also comes from comparing the anatomy of creatures living today. All creatures with four limbs (whether mammals, birds, or reptiles) have the same bone structure in each limb, pointing to their descent from a common ancestor. More evidence comes from biogeography. Isolated islands are missing common species found on the mainland, but are filled with many unique species that can be related by a common ancestor. Finally, evidence comes from embryonic development. As an embryo of a mammal grows, its heart develops through stages similar to fish, amphibians, and reptiles. God’s creation declares the history of life in many different ways. All these ways are pointing to a consistent picture of God creating through evolution.
The Fossil Record
There are two opposite errors which need to be countered about the fossil record: 1) that it is so incomplete as to be of no value in interpreting patterns and trends in the history of life, and 2) that it is so good that we should expect a relatively complete record of the details of evolutionary transitions within all or most lineages.
New Study Catches Speciation in Action
A new study published in the August issue of American Naturalist has found that a single genetic change has sent two different populations of monarch flycatchers on the path to speciation.
A Tale of Two Papers
Kenneth Miller tells a story of catching two students plagiarizing. It seemed quite clear that the two students had submitted the same papers, but the two argued it was merely by chance and that the fact that they were roommates explained why the papers seemed similar.
What does the fossil record show?
Fossils provide a unique view into the history of life by showing the forms and features of life in the past. Fossils tell us how species have changed across long periods of the Earth’s history. For instance, in 1998, scientists found a fossil showing an animal at the transition from sea creature to land creature. This tetrapod had a hand-like fin, confirming a prediction of evolutionary biology. Though the fossil record does not include every plant and animal that ever lived, it provides substantial evidence for the common descent of life via evolution. The fossil record is a remarkable gift for the study of nature.
Series: Evolution Basics
Written by BioLogos Fellow of Biology Dennis Venema, this series of posts is intended as a basic introduction to the science of evolution for non-specialists.