Evolution 101-part 2: Grandma Rock and the Family Tree

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

BOLD font is me, Rent A Friend 2000, being Bold.

The explanation
Biological evolution is not simply a matter of change over time. Lots of things change over time: trees lose their leaves, mountain ranges rise and erode, but they aren’t examples of biological evolution because they don’t involve descent through genetic inheritance.

What’s funny about this is I have a middle school science text book called “Evolution: Change over Time.” It’s good to see the kids at Berkley are doing a little better than the 8th grade public school kids. On the other hand, they’ve just told you what it’s not. I think you’ll notice that you still need me to tell you what it is. I’m just saying.

The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother.

Only our grandmother is a rock. No, really. Grandma rock gave rise to grandma soup, and, somehow, all life came from that. Can you picture her in her ROCKing chair? Huh? Get it?… These are the jokes kids. You get what you pay for.

Through the process of descent with modification, the common ancestor of life on Earth gave rise to the fantastic diversity that we see documented in the fossil record and around us today.

I see we’ll be skipping the identity of Grandma for now. Also, rather brazen to say “Documented in the fossil record.” Even these guys will later admit that the fossils present more of a jigsaw puzzle than a “Documented Record.” When you study this stuff longer, you’ll come to find that the evolutionary biologists know the evidence for evolution is in the fossil record, while the evolutionary geologists know it’s in the biology department. That, if nothing else, should speak volumes.

But don’t take my word for it. Let them speak for themselves:

‘Palaeoanthropologists seem to make up for a lack of fossils with an excess of fury, and this must now be the only science in which it is still possible to become famous just by having an opinion. As one cynic says, in human palaeontology [the study of fossils] the consensus depends on who shouts loudest.’ J.S. Jones, Department of Genetics and Biometry, University College, London, in a book review. Nature, Vol. 345, May 31, 1990, p. 395.

‘Genetics has no proofs for evolution. It has trouble explaining it. The closer one looks at the evidence for evolution the less one finds of substance. In fact the theory keeps on postulating evidence, and failing to find it, moves on to other postulates (fossil missing links, natural selection of improved forms, positive mutations, molecular phylogenetic sequences, etc.). This is not science.’ Professor Maciej Giertych, B.A., M.A. Oxon, Ph.D. Toronto, D.Sc. Poznan, Head of Genetics Department, Polish Academy of Scienced, Institute of Dendrology, Poland.

Evolution means that we’re all distant cousins: humans and oak trees, hummingbirds and whales

Oh, Great. As if I didn’t have enough Christmas cards to send out this year. On the other hand, in a round about way I am sure they don’t realize, they just justified eating your family and friends. Listen up vegetarians: That carrot is my cousin, and so is that Tofu (though the family doesn’t like to talk about him much). When you sink your hard, pointy teeth into my cousins, I hope you can hear my heart break over the crunch of their dying veggie flesh. Ask yourself this- do you use the salad dressing to hide the flavor, or to cover your murderous guilt?

The central ideas of evolution are that life has a history — it has changed over time — and that different species share common ancestors.

Actually, this is true. Different species do have common ancestors. Living things have changed over time. But that isn’t evolution in the Darwinian sense presented here. Darwinian Evolution requires the blind faith leap of believing ALL living things have common ancestors, until, all the way back at the head of the family is Grandma rock. I smell a serious bait and switch here. We OBSERVE dogs descending from some ancestral wolf kind over a few thousand years, and we OBSERVE certain vegetables descending from a common cabbage ancestor over a few thousand years, but to then try and argue that, therefore wolves and cabbage descended from  a common ancestor billions of years ago is, I will argue, stretching the evidence a tad thin.

To restate the fact they are glossing over: Evolution needs to demonstrate how bacteria could gain the genetic information to add to their physical complexity until they become everything from wolves to cabbage. To give you a metaphor- imagine you have eight popsicle sticks, a gum wrapper, and a bottle of glue. What I want you to build is a working Bowing 747. You have the instructions for making a picture frame. What kind of information would you need to add to your instructions in order to fly me to someplace tropical? Quite a bit, wouldn’t you say?

The evolutionary story is like that, only the tools and materials are all made by the living things, and the increase in information is made by a blind, accidental process with no mind, purpose, or goals, and the end product is FAR more complex than a simple airplane. Keep that in mind, because they are about to teach us how it’s done!

Here, you can explore how evolutionary change and evolutionary relationships are represented in “family trees,” how these trees are constructed, and how this knowledge affects biological classification. You will also find a timeline of evolutionary history and information on some specific events in the history of life: human evolution and the origin of life.

familiy trees

It’s rare to find, but occasionally a book will have the courage to label the spaces on a chart like this to designate the difference between the animal we know exist (or have existed) and the ones we have to assume for the sake of the chart. In short, when you take away all of the imaginary friends, all of those horizontal lines magically go away. For those of you who are slow on the uptake, that means all of those T intersections and the transitional ancestor they represent don’t exist either. Which should lead you to ask, What is the point of this chart, then? Which is my point exactly.

Join me next week for part 3.



About rentafriend2000
Rocking my 40's with a heart full of love and muffins, science and technology. Jesus loves me and wants me to totally rock! And I am here to help.

One Response to Evolution 101-part 2: Grandma Rock and the Family Tree

  1. In reply to agnophilo .Thanks again for writing. Forgive me for not posting your comment, but it would have literally tripled the length of this page since you copied and pasted the ENTIRE post. Let me just respond to a few key points.
    1. “Evolution: Change over Time.” I am pointing out the useless nature of such a VAGUE definition. Since evolution is SO often offered as proof against Christianity, the Bible, the existence of God, and of course the creation as per Genesis, the argument on this definition becomes “Things change, therefore there is no God.” It’s just as weak to say, “Alleles in a population can vary statistically, therefore there is no God,” yet this is exactly what people like the kids at Talk Origins and Richard Dawkins are saying. I’ll refer back to this issue in later posts as I demonstrate how the poor definition is abused. (And in this reply thanks to your own comments)
    2. “Nothing about biology says that we descended from a rock. I have never heard someone criticize evolution who accurately understood it or did not misrepresent it in order to do so.” Actually, any biology textbook or evolutionary story will tell you EXACTLY this. Not in the sense that there is ONE grandmother rock, like a certain stone that had babies. Look it up in any evolutionary minded book: Where did the first cell come from? The primordial soup. Where did the soup come from? “It rained on the ROCKS for million of years…” So, grandmother rock gave rise to grandmother soup, which is where grandmother bacteria came from. If you believe evolution, this IS what you believe. You’ve just never thought about it in these terms. I am not misrepresenting anything. I am pointing out the parts of the story which tend to get overlooked because they are comical and bad for PR..
    3. “A jigsaw puzzle is out of order, the fossil record is simply vast.” Yes, it is, but it is also, on evolutionary terms, “out of order.” The progression of trilobite to T rex to Texan you find in the textbooks are fictional. That is NOT how fossils are actually found. I’ll write more on this in future posts. Until then, check out Ian Juby: http://youtu.be/lTWZJBXAZJA
    4. “As for natural selection not being able to refine something the way we refine aircraft, this is an ironic example since aerospace engineers have been using simulated evolution to fine-tune their airplane manifolds for years. They just start out with a 3d model of an airplane in a computer program, program it to change, copy itself, change again and so on and every few virtual “generations” the ones that are the least aerodynamic are discarded and the ones that are the most aerodynamic are kept, rinse and repeat.” You’re using a tremendously complex, intelligently designed program overlooked by engineers who use it to achieve a planned goal as a metaphor for a blind, accidental process which by definition has no guidance or goal setting abilities? This is a far better metaphor for a creator God who designed and continues to watch over his creation. Ask yourself this, “Would I get on a plane which had NO intelligent designer and was put together by chance?” Aside from that, as I will explain in detail later (And as will be acknowledged clearly by the authors of this web site) Natural Selection CANNOT Create ANYTHING. It is a merely subtractive process.
    5. “Do you deny that evolution can produce novel and useful adaptations, resistance to diseases and so on?” I do deny it. I do not believe natural selection or changes in allele frequency have created the many adaptations or variations we see in the world around us any more than I believe the government will spend its way out of debt. And if you see the definitions of evolution given, there is no way to tell me something as vague as “Change” can do the work of the team of engineers and programmers you refer to in the ‘airplane evolution’ example. This was why I felt it reasonable to attack the weak sauce definition to begin with, because when you apply THAT definition to your claim that it “produce novel and useful adaptations, resistance to diseases and so on” it should be obvious why it is absurd, or at the VERY least writing verbal checks it cannot cash.
    6. As for your examples of transitional forms, forgive me for saying so but you are basing it on evolutionary bias and interpretation. For instance, Archaeopteryx is in all ways merely a bird. Yes it has what looks like claws, but so does the ostrich, and it has teeth, but so does a species of hummingbird. What makes it a transition from reptile to bird? Nothing, ESPECIALLY considering that other more modern birds have been found in rock layers said by evolution to be OLDER than he. As Ian Juby says, you can’t be your grandfather’s father, and so, Archeoptryx CANNOT be the missing link from lizard to bird. Also, in at least the case of tiktaalik, you’re working on outdated information. Yes, it’ discovery can be presented as a ‘test’ of the evolutionary hypothesis, but ultimately it fails to make the point everyone was hoping it would make for several reasons- not the least of which is that footprints of a fully functional tetrapod were found in rocks alleged to be MILLIONS of years before it. Check it out Here: http://youtu.be/C39OgVzSvKY?t=1m12s
    7. See you next week.

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