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Did complex life evolve through the process of natural selection?

The theory of evolution is that life evolves as organisms randomly mutate, where the ones with traits best adapted to their environment survive and reproduce their successful mutations. Soon after Charles Darwin proposed this theory in the book "On the Origin of Species" in 1859, it became widely accepted by the scientific community. Its truth is central to modern biology and it remains the only scientific theory that could explain complex life without a creator.

Implications to Other Questions


Experts and Influencers

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Agree
Experts In Science


Richard Dawkins    Evolutionary Biologist, Writer, Atheism Activist
Agree
The Darwinian world-view [...] is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence. This makes it a doubly satisfying theory. A good case can be made that Darwinism is true, not just on this planet but all over the universe, wherever life may be found.
01 Jan 1986    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
   Disagree

Steven Pinker    Psychology Professor
Agree
It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings. Our own bodies are riddled with quirks that no competent engineer would have planned but that disclose a history of trial-and-error tinkering: a retina installed backward, ... goose bumps that uselessly try to warm us by fluffing up long-gone fur.
07 Aug 2005    Source


Eliezer Yudkowsky    Artificial Intelligence Researcher
Agree
[By denying evolution you] engage in motivated cognition; and instead of focusing on the unthinkably huge heaps of evidence in favor of evolution, the innumerable signs by which the fact of evolution has left its heavy footprints on all of reality, ... ...instead you search your mind, and you pick out one form of proof that you think evolutionary biologists can't provide; and you demand, you insist upon that one form of proof; and when it is not provided, you take that as a refutation.
15 Feb 2010    Source


Encyclopedia


Wikipedia    World's Largest Encyclopedia
Agree
Advocates of intelligent design argue that it is a scientific theory, and seek to fundamentally redefine science to accept supernatural explanations. The unequivocal consensus in the scientific community is that [evolution by natural selection is true and that] intelligent design is not science.
27 Apr 2009    Source


Experts In Law


Barack Obama    United States President
Agree
I believe in evolution, and I believe there's a difference between science and faith. That doesn't make faith any less important than science. It just means they're two different things. And I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry.
07 Apr 2008    Source


Experts In Politics


Joe Biden    US Vice President, Democrat
Agree
[Regarding Intelligent Design] I refuse to believe the majority of people believe this malarkey!
07 Apr 2006    Source


John McCain    U.S. Senator, Republican
Agree
I happen to believe in evolution. ... I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not.
02 Jul 2006    Source


Experts In Seduction


Heartiste    Pickup Artist
Agree
...manipulation and mate choice go hand in hand. I propose, as an extension to [Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis], that the absurdity of mid-20th to early 21st century feminism and all its adjuncts are better understood as progressively sophisticated emergent sexual selection strategies which act as social obstacles to filter out men who aren’t able to successfully navigate them.
06 Oct 2009    Source


Disagree
Experts In Science


Roy Spencer    Meteorologist
Mostly Disagree
Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as "fact," I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism.
08 Aug 2005    Source


Experts In Christianity


Albert Mohler    President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Disagree
Given the human tendency toward inconsistency, there are people who will say they hold both positions. But you cannot coherently affirm the Christian-truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time. Personally, I am a young-Earth creationist. I believe the Bible is adequately clear about how God created the world, and that its most natural reading points to a six-day creation that included not just the animal and plant species but the earth itself.
07 Aug 2005    Source


The Catholic Church    Largest Christian Church
Mostly Disagree
In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so.
23 Jul 2004    Source


Experts In Creationism


Kent Hovind    Celebrity Creationist
Disagree
[Evolution] is ridiculous.... [The professor is] welcome to believe his grandpa was lucy and came down from a tree or something but that's pure religion. We offer a 1/4 of a million dollars for anyone with any real empirical testable scientific evidence for evolution. ... Monkeys are still having babies. Why don't they have human today?
17 Dec 2006    Source


Encyclopedia


Conservapedia    Christian Encyclopedia
Disagree
It is a commonly held belief of evolutionists that small changes in genetic materials (mutations) will ultimately produce the presumed large changes necessary for one biological organism to change into a different kind of biological organism which is commonly called macroevolution. This belief is not valid.
21 Dec 2011    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
   Agree

Experts In Law


Ann Coulter    Political Commentator
Disagree
"In my book Godless, I showed that Darwinism is the hoax of the century and, consequently, the core of the religion of liberalism…."
06 Jun 2006    Source


Experts In Politics


Sam Brownback    Senator, Republican
Disagree
The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.
31 May 2007    Source



Deepak Chopra    Inventor of Quantum Healing
Disagree
Darwin's theory of evolution is an enormous over-simplification. ...it's simple enough to teach to children between recess and lunch. But it fails to capture the driving force and what's really going on. It is time to step back and take a look at the big picture. ... The challenge, alas, is to peer not just behind our ancestral way of thinking, but to grasp the world in a way that is at the same time simpler and more demanding than what we are accustomed to.
05 Oct 2009    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
   Agree

Neutral
Experts In Creationism


Phillip Johnson    Law Professor
Neutral
Although I insist that God has always had the power to intervene directly in nature to create new forms, I am willing to be persuaded that He chose not to do so and instead employed secondary natural causes like random mutation and natural selection.
15 May 1997    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
   Mostly Agree

Experts In Philosophy


Ayn Rand    Philosopher, Novelist
Neutral
I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent. But a certain hypothesis has haunted me for years; I want to stress that it is only hypothesis. There is an enormous breach of continuity between nature and man’s consciousness, in its distinctive characteristic: his conceptual faculty.
01 Nov 1984    Source



Comments

Add Your TakeOnIt (click to expand, no login required)
0 Points      hi      25 May 2015      General Comment
Does it matter?


0 Points      Capricious      25 Mar 2015      Stance on Question: Agree
Evolution is the truth, or at least the closest thing to truth.


0 Points      MTC      23 Feb 2013      Stance on Question: Agree
All the evidence says that evolution is true.


1 Point      Hagster69      19 Jan 2012      Stance on Question: Agree
We can see evolution in a very short space of time. When we develope an insecticide to kill off the billions of mosquitos in a swarm, a few with a slightly different genetic makeup survive. These then breed passing down these genes to build another swarm, within days/months, with the mutated genes making them immune to that insecticide, therefore survival of the fittest rule applies.


0 Points      blacktrance      10 Feb 2011      Stance on Question: Agree
The evidence is conclusive in this regard.


0 Points      Benja      10 May 2010      Editorial Comment
Someone suggested that the Church's position isn't "disagree" based on the fact that they are open to evolution, simply not unguided evolution. However, if evolution is guided, then it is no longer happening via natural selection, but rather, by the hand of God. Therefore I believe the Church's answer as "diasgree" is appropriate.


0 Points      JoshuaZ      10 May 2010      Editorial Comment
The Catholic Church does believe in natural selection. They just think that God may have stepped in every so often. Or that God set things up so that natural selection would go exactly how he wanted it (a position somewhat similar to that of some p-zombie proponents). However, this doesn't mean that the primary method of evolution isn't natural selection. The question doesn't say unguided. No one thinks that natural selection is the only thing that matters. If so, you'd have to also throw out the people who emphasize sexual selection or neutral drift. At the most extreme interpretation, the Catholic church is neutral on this.


0 Points      Benja      10 May 2010      Editorial Comment
The critical question is not between those who believe in "evolution of some sort, whether supernaturally guided or unguided" vs. those who "strictly believe in creation". The critical question is between science (whether that's natural selection, sexual selection etc.) and non-science (whether that non-science is strict Creationism, evolution with God stepping in every so often, or evolution with vitalism).

How would you word the question to make this debate clearer?

I updated the Church's answer from "disagree" to "mostly disagree" since they do say "Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so."


0 Points      JoshuaZ      11 May 2010      Editorial Comment
If you think the issue is just about whether or not evolution occurred in a completely scientific fashion, then the question should say so. (I'm not completely sure what that means since a religious individual could claim that God's intervention was scientifically detectable. Certainly some of the ID people do). But at that point, the question almost becomes just "is theism correct?" or something very close to that.


0 Points      Benja      11 May 2010      Editorial Comment
There is a scientific theory called the theory of evolution. This question is asking whether that theory is correct. The core mechanism in that theory is natural selection, where beneficial mutations survive and detrimental mutations die. Yes, this mechanism is augmented with sexual selection, but it's hardly as if the theists would see sexual selection (or genetic drift) as a "way out". They have theological issues with the randomness and blindness of the core mechanism in the theory, i.e. natural selection, which is why they reject the theory, and suggest "intelligent" mechanisms other than natural selection.

I ask again: How would you word the question to make this debate clearer? (I appreciate that you're illustrating a point by suggesting changing the question to "Is theism correct?", but obviously actually implementing that suggestion would only make the debate less clear.)

UPDATE: "Sexual selection is a “special case” of natural selection." See here.






0 Points      OmnipotentRabbit      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
Adapting to new mediums and changes in the environment is a fundamental fact of life, applicable to both human life and overarching fossil trends. Adaptation through natural selection is one of the cornerstones of science, and for good reason - it is universally proven.


0 Points      casca      05 Jan 2009      Stance on Question: Disagree
All things being equal the more simple explanation for the existence of our very complex universe is creation. Belief in creation does not necessarily mean belief in seven 24 hr creative days. The Hebrew word yohm, translated "day," can mean different lengths of time. Among the meanings possible, a day is frequently put for time in general, or for a long time. The "days" in Genesis could have embraced long periods of time - millenniums. Coincidentally, the order of creation related in Genesis and the order determined by science are in agreement -

1. a beginning
2. a primitive earth in darkness and enshrouded in heavy gases and water
3. light
4. an expanse or atmosphere
5. large areas of dry land
6. land plants
7. sun, moon and stars discernible in the expanse, and seasons beginning
8. large sea creatures and flying creatures
9. wild and tame beasts, mammals
10. man

- Statistically the chance of relating the above in this particular order by accident is 1 in 3,628,800.


0 Points      Anonymous      30 Sep 2011      Stance on Question: Agree
Since you point out that the 'days' in Genesis may be longer than actual days.
Then I am assume that you are open to the possibility of the earth being over 4 billion years old.
Given that amount of time, I don't feel 3.6 million to 1 are excessive odds.
You get worse odds than that playing the lottery.


-1 Point      Ahmet Engin      08 Jul 2010      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
I totally agree with you, but in the way of scientific view of a Muslim. We believe in that there should be a Creator.Because, philosophically,there should be a first, stable, correct and unquestinable truth.In this case, it is the creation of the world, a starting point.(Faith)
Furthermore, we can justify that major mechanism of evolution, mutation, tends to be neutral MOST of the time and mutations are random, not symmetric and do not produce an advantage but destroy the stability at that moment. Result: A symmetric body, not a human, not even a reptile could come into life randomly. Evolution cannot produce a symmetric face with same eyes, nose holes, ears and so on.(Science)


0 Points      Benja      09 Jul 2010      General Comment
"We believe in that there should be a Creator.Because, philosophically,there should be a first, stable, correct and unquestinable truth.In this case, it is the creation of the world, a starting point.(Faith)"
This is a website for debating - each debate is titled as a question - so saying your side is based on an "unquestionable truth" is a bit ridiculous. You're essentially saying "FYI - I am totally biased and no argument can ever change my mind".

"MOST of the time and mutations are random ... and do not produce an advantage but destroy the stability at that moment."
Most mutations are detrimental - but those mutations get selected out of the gene pool. Only a small number of beneficial mutations are needed for evolution to work. I apologize for coming across as patronizing here, but I really think you need to read an introductory textbook on evolution.

"A symmetric body, not a human, not even a reptile could come into life randomly. Evolution cannot produce a symmetric face with same eyes, nose holes, ears and so on."
No, mutations can result in both symmetrical and asymmetrical structures. This can be observed in one generation, without even bringing up evolution. Haven't you ever seen a four eared cat?



1 Point      JGWeissman      06 Mar 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
Creation by ontologically basic mental things is not a simple explanation. Occam's razor, correctly applied, compares the complexities of the assumptions of a theory, not their consequences. The problem with the "God did it" explanation is that you have to add the complexity of mentioning God to the complexity of describing everything God is supposed to have done. Now, if you had a short description of God that could predict all the things God does, so those actions did not count against the complexity of the theory, you have a shot. However, I have yet to see such a description that is not rejected by the evidence.


0 Points      Anonymous      17 Jun 2010      Stance on Question: Neutral
Wouldn't a "short description of God that could predict all the things God does" prove that God is a lower being than Humans, and can therefore be predicted? That works against most religion in the sense that God is holy. That does not, however, show that science and religion are opposites and nor does it disprove either theory. Science and religion simply use different means to understand things. Also, the Bible has a great amount of metaphorical content and I do not think that it can be interpreted in one way for debate, which allows many other ideas into the mind. As casca said, a day can be a metaphor. There isn't even a 'day,' as we know it, before light. I will never decide on this issue, other than agreeing that evolution (not the theory, but the process) exists and could exist even in conjunction with creationism.


0 Points      Benja      17 Jun 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
"That does not, however, show that science and religion are opposites and nor does it disprove either theory. Science and religion simply use different means to understand things."
This view is commonly stated as a fact, when in fact it's highly debatable. See Are the core truths of science and religion complementary?

"I will never decide on this issue"
This amounts to saying that your viewpoint is immune to evidence.





0 Points      Benja      13 Sep 2008      Editorial Comment
George Bush and Sarah Palin are conspicuously silent on this, presumably because they don't want to alienate voters on either side. There was a claim from a schoolteacher that Sarah believes in it, but there's no verifiable quote from her (though Matt Damon doesn't need any verification).