A monkey can’t give birth to a human

One of the daftest objections I had of evolution was the notion that an animal of one species cannot give birth to an animal of another. Now that I understand evolution a bit more I can happily laugh at my past beliefs, yet I do see creationists making the same criticism, so I was obviously not alone in my errant ideas.

My thinking basically went along the lines of, species A lives and exists for some time, for evolution to be true species A will eventually evolve into species B. This will happen when one animal in the species randomly gives birth to an offspring that is somehow not species A but actually species B. However, there are no other species B specimens about so the lone animal of species B has to hope that another member of species A gives births to another species B within its lifetime. Since this is obvious nonsense, evolution must be false.

(Go on, have a good chuckle, I know you want to)

Sadly, I very often see hints that I was not alone in this line of logic and that it really is how creationists often portray evolution.

This creationist idea of evolution is utterly utterly wrong.

Creationists who believe this really do need to take a step back and pay attention to what is being said. No scientist has ever suggested that evolution works by one species giving birth to another. To suggest otherwise is to be either wilfully deceptive or unwilling to be educated; and yes I include my former self in the second one of those.

When pondering evolution and how it could work, I would spend ages imagining scenarios where one species morphs into another. Generally my thinking boiled down to an individual member and how it could be the parent of another species. I always hit a dead end because my thinking was too narrow.

Eventually I hit the bigger picture and grasped the understanding that if a groups of species A splits into two smaller groups and the two become separated to the point that there is no mixing between the two; there will eventually become a point where those two groups are classed as distinct species. This happens because the random variations that happen with each new generation have mixed among each group to the point where the two groups have a wholly different set of variations and so become independent species in their own right.

Its so easy and obvious to understand, it’s a wonder it took me so long to get it.

That’s not all the story of course

There are complications though. The idea above does not explain how you get huge differences like a duplication of the entire DNA sequence or a difference in the number of chromosomes. My understanding does not yet extending to grasping those concepts and how they would impact the first individual to receive the change. However, my lack of understanding does not negate the bigger concept.

Back to the Species idea

The best explanation for me was the example of a ring species, this is where you get a source species and a group splits off and relocates to form group B (leaving the source group as group A). Eventually group C splits from group B and so it goes until you have groups A through H. Now let’s say the groups create a large circle and group H ends up next to the original group A. Each group would be able to mate with its neighbours, so would be counted as variations within a single species. Yet groups H and A would not. Where do you define the difference between species?

This is not an impossible idea. Biologists have had many challenges and problems in drawing the boundaries between species. There is only one possible explanation for these issues; evolution.

If the creationist idea was right, then there would be easy definable differences between species. This would be because each species would have been created as unique and fully formed. Yet the basic idea of categorising species is very problematic. This is very strong evidence for common ancestry and evolution.

The only other possibility is that God created everything intentionally confusing. Why on earth would he do that?

So a monkey gives birth to a human.

Well not really, but a common ancestor did once give birth offspring that would eventually lead to monkeys and humans, I wonder if they were twins.

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32 thoughts on “A monkey can’t give birth to a human

  1. I wonder if creationists understand anything about evolution at all — or if they deliberately misunderstand it to avoid having to think critically about its claims.

    • Hi Ahab,

      Certainly for me in my creationist days, it was a misunderstanding of evolution. Partly based on incorrect information, which came from creationist sources.

      Do they deliberately misunderstand? Personally, no it was never deliberate, the logic was faulty due to the premise that God must exist, but there was never a deliberate misunderstanding of evolution. As a lay person, I relied on others to furnish me with information on both science and religion.

      I do sometimes wonder if those creationists who continue to publish on the subject actually still believe as I did or if they have now come to a point where they need the revenue stream so much that its impossible for them to admit their past wrongs.

      With the evidence for evolution, its impossible for them not to be able to be corrected. Yet they constantly fail to be. Are they really that blind to science? or are they wilfully deceiving themselves and thousands of others? I don’t know, but I do wonder too.

  2. good post…I’m afraid I may have uttered similar words in objection to evolution in my Christian past. I agree, that I did so in ignorance and in hopes to justify my belief in creationism.

    I also relied on Christian sources to inform most of my understanding of Evolution. Surely a mistake….

    • Thank you.

      Getting all your evolution information from Creationist sources is very definitely a bad idea, especially as it creates the false impression that creationism is a valid interpretation of the evidence.

      Some Christian sources do provide good evolution information but I don’t recall reading anything that could have enabled me to transition from creationist to evolution believing Christian.

  3. ” No scientist has ever suggested that evolution works by one species giving birth to another”

    I think we can safely disagree with that. According to evolutionary theory, when the very first member of the species homo sapiens was born, were his parents homo sapiens? Obviously the answer has to be ‘no’.

    Sometimes evolutionists will try to escape this by claiming, as Richard Dawkins does, that “there never was a very first human”. But this bit of semantic dishonesty cannot really be accepted with a straight face, can it?

    There is a reproductive barrier between the species. A member of one species cannot conceive/give birth to a member of another species. And members of two different species cannot successfully interbreed (i.e. produce fertile offfspring) . Would you agree with that (it is the standard biological definition of species)?

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Your definitions are correct, its the assumption that there is a line that can be drawn where one species becomes another that is the problem. Its an issue I struggles with for a long time myself.

      A new species does not emerge by being born from another because that member will have no equivalents to mate with and so instant extinction will be the result.

      A new specifies emerges over an extended period of time within a group as they continue to mix their genes with each other. Within the group you wouldn’t notice the difference but eventually previously compatible groups would no longer be.

      One way to understand it is to imagine a group of animals, the groups separates and become geographically separated so that they no longer mingle. Over time there will become differences between the two groups that makes them distinct from each other. This has happened on islands a few times.

      If you extend this example several times you can get a situation where multiple populations have spawned as subsequent groups have split into sub groups. Lets call them groups A to G. Each group is able to mate with its neighbours (D with C and E) but if A and G were to meet, they would not be able to mate. Look up ring species for a longer explanation.

      You need to extend your thinking out from the individual and thing more about the immediate population.

  4. “its the assumption that there is a line that can be drawn where one species becomes another that is the problem.”

    If there is “origin of species” then AT SOME POINT the first member of that new species must be born, correct?

    ah ring species. Yes I’m very familiar with them. Its funny how evolutionists always reach for ‘ring species’ as an explanation. Supposed ring species comprise less than 0.00001% of species.

    So, what about all the OTHER supposed speciation? You know, the 99.99999%? Well it supposedly happens when ‘populations are isolated from one another’. Really , how? Well, we are told ‘sometimes a mountain range will rise up and separate populations’. LOL

    Yes this really is an often used evolutionary explanation. A rising mountain range (which they believe takes millions of years and is so slow that it cannot be noticed as it occurs in ones lifetime) somehow separates populations of bunnies, squirrels, bears and whatever else lives there so that they cannot interbreed with what were (formerly) their neighbors.

    Another fantastic explanation involves rivers that flood and become ‘uncrossable’ for thousands of years. Truthfully there arent enough rivers that big on the planet to account for billions of speciation events.

    But then it could’ve been a canyon that was formed, lol…….

    Back to ring species, show me even 1 example of a ring species where the ability of A and G (to use your example) to interbreed been conclusively ruled out by experimentation and repeated multiple trials. There isnt one. Not even 1. So even this tiny category of supposed speciation lacks any real evidence that it exists.

    My point is that there is a barrier between species, and no natural process is known that can bring a critter past the barrier. Evolutionists often respond ‘well we dont know HOW evolution occurred, but we KNOW that it did’. That, my friend, is a statement of faith, not science.

    “A new species does not emerge by being born from another”

    Actually thats the only way. All critters are born, right? How did the first member of a new species get here if he wasnt born? And by definition his parents cannot be of his species, else he is not a ‘new’ species.

    “This has happened on islands a few times.”

    You need more than a few. You need billions.

    See, reproductive isolation (when small populations isolate themselves and only breed with each other) isnt a good thing. Its a bad thing. Do you know what inbreeding is?

    • Well ring species is a good illustration of what is expected by evolution.

      In answer to your challenge, a quick web search reveals:

      http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~irwin/GreenishWarblers.html
      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/devitt_01

      Maybe with a little more searching some more information can be provided on these and others.

      You’re making the same mistake I used to make in my creationist days. You’re thinking too short term and too specific. A new species comes about when a population group becomes genetically distinct from others, previously of the same species. The reasons could be many and varied.

      With your examples, it doesn’t require a mountain range to suddenly rise up. The population could already be geographically spread out enough that some form of separation is inevitable, the rising up of mountains could separate a large population gradually, eventually making travel between the two halves impossible.

      The type of barrier required will depend on the animal. For small rodents, a flood, which then causes a river to change direction could very easily separate two or more parts of a population. The flood would not have to remain for thousands of years.

      Who says the separated populations will be small and not genetically viable? Yes its possible that small populations have broken off in the past, its also possible that those never made it. The larger and more varied the separated group is, the better chance it has.

      One of the things you’d expect from evolution is that the more remote parts of the world are, the more distinct the species groups you’ll find. That’s exactly what we see. A good example being Marsupials. There is also the species found on Madagascar and nowhere else.

      I certainly would not expect the same explanation for every occurrence of speciation. As the world evolves and changes and animals migrate and mutate then different circumstances will result.

  5. Thanks for your reply. Your link indicates that the ‘ends’ of the ring (salamanders) actually can and do interbreed. So I dont think we have see from this source any conclusive evidence that speciation has occurred. The link for the warblers doesnt address the subject, so again no evidence offered there either.

    We can see that THE classic example of a ‘ring species’ (yes, the one that started the whole ring species thing) has turned out to be……well uh…. yeah not a ring species. It only took about 90 years to realize it, but hey no harm in teaching schoolchildren something false for 90 years, right? http://darrennaish.blogspot.com/2006/02/no-no-no-no-no-herring-gull-is-not.html

    This is my problem with evolutionists, they are very quick to announce ‘proof’ when what they have is a hypothesis.

    “A new species comes about when a population group becomes genetically distinct from others”

    There’s more to it than being ‘genetically distinct’. I am genetically distinct from my parents, as you are from yours. A new species involves crossing a reproductive barrier because a member of one species cannot conceive/give birth to a member of another but that is exactly what evolution requires.

    When the first member of the species homo sapiens was born, were his parents homo sapiens?

    • Hi Tim,

      Forgive my delayed response, blame it on a family holiday.

      Ref the salamanders, this link, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705211022.htm, does imply there there is still some form of cross breeding ate the ends of the ring, but its not clear if its between the ends or adjacent groups. Note though that there is a dropping of of interbreeding. The evolutionary prediction would be that eventually there will be a breeding incompatibility between some of the groups. Who knows when that will happen?

      However, this link, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/05/2/l_052_05.html, specifies that there are two species of Salamander that can not and interbreed, as well as some that can.

      The other link I pasted is of the Greenish Warbler, which does appear to be a stronger candidate. ANother link about it is here: http://necsi.edu/research/evoeco/ringspecies/

      I note that the link you pasted about the Herring Gull is to an evolution blog. One thing that marks a good scientist is one who accepts that something once held is no longer true. So it seems to be the way with the Herring Gull. Note that the blog post references the Salamander and the Warbler as examples. Did you also notice the prediction at the end of the post that suggested that a fulfillment of the ring species could be fulfilled by birds migrating West?

      Its clear that ring species are far more complicated than the example I suggested at the start, which I guess is exactly what you’d expect from the evolutionary mechanism.

  6. Thanks for your reply. No problem on the delay.

    The PBS link implies without evidence (while humorously using the word “evidently”), that two of the groups ‘cannot interbreed’, after first saying that they ‘do not interbreed’. It does not follow that organisms that ‘do not interbreed’ also ‘cannot interbreed’, and I’m sure you are aware of the difference.

    The article is scant on detail, and I have little doubt that it is the ‘ends’ of the ring that are being referred to. That is the classical description of a ‘ring species’. But note, that there is NO conclusive evidence offered that these groups are completely unable to successfully interbreed, or that verifiable evidence has been documented by experimentation to indicate such.

    “The evolutionary prediction would be that eventually there will be a breeding incompatibility between some of the groups. Who knows when that will happen?”

    This is an assumption, is it not? Not a bit of evidence to indicate something has happened, rather a hope that it might or that it will.

    “Did you also notice the prediction at the end of the post that suggested that a fulfillment of the ring species could be fulfilled by birds migrating West?”

    Again, an assumption. Predictions arent evidence. Not even close, they are more like an attempt to establish a circular pattern of thought.

    The warbler link is also strong on ‘prediction’

    “Nevertheless it also suggests the ring will break up into multiple species in 10,000 to 50,000 years. ”

    but woefully short on evidence that true speciation has occurred. Why? Well, I assume that if there was real evidence, that it would be featured front and center, wouldnt it?

    “One of the most powerful counters to that argument is the rare but fascinating phenomenon known as “ring species.” ”

    A much more fascinating phenomenon is how evolutionists so frequently default to discussions of a ‘rare’ event, and dont really like to discuss the 99.999999% of speciation cases that would need to be established if evolution were an actual occurence.

    I have had discussions with many evolutionists over the years. And its uncanny how many of them reach straight for ‘ring species’ when speciation is put under the microscope.

    There is no natural process which allows a member of one species to conceive/give birth to a member of another species.

    And that is true of supposed ‘ring species’ as well.

    There isnt even 1 instance of ring species where there is documented, verified evidence that the so called ‘ends’ of the ring CANNOT under any circumstance successfully interbreed. Not even 1.

  7. Hello Tim, another delay, we’ve had a long holiday weekend here in limeyland.

    Re prediction: The thing about making scientific progress is that predictions need to be made. This includes evolutionary study. Making a prediction on what will happen, based on current understanding, provides a framework through which theories can be tested. These are necessary. Something which, if you’ll forgive be for being blunt, creationism doesn’t do.

    Re don’t breed vs can’t breed: I think you’re getting too hung up on semantics to be honest. Forgetting ring species for a minute, if you have two similar species that live in proximity but don’t interbreed. The expectation is that genetic differences between them will increase by the simple fact that there is no intermixing. Now, lets say that these two species technically could breed but don’t, the increased differentiation would eventually lead to a breeding incompatibility. I fully expect you to object to that, but I’ll continue anyway, assume for a moment that evolution is true, the expected sequence of events will be not breeding (either by choice or circumstance) and then inability to breed. So, if two similar species are not interbreeding (for whatever reason) then, frankly that passes for me because if they won’t interbreed, how do I know whether then truly can or can’t anyway? If they technically can but don’t, why is that? Why would they be created with that ability but don’t use it? Its a logical argument in favour of evolution. If you then find yourself with a sequence of steps showing gradual change between the two species, then you’re instantly into the ring species argument but with a demonstration of gradual change between the species which only makes the case for evolution stronger.

    This is why ring species gets referred to a lot, its a good example of gradual change, which shows that species do change in response to different environments. Which runs counter to the creationist argument of a single creation event of all species. Species change.

    There is no natural process which allows a member of one species to conceive/give birth to a member of another species.

    No one is suggesting that is the case.

    I’ll be honest and admit that in my creationist days this was a major blockage for me too. However, it really is a disservice to science to frame the objection that way. Evolution does not work on an individual level like that. Speciation occurs on a group level, as has already been explained.

  8. hi,

    I hope holiday was a good time. I’m planning one myself soon.

    I have no problem with predictions per se, unless they are proposed in place of evidence. Saying that “we expect this to happen” isnt the same as saying “this has happened. It was observed and documented, and is verifiable.”

    “If they technically can but don’t, why is that? Why would they be created with that ability but don’t use it? Its a logical argument in favour of evolution.”

    No, its not. We only need to look at humans (just another animal, if evolution is true) to see the fallacy of this. There can be many reasons why two groups of people may live in close proximity but not interbreed. And we see it demonstrated in the human community.

    “No one is suggesting that is the case.”

    Sorry, yes evolution does require a member of one species to conceive/give birth to a member of another species. (It requires it billions of times, as a matter of fact.) The first member of a ‘new species’ MUST be born AT SOME POINT in time, correct? (If he is never born, how does he produce descendants who are the present day members of his species?) The genetic variation to differentiate him takes place when he is conceived/born, not a some point later in his life.

    “Evolution does not work on an individual level like that. Speciation occurs on a group level, as has already been explained.”

    The slippery semantics are clearly seen to be used on the evolutionary side.

    Genetic variation occurs on an individual level. Of course it does. Before it can ever be seen in a group of individuals, it must occur in first one, then two, then three individuals and so forth.

    It is disingenuous to say, as evolutionists do, “individuals dont evolve, populations do”. Its like saying “individuals didnt elect Obama, the population did”

    The population doesnt do something that the individuals didnt do, right?

  9. Sorry, yes evolution does require a member of one species to conceive/give birth to a member of another species. (It requires it billions of times, as a matter of fact.) The first member of a ‘new species’ MUST be born AT SOME POINT in time, correct? (If he is never born, how does he produce descendants who are the present day members of his species?) The genetic variation to differentiate him takes place when he is conceived/born, not a some point later in his life.

    This is how I used to think. Its just not that simple.

    Yes, a single mutation will occur at the individual level, but a single mutation does not a new species make.

    Over generations, single mutations will be inherited and so spread through the group and new mutations will also occur.

    Eventually, the combination of those mutations will result in something that is sufficiently different from a previous form that we humans will call it a new species. This is why species taxonomy is difficult because you get similar looking species that are very different genetically and very different looking species that are genetically close. Genetics has given us so much understanding of how animals are related and it has helped immensely to explain evolutionary process.

    There is no such thing as generational border where one species has become another. That is simply not the way it work.

  10. ” a single mutation does not a new species make”

    No and yes.

    Evolutionists argue that it is multiple genetic variations which make a new species. Ok, so the 1st one doesnt make the difference, then you get the 2nd, nope still the same species. Then comes the 3rd, the 4th etc. Lets say that you have 1000 genetic variations and its still the same species. But then we are told

    “the combination of those mutations will result in something” so after perhaps 1001 genetic variations a new species emerges. So in a real sense it IS the 1001st variation that DID make the difference, correct? If after 1000 variations they are still the same species, and after 1001 variations they arent, then that variation did make a new species.

    ———-

    “something that is sufficiently different from a previous form that we humans will call it a new species”

    No, that is not how species are defined. Its not some fuzzy ‘something sufficiently different’. Its a different species if it cannot successfully interbreed (i.e. produce fertile offspring) with the other species, correct?

    “no such thing as generational border where one species has become another”

    There is if “origin of species” takes place. At SOME point in time, Member Numero Uno must be born. That is science. It must be verifiable. If there is no verifiable point at which “origin of species” takes place, then its not scientific.

    • The point to keep in mind is that we’re talking about two groups that have not had any genetic mixing for a period, they are isolated from each other. No single mutation will cause them to cease to be compatible. It will be a combination of mutations that will eventually lead to the two groups no longer being compatible. Also, both groups will be generating their own mutations, it won’t just be one group changing, both will.

      Technically, yes I guess you could have a situation where individuals from one group will not be able to mate with individuals from the other, while their parents can. They will still be able to mate within their own group though. The incompatibility with the other groups will be due to the accumulation of changes between the groups.

      The two groups could still look very similar, or they could now look very different.

      This is exactly why taxonomy is complicated and it really is that fuzzy.

  11. Determining which classification in which to place a critter would be complicated if you use an arbitrary, unverifiable definition of species. It is simple if you use an objective, verifiable definition. Isnt science supposed to be verifiable?

    We have a verifiable definition of species, its the ability to successfully interbreed, right? (Obviously we are talking about organisms that reproduce sexually. If speciation doesnt work at this level, then it doesnt work at all, correct? I mean, what is the use of saying that some critters evolve and produce new species, but others dont?

    • Hi Tim,

      Sadly, its not quite as simple as if they can reproduce, they are the same species.

      The Californian Salamander has already been mentioned above, there are two different looking Salamanders to the south that appear to be different species, yet further north there exists Salamanders that display a graduation between the two.

      You only need to look at what zoologists and biologists say about species differentiation and you’ll see that it really is as easy as your solution suggests.

      • Species are defined by their ability to reproduce. Sorry, but yes that is the standard biological definition.

        Its not ‘how different do they look?’ Beagles and chihuahuas and great danes and dachsunds and pekingese and St Bernards and greyhounds all look quite different, but are the same species.

        • Hi Tim,

          Interesting that every biologist page I look at explains that species definition isn’t cut and dried. Why should I take your word over their?

          Interesting that wolves, from which all our dogs are descended, have a different species name. Examine the canine tree further and you get jackals and foxes too. Some can form hybrids and yet when you examine the genes you get differing numbers of chromosomes and a DNA ‘tree’ that shows how they are related and enables their evolution to be mapped.

          • Dont take my word for it.

            Think it thru for yourself.

            An objective definition is verifiable, therefore scientific. An arbitrary definition isnt verifiable, therefore not scientific.

            If you , or other evolutionists, argue for a definition with lots of room for ‘exceptions’ (and yes I am aware that they do) then what you (and they) are asking for is an arbitrary (unscientific) definition.

            • Tim,

              You appear to be missing the point.

              Yes, sexual compatibility is a great species indicator and that worked well before DNA provided us with much greater understanding of how animals (and plants for that matter) are related to each other.

              Its through that new understanding that we now have a much better view of how different animals are related to each other and gives much better understanding of where they fit in the evolutionary tree. That’s how we can tell that some animals are closely related and others much more distantly related.

              When you factor in common ancestors to related species it serves to add more confusion. If DNA shows us that two animals are closely related and shared a common ancestor only a million or so years ago, are they the same species or not? What if another pair of animals have a common ancestor that’s even older, yet for some reason can still occasionally cross breed?

              The hard line that you take on can they / can’t they, only really works if you take the view that all animals we see were created as they exist now and don’t evolve. The thing is, that is not what happened, animals evolved and some changed more than others over the same time period and animals that look and act different can in cases be more closely related than animals that look similar.

              Some animals can mate but their offspring is sterile, how does that affect the species definition?

              I don’t pretend to know all there is about biology, so when those that know much more than me say its not that simple I tend to believe them rather then my (or your) thought conclusions.

              • I’m not sure if you missed my point, or simply chose to avoid responding to it.

                Science is supposed to be verifiable, right?

                The standard biological definition of species is not something I came up with. It is the definition that is the most accepted by the scientific community, and has been for decades. Why? Its scientifically useful because its verifiable.

                If you throw away the verifiable definition, (which you and other evolutionists want to do) what will you replace it with? An arbitrary (and therefore unverifiable/unscientific) definition, thats what.

                If a species is whatever you or I want to say it is, then thats not science.

                This is where evolution takes us. Thats why its not science. In your thinking you need to understand the difference between science and evolution. They arent synonomous. Science was around long before evolutionary theory, and it will outlast it by a long while. Evolution is unverifiable and also unfalsifiable (which we havent even discussed yet). Its not good science.

                I can post links showing the premier evolutionists of the last 100 years (Mayr, Gould, Dawkins) stating that the standard biological definition of species is the one that is scientifically accepted. And yes I know that, like you, they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want a rule AND arbitrary exceptions to the rule at the same time. Thats the inherent contradictory nature of evolution.

                “A species is XYZ except when its not” is not a scientifically acceptable method for determining species.

                • Hi Tim,

                  I think you’re going to have to spend some time investigating evolution more and learning why it is good science because your reply above is looking at it the wrong way round.

                  You’ve just argued that because the species definition is not a simple and straightforward process evolution must be wrong.

                  Species definition is a human created attempt at explaining and defining the world around us. As we’ve learnt more about how different animals (and plants) work and look we’ve discovered a very complicated family tree. The inter-relatedness of all animals is what makes a definition of species more complicated than you want it to be.

                  This complication of species definition is precisely what would be expected from the evolutionary process. DNA evidence just serves to back that up. We can now see that there is a very large tree of related animals all around us and defining all those animals as different poses challenges. Rather than dismiss evolution off-hand because it doesn’t suit your criteria, you should see that this complexity is evidence for evolution.

  12. “Species definition is a human created attempt at explaining and defining the world around us.”

    No thats not correct. And its not just me.

    “Some recent authors have dealt with the concept of species as if it were merely an arbitrary, man-made concept, like the concepts of reduction, demarcation, cause, derivation, prediction, progress, each of which may have almost as many definitions as there are authors who have written about them. However, the concept biological species is not like such concepts. The term ‘species’ refers to a concrete phenomenon of nature and this fact severely constrains the number and kinds of possible definitions.” http://darwiniana.org/mayrspecies.htm

    “Many people feel the same way about species as I do about Idaho– but this feeling is wrong. Many people suppose that species must be arbitrary divisions of an evolutionary continuum in the same way that state boundaries are conventional divisions of unbroken land. Moreover, this is not merely an abstract issue of scientific theory but a pressing concern of political reality. The Endangered Species Act, for example, sets policy (with substantial teeth) for the preservation of species. But if species are only arbitrary divisions in nature’s continuity, then what are we trying to preserve and how shall we define it? I write this article to argue that such a reading of evolutionary theory is wrong and that species are almost always objective entities in nature.” http://discovermagazine.com/1992/dec/whatisaspecies165#.UkYP69KsiSp

    • Interesting quotes. The first link that you quote from acknowledges that defining species is difficult. Its also a site that accepts evolution. I wonder why it is that you will take the words of a scientist when they appear to agree with your opinion on a specific aspect, even when they disagree with you on the whole.

  13. “you will take the words of a scientist when they appear to agree with your opinion on a specific aspect, even when they disagree with you on the whole”

    Yes. and I have explained why.

    Doubtless there are people , including scientists, with whom you agree on some things but not on all things. What is so unusual about that?

    If a scientist writes a paper that proposes a slight twist or variation on an existing theory, would you say the same thing to him?

    • Well, in my creationist days, any scientist who said anything that I felt challenged the authority of the bible would pretty much get their opinion disregarded by myself.

      Nowadays I like to follow the evidence listen to the argument that is given. That was how I came to realise how evolution is true after all. By actually checking the claims and realising that the there was far more supporting evidence than the creationist literature claimed.

      I tend not to take a stance on disagreeing / agreeing. I take a stance of following where the evidence indicates. If there is major disagreement I sit on the fence rather than pick a side to suit my own position.

      What I do notice is that the major controversial issues tend to be because there are people who oppose the generally accepted science because of an idealistic pre-disposition; creationism, climate change and conspiracy theories are the most obvious ones that spring to mind. Anyway, that’s slightly off topic, this is supposed to be a thread about speciation 🙂

  14. So, back to speciation. Do you understand why an arbitrary definition of species isnt scientific?

    Its not simply my opinion. Its the nature of science itself. Science is supposed to be verifiable.

    • I agree to a point. Having species barriers that are easy to define and spot would make the science a whole lot easier.

      Where I disagree is that for something to be scientific, it is the method by which the information is gathered and the conclusions reached that is important. DNA examination is now able to show us how closely different animals are related to each other. When this is mapped into a lineage it generates a familial tree goes a great job of demonstrating how evolution happened.

      Animals (and plants) that are distantly related are easy to tell apart and define as different species. Those that are more closely related are more difficult. This is what would be expected from evolution if, as suggested, all organic life came from the same original source.

      If all species were created independently, then you’d expect the species barriers to be more easily defined.

      The verifiable part of the science is the method used to reach the results, that’s the scientific bit. The conclusion that species divisions are not always cut and dried is the result of that science, the opinion that they should (or should not) be is not itself science.

  15. “Having species barriers that are easy to define and spot would make the science a whole lot easier.”

    Its not a matter of whats easy and whats not. Its the nature of science. It is supposed to be verifiable. If your method of defining species is arbitrary “well you see, its a different species when it’s XYZ except when it’s not XYZ because it can be a different species then also” thats not verifiable, and therefore its unscientific.

    “If all species were created independently, then you’d expect the species barriers to be more easily defined.”

    An unwarranted assumption based on your opinion of the way something SHOULD have be created if it was created. When you create your own animals, you can do it your way. Go ahead.

    “The conclusion that species divisions are not always cut and dried is the result of that science, the opinion that they should (or should not) be is not itself science.”

    A contradictory statement.

    • Re my comment you quoted “Having species barriers that are easy to define and spot would make the science a whole lot easier.”

      Its not a great sentence. You’re that its not about what’s easy or not. Science is the method by which we gather the facts and the facts determine the conclusions. The facts are that all animals are related and how closely different animals are related is demonstrable. That science is verifiable. Species groups is our best way of differentiating between different animals, this is easy when the animals are very different, not so easy when they are very similar. Apparently lions and tigers are considered separate species, yet its possible to get a liger. As I’ve said before species definition is complex, this is precisely what would be expect as a result of evolution from a common ancestor. Pointing at species confusion and calling it unscientific misses the point, especially as species definitions are mans best attempt at differentiating interrelated animals. Of course there will be some odd results, who on earth would expect the result to be cut and dried perfection?

      A contradictory statement.

      No, at worst I said the same thing twice, there was no contradiction.

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