First of all, I just wanted to say "Hooray!" for the three letters that Isthmus
printed on this topic. I'm glad someone was able to say many of things I did in a way more suitable for publication (i.e. succinctly.)
bluethedog wrote: I saw this show on PBS where they theorized how dogs came about from wolves and it happened a lot quicker than standard evolutionary theory would predict.
Might be even fast enough for creationists to say "look, it must be the hand of god" since your evolution theory would never expect a change to occur so quickly.
Nothing in evolutionary theory rules out quick changes. In fact, it actually predicts it under the right conditions (geographical isolation coupled with rapid environmental change, for example.) That said, the example above is flawed for the simple reason that the distinction between dogs and wolves isn't really a biological one, as they can still interbreed and produce viable offspring. If you think about it, there's much more variation between disparate dog breeds than there is between dogs and wolves. A German shepherd and a wolf are more capable of sexually reproducing than a chihuahua and a Great Dane. I'd bet most evolutionary biologists would argue that we're in the midst of a speciation event - right now, the lines are still kinda blurred. Such a blurry line of demarcation between species, of course, supports evolutionary theory and leaves a pretty big hole in any theory that argues for unique, creation events for every individual species (as Creationism and ID both do.)
butters wrote:Isn't domestication a form of evolution?
Absolutely, but it replaces human choices for natural selection as the non-random factor which drives it.
butters wrote:And if it IS evolution, and it is occurring right before our eyes...
Game, set, match
Yeah, you'd think so, but Creationists side-step the issue by, as usual, appropriation and misuse of scientific terms. They argue that domestic breeding and changes within a species are examples of microevolution
while changes above the species level (like the transition from a fish to a land animal) would demonstrate macroevolution
. While Creationists accept the existence of the former (considering it's readily observable and they'd expose themselves as total fools if they denied it) they firmly state that since no one has ever witnessed macroevolution, it doesn't exist.
Now, a bright six-year-old could poke a hole in such an argument: Nobody's ever witnessed a black hole, a quark, or a mountain range on an extrasolar planet, either, but that surely doesn't mean they don't exist. But the real problem with such a distinction is it misses the thrust of evolutionary theory completely, which tells us that small changes accumulate over time. Since there is no known barrier to large scale changes (another way to falsify evolutionary theory would be to find such a barrier, btw) microevolution implies macroevolution.
If small changes accumulate over time, it surely must follow that they eventually become large changes and even small changes at the gene level can produce very large changes in adult organisms. Another problem with this Creationist position is that nothing in evolutionary theory would lead us to expect to be able to observe large changes directly in the first place -- if a lizard turned into a bird in only a few generations, that would be strong evidence against
evolution. But the fossil record is chock full of transitional lifeforms that only make sense in the context of evolution and they provide the evidence that macroevolution has occurred. In the end, though, the biggest strike against this particular Creationist argument is simpler still: The veracity of evolutionary theory does not depend, not even a little bit, on being able to observe macroevolution. There is such a plethora of other evidence that it's absurd to even consider macroevolution's supposed unobservability as a strike against it.