Oftentimes, creationists mangle the definition of evolution to make it sound stupid (which it isn’t, not by a long shot), while other times, it’s just somebody not understanding what the theory’s about. I intend to provide you with the answers to five common misconceptions about evolution.
- Misconception: Evolution says we came from the Big Bang, out of primordial goo, and came from apes. Wow. This is so commonly used it’s frightening. In reality, though, evolution doesn’t explain how the universe came to be, ’cause that’s cosmology. It doesn’t even explain the origins of life, since natural selection assumes that animals are present, and then goes on from there. And the last bit? That’s actually not what evolution says. It says that humans and apes had a common ancestor, and that the ancestor mutated two ways: one way into modern apes, and the other into hominid species that gradually evolved into humans. Evolution by the scientific definition basically explains how life evolved and diversified to fill niches. It’s some pretty cool stuff, even if you don’t support it.
- Misconception: Evolution was Charles Darwin’s idea. Actually, Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, wrote in one of his books that he theorized that life could have evolved over millions of years. True story! But the idea of natural selection goes back all the way to the time of Aristotle, and even slightly before that. Evolution has a fascinating history that isn’t just made up of court cases, you know. Darwin really just went into much more detail, and went farther than Erasmus or Aristotle did. Though Charles is a lot catchier than Empedocles.
- Misconception: Evolution says that there is no God. Not true, since evolution doesn’t explain how the universe, Earth, or even the first life came to be. That’s explained in the first misconception. Theistic evolution, the idea that God set the ball rolling, and observed the events to follow, is entirely possible, though many ministries hate it. The point is, evolution is not necessarily atheistic, despite what the creationists say.
- Misconception: Evolution says that we gain things, not lose them. Not true at all. “Directional evolution” does not exist in the real world. If that was true, we’d all look like tanks. Evolution explains adaptions, like for instance: if you’re a fish with legs and lungs, it doesn’t make any sense for you to be floundering around in the water like that. Therefore, you might as well lose your fins. On a related note, Kent Hovind claims that there had to be a point in dinosaur-bird evolution where the form had half a wing. What use is that? I don’t know, unless you look at: flying squirrels, flying fish, and various other creatures that can glide, but still function normally. Plus, wings have many other uses, like attracting a mate, lining your nest, or just tucking your head under at night.
- Misconception: The lack of evidence for new genetic information forming disproves evolution. This one I found in an Answers in Genesis video, and then in the excellent book Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry A. Coyne. The argument basically says that since there is no evidence for new genetic information being added to DNA, evolution is basically refuted right then and there. But, as Coyne puts it, evolution is like an architect that can only change a house, while still making it habitable. The AiG video asks how a fish can become a frog without genetic information being added. Well, the information, rather than being added, could be changed. So, how can a fish become a frog without genetic information being added? Fins change into legs, and you lose the gills. The gill mechanisms evolve into lungs. Get the picture?