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Evolution hasn't been proven (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Evolution hasn't been proven (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CA202:

Evolution has not been, and cannot be, proved. We cannot even see evolution (beyond trivially small change), much less test it experimentally.

Source: Morris, Henry M. 1985. Scientific Creationism. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 4-6.

CreationWiki response:

Talk.Origins gives a list of the typical so-called evidences for evolution. Note, however, that even if the evidence provided supported evolution, there is no dispute that it does not prove evolution, thus the author's argument against this claim is unsuccessful either way.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

Nothing in the real world can be proved with absolute certainty. However, high degrees of certainty can be reached. In the case of evolution, we have huge amounts of data from diverse fields. Extensive evidence exists in all of the following different forms (Theobald 2004). Each new piece of evidence tests the rest.

Of course, "huge" is the author's opinion. It is the opinion of most creationists that the evidence for evolution amounts to very little.

All life shows a fundamental unity in the mechanisms of replication, heritability, catalysis, and metabolism.

This is undisputed but not an evidence for evolution. God used similar designs when creating different animals and plants. The only thing that makes one see this as an evidence for evolution is the assumption that God had nothing to do with the process of creation.

Fossil animals fit in the same tree of life. We find several cases of transitional forms in the fossil record.

Creationists accept the existence of transitional forms between variations within the created kinds, but not between created kinds. So Talk.Origins' ambiguous mention of the existence of transitional forms proves nothing.

Perhaps in the overactive imaginations of convinced evolutionists there are transitional forms between what creationists would consider created kinds, but there are many problems, most notably that the number of supposed transitional forms is much less than it should be (the theory of punctuated equilibrium was invented because of this). Creationists have been able to show how many claims of transitional fossils are not really transitional time and time again, despite the attempts by evolutionists to protect the only hard "evidence" they can find.

The fossils appear in a chronological order, showing change consistent with common descent over hundreds of millions of years and inconsistent with sudden creation.

The "chronological order" that Talk.Origins refers to is one that is itself part of the same naturalistic philosophy that evolution is based on. According to the creation model, the order is a burial order, not an order of appearance of life forms. The fossil record is perfectly consistent with the creation model if one does not assume uniformitarianism and evolution to start with. The whole reason the theory of punctuated equilibrium was invented was because the fossil record was more consistent with sudden creation than gradual evolution and evolutionists needed an argument to explain it.

Many organisms show rudimentary, vestigial characters, such as sightless eyes or wings useless for flight.

Many so-called "vestigial" organs have since been found to have useful functions that they still serve. In humans, the number of so-called vestigial organs numbered over one hundred, but that number has been reduced to zero.

In any case, vestigial organs—organs which no longer have a useful purpose—indicate a loss of genetic information, as predicted by the creation model, not a gain as required by the evolution hypothesis.

Atavisms sometimes occur. An atavism is the reappearance of a character present in a distant ancestor but lost in the organism's immediate ancestors.

Or, if one does not assume evolution to begin with, an atavism is just as easily seen as a character present in one animal that God decided to put in another more complex animal. This is yet another example of evolutionists claiming facts support their theory when they can just as readily support the creation model. Or even better support the creation model. If the character genuinely was lost and later reappeared, that indicates that the same character evolved twice, an incredibly unlikely scenario.

We only see atavisms consistent with organisms' evolutionary histories.

This is meaningless, as the very definition of atavism implies an evolutionary throwback. Any change that is not 'consistent' with an organism's supposed evolutionary history will not be considered an atavism, so what does this 'observation' prove?

Ontogeny (embryology and developmental biology) gives information about the historical pathway of an organism's evolution. For example, as embryos whales and many snakes develop hind limbs that are reabsorbed before birth.

The so-called "vestigial legs" that whales develop are used in reproduction and probably do not have anything to do with any walking whale ancestors. As for the snakes' hind limbs, the joke is on Talk.Origins, for many creationists believe that snakes did once walk until God cursed the serpent in the Garden of Eden! (a mutation that hinders their proper prenatal development, perhaps?)

The distribution of species is consistent with their evolutionary history. For example, marsupials are mostly limited to Australia, and the exceptions are explained by continental drift. Remote islands often have species groups that are highly diverse in habits and general appearance but closely related genetically. Squirrel diversity coincides with tectonic and sea level changes (Mercer and Roth 2003). Such consistency still holds when the distribution of fossil species is included.

It is uncertain how this has anything to do with evolution, although just by reading this we can see once again how, to make this conclusion, one must assume only natural causes to begin with.

Unless Talk.Origins is proposing that all marsupials evolved from an original marsupial (in various forms parallel to similar non-marsupial counterparts), then the evolution model does not explain why most marsupials are to be found in Australia.

Evolution predicts that new structures are adapted from other structures that already exist, and thus similarity in structures should reflect evolutionary history rather than function. We see this frequently. For example, human hands, bat wings, horse legs, whale flippers, and mole forelimbs all have similar bone structure despite their different functions.

This is completely irrelevant, as is the author's next point. Similar structures in species are only evidence for evolution if one eliminates supernatural possibilities in the first place. To creationists, they are simply evidence of a common Designer who used similar features in His creations.

Additionally, if similar structures evolved from an original structure, we should expect that they developed in a similar manner. Yet despite the considerable similarity between human hands and the feet of frogs, they develop in radically different ways[1]. This does not really fit with the evolutionary hypothesis, but is entirely consistent with a Creator creating both of them and reusing some aspects of the design.

When two organisms evolve the same function independently, different structures are often recruited. For example, wings of birds, bats, pterosaurs, and insects all have different structures. Gliding has been implemented in many additional ways. Again, this applies on a molecular level, too.

This is irrelevant, as one must eliminate the possibility of a Designer in the first place to make this an evidence.

The constraints of evolutionary history sometimes lead to suboptimal structures and functions. For example, the human throat and respiratory system make it impossible to breathe and swallow at the same time and make us susceptible to choking.

What evolutionists sometimes claim to be "suboptimal design" has often turned out to be good design. Just because an evolutionist imagines that it could be done in a better way doesn't mean that their way is actually better in all respects. Sometimes such alleged suboptimal designs can be a result of degradation since creation as a result of the Fall, however.

Speciation has been observed.

This point is not disputed, and is not an evidence for evolution. It's amazing how the evolutionists keep making claims like this when creationary scientists, such as those at Creation Ministries International have been not only acknowledging this, but pointing out that the creation model requires speciation.

The day-to-day aspects of evolution -- heritable genetic change, morphological variation and change, functional change, and natural selection -- are seen to occur at rates consistent with common descent.

Although this would then present an inconsistency in both the theories of punctuated equilibrium and the traditional theory of evolution (since the fossil record contradicts the latter and present data the former), one must make the assumption that radiometric dating (which is supposed to give us the ages of fossils, and thus, the rate at which evolution supposedly occurred) is reliable, which it is not, to make this an evidence. In other words, the evolutionary application of this evidence relies on evolutionary timescales to work.

The evidence is extensive and consistent, and it points unambiguously to evolution, including common descent, change over time, and adaptation influenced by natural selection. It would be preposterous to refer to these as anything other than facts.

To count these as valid evidences for evolution, one must assume several things, mainly that species evolved naturally and that there is no possibility that God could have created them directly, but with similar structures. So while the facts are consistent, it is evolutionists' interpretation of the facts that is flawed and illogical.

As is shown above, a number of the evidences put forward do not actually support evolution over creation (they are consistent with both ideas), and if the evidence did "unambiguously" support evolution, there would not be as many scientists as there are that don't see it that way.