Topic randomly selected from a list of apologetic questions.
#52. What are the key pieces of evidence for evolution?
1. Ancient Organism Remains
We’ve found fossils, bones, insects in amber, petrified wood, and even ancient animals preserved to this day in ice (I recall not too long ago some villagers in Russia were eating a preserved mammoth).
So what do remains tell us about evolution? By their existence alone, very little; but they are the primary evidence from the past that we have to work with. Dating methods can tell us these remains are very old, but that alone doesn’t prove evolution. I believe the case for evolution from organism remains involves arranging them sequentially to form a kind of pattern. So if we can see that the oldest remains are generally the most simple forms of life, & the newer remains are generally the more complex forms of life, this corroborates the idea that all lifeforms are related, with the more complex forms having evolved from the less complex forms.
Of course, this pattern only corroborates the theory of evolution. In other words; it doesn’t rule evolution out; but neither does it indicate that evolution is true.
2. Fossil Layers
I would think fossil layers are a component of ancient organism remains, but I suppose it is a particularly important part of the case for evolution. Fossils are found in sedimentary rock because it is formed by adding layer upon layer of dust, dirt, & debris (including dinosaurs). We know how sedimentary rock is formed (well, I don’t; but I know what scientists say – I guess that’s going to have to do because I’m not going to get a science degree) & we can see distinct layers of sedimentary rock, indicating different conditions, sediment materials, etc. This helps compare various strata (distinct layers).
Fossil layers help to compare ages of fossils. When dinosaurs are always found below elephants, it suggests they lived & died much earlier than elephants did. I don’t know if we actually find any elephant fossils, but I don’t care. You get the idea.
3. Similarities Among Living Organisms
Here’s the main point, in my understanding. Look around. There are a number of distinct body types. Zebras, donkeys, and horses are quite similar. Chimps are very similar to humans. It seems natural to suggest that similar animals are related in some way. With genetics, we can see that similar animals have similar DNA.
All of this corroborates very nicely with the theory of evolution, but again there doesn’t seem to be any positive evidence. If God were to create all animals in a day, and He wanted to make two kinds of animals that were very similar, wouldn’t you expect Him to use similar DNA?
But I think there’s a little more to it than this. Scientists claim they can identify copying errors in genes in humans that are the same in some primates supposed to be relatives. If this is correct, this would seem to be positive evidence for evolution. This is where it helps to be an evolutionary scientist. How are the rest of us supposed to take claims like this? I try to give the benefit of the doubt & if possible go with the majority opinion
There is another factor when you add geology into the picture. For example, I’m sure you’ve noticed that certain continents form a very obvious jigsaw puzzle. If we suppose that, for instance, Africa & South America were once joined (& how can we not suppose this?), we can then look for similarities in plant & animal life in those two areas. It turns out (so I’m told – remember, I’m not a scientist), that you have a very peculiar similarity in some plant & animal life between those two far away continents. If plants & animals were simply randomly distributed, there should be arbitrary similarities (for example between south africa & Alaska, or Germany & Australia), but what we seem to find are similarities between regions bordering each other, and regions that were clearly at one time bordering each other. Very peculiar, in my mind.
4. Similarities of Embryos
I guess the similarities of embryos goes along the same lines as above, so I’m not going to get into this too much. It strikes me as not particularly odd that various animal types would develop from nearly identical embryos; whether evolution is true or not.
Ask the Doctor; maybe he knows
So there you have it; 4 factors that are seen as strong evidence of evolution. If you were trying to figure out whether I believe in evolution or not, you may have been frustrated. I am skeptical of evolution in general, however there are aspects I find compelling. It seems to have some explanatory power, but significant holes. Since I know that God exists & is the creator, I know that all life being related is not too difficult for Him, but I can’t figure out how it works & I’m not particularly worried about it. On the other hand, creating everything distinct is perfectly reasonable as well.