Archive for September, 2009

Sep 01 2009

Evolving Mice

Evolution deniers (and deniers in general) often support their denial with the baseless assertion that there is no evidence for evolution, or for some aspect of evolution, like natural selection. It’s easy to make this claim if you are just ignorant of the evidence, or don’t care about factual accuracy. More sophisticated deniers are well aware of the evidence, they just rationalize some trivial excuse to dismiss it.

It amazes me to this day that creationists can say with a straight face that there are no transitional fossils, when such fossil evidence is regularly pulled from the ground, and numerous dramatic examples (or at least their replicas) fill our museums. In a pinch they say, for example, that Archeopteryx is not a transitional species from dinosaur to bird, it’s just a bird that happened to have teeth, and a long tail, and claws, and lacked certain flight adaptations. Although at other times they might say it was just a dinosaur with feathers. This is denial by labeling.

There is also evidence for the ability of mutation and natural selection to produce adaptive changes in a population.  The most elegant and detailed of this kind of evidence is now the research of Richard Lenski, who followed thousands of generations of bacteria in the lab, showing how they made a series of mutations that resulted in their ability to thrive on citrate as a new food source. Answers in Genesis has a typically incoherent rationalization, based upon their own ignorance of evolutionary theory:

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