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Explaining Evolution To A Nutcase


Dakota
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Hey Everybody!

 

I know what the Theory of Evolution is, I don't pretend to be an expert, but I know what it is. The problem I have is when explaining it to someone who either doesn't know what it is, or thinks they do but has seriously misinterpreted it. Mostly christians. Whenever I try to explain evolution to a Christian it seems to go over their head, mainly because the only way I can explain it is with big words and long sentences. Does anyone know of a more "compact" to the point way of explaining evolution that will still show christians that their "creationist" thing doesn't work? I just need something relatively short, to the point, intelligent, but not so intelligent it will go over someone's head if they aren't familiar with it.

 

The crazy thing is, alot of these people I end up explaining it to were sitting right next to me in science class in high school, i know damn well I was taught about evolution in that class, so how come I seem to be the only one who remembers it??

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Dakota

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Quickest esplanation: Evolution is change over time, adaptation to better suit the environment. Of course, to thoroughly explain it you need need to get into genetics, population genetics, natural selection and sexual selection. You're not going to convince a fundy, especially if you're going for the short explanation.

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Dakota the quickest way that I know to explain it is like this...

 

1) Organism reproduce with heritable variation.

2) Many more organism are born than will survive to reproduce (natural selection).

3) Therefore evolution ensues.

 

THis type of arguement makes no recourse to all the other evidence (fossils, genetics, etc.) that we have concerning evolution. However if points 1) and 2) are accepted then 3) naturally follows.

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The best person to explain it in simple terms (that I know of) would be Mr. Neil. He's a member here at ExC so, if you send him a PM with a link to this thread asking him to comment, I'm pretty sure that he'll be more than happy to do so.

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survival of the fittest. Horse like creature with slightly longer legs more likely to survive and pass it on. Whichever of his/her offspring has longest legs is more likely to survive, and pass it on. Everytime a horse (or its ancestor) has kids the longer the legs, the more likely it is to survive. So they genes for long legs survive and the genes for short legs don't. This way horses legs tend to get longer and longer.

We back this up by finding fossils of a horse like thing with short legs. Then one very similar to the first but with slight differences and in younger rocks. Then one similar again, but with even longer legs and in younger rock. then we have what we have today, again slightly different to the last fossil.

Obviousely other charicturistics are changed too, so the biggest heart kids survive too, strongest lungs, etc. This way the weaker genes die out.

 

We age the rock with radiometric dating.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html

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Dakota the quickest way that I know to explain it is like this...

 

1) Organism reproduce with heritable variation.

2) Many more organism are born than will survive to reproduce (natural selection).

3) Therefore evolution ensues.

 

THis type of arguement makes no recourse to all the other evidence (fossils, genetics, etc.) that we have concerning evolution. However if points 1) and 2) are accepted then 3) naturally follows.

Wow, that is the best nutshell explanation I've seen. :Medal: It leaves out all the stuff that could change and just says what hasn't changed since Darwin.

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Thanks everybody, that helps. One of the people I'm explaining evolution to is a fundy, she asked me the other day, "Well if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?" :ugh::twitch: This is the type of question that makes me want to slam my head into a wall, it is so stupid. It may have been very immature of me, but i responded with, "Your bible says your god made man out of dirt, if this is true, why is there still dirt?" She didn't have an answer for that, :lmao: .

 

the other people I've been explaining evolution to are christians, but extremely liberal, and have just been out of school for so long they don't remember any of it. In fact at least one of them was out of school before they even began teaching it!

 

When it comes to evolution you almost always wind up explaining it "in depth" but the responses you gave will help me to just lay the basic's out and see how its recieved.

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Um, I tried once to explain evolution to christians.

 

I'd rather watch paint dry then attempt it again. :ugh:

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Dakota the quickest way that I know to explain it is like this...

 

1) Organism reproduce with heritable variation.

2) Many more organism are born than will survive to reproduce (natural selection).

3) Therefore evolution ensues.

 

THis type of arguement makes no recourse to all the other evidence (fossils, genetics, etc.) that we have concerning evolution. However if points 1) and 2) are accepted then 3) naturally follows.

Wow, that is the best nutshell explanation I've seen. :Medal: It leaves out all the stuff that could change and just says what hasn't changed since Darwin.

Thanks for the kudos Scitso. I had many opportunities while debating my fundamentalist father to hone my arguement for evolution. He wouldn't accept most scientific interpretations but he couldn't deny facts 1) and 2) above (organism should be plural by the way). Despite that however he refused to acknowledge that evolution could occur.

 

I rarely ever defend or advocate evolution anymore. It's a waste of time. Those who reject it are not doing so for intellectual reasons. I strongly feel that they reject it simply because they will not accept common ancestory. For whatever reasons (usually religious of course) they must not accept that people are organisms among organisms. I suppose in their eyes people must remain inordinately special and above the rest of the natural world.

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Christians live and die by analogies, so perhaps the best way to explain evolution is in terms of something they can potentially comprehend in the form of an experiment almost anyone can reproduce. I've used this many times, and it seems to help.

 

A modern life form reproduces. If there were no limits from the environment, it would reproduce without bound. Copy errors (aka mutations) made here and there would also reproduce without bound. All variations would continue to reproduce without bound, assuming a copy error was not severe enough to prevent additional copies. If it was, that particular variation would stop copying.

 

But here's the problem. Nature does impose limits. A finite earth can not support an infinite number of copies of lifeforms (along with infinite copies of any imperfect copies). The copies that reproduce better than others will drown out the ones that don't reproduce very well, until the ones that reproduce well are all that's left. If something happens to the environment, any copies that reproduce better under the new scenario will come to dominate for the same reasons.

 

In engineering terms, the reproduction is a positive feedback loop. The limits imposed by nature are a nonlinearity. So in engineering terms, evolution boils down to a positive feedback loop in a nonlinear system.

 

So here's the experiment, and it behaves exactly the same. Get a karaoke system, or some other similar system with a microphone and a speaker. Now place the microphone near the speaker. If the volume is set just right, you'll be able to hear all kinds of random tones, sqeaks, squeels, etc., until one single tone (or a set of harmonic tones) comes to dominate and is the only thing heard. Now move the microphone slightly. The same thing will happen, but now a different set of harmonically related tones comes to dominate. This is the exact same fundamental principle of nonlinear positive feedback that underlies evolution. Clever engineers can even predict how such a simplified version of a system will behave.

 

Evolution is the same thing. Many species are seen to rapidly converge on a stable form until the environment changes, which is similar to moving the microphone in the experiment.

 

Hope that helps!

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The best way to get them to grasp evolution, if they can or want to, is to break it down into little steps. "Evolution" is not just one theory (be sure to explain the scientific definition of theory to them) but many combined under one roof.

 

Start with the Earth is old. We have ice cores, varved clays*, and other geological features that can only be explained by an old Earth and do not fit any of the formations that would be left behind by a flood.

 

Then explain that we have proof that types of animals living in the past are no longer found today and that animals found today are not found in the past.

 

Once you get them to understand that, I doubt they'll admit to it though, then you can explain that evolution is simply change over time and it takes lots of time. In biology a fast change in a species can take 50,000 years. Some European honey bees in the Caribbean did it in a few hundred years, but it usually takes much longer. Since the Earth is around 4.567 billion years old, there has been plenty of time.

 

Start with those and see if you can make some headway with them.

 

 

 

*Varve (or varved clay) is clay with visible annual layers, formed by seasonal differences in erosion and organic content. This type of deposit is common in former glacial lakes from an ice age. Some of these deposits go back millions of years.

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