Dear Straight Dope:
If cecil belive's in evolution,first of all how do you explain the big bang theory,if all the matter was pulled together by a gravitational spin, and then it exploded creating the planets and thier orbit, how is it possible that the planets and moons rotate in different directions? Also how do you explain that we havent ever seen a animal "evolve" into somthing else? It is a fact that the sun is shrinking at a constant rate, knowing this, if the earth was millions of years old it would have ingulfed the earth, and life would not be possible. these are few of many questions i have about evolution, thank you so much for your time.
SDStaff David replies:
Wow! Somebody’s been reading creationist literature and pretty much nothing else, from the looks of things. Excuse me for not correcting your writing mistakes, but I figure when I have to spend this much time dealing with basic logic problems — you bring up three major fallacies in a few short lines! — for spelling and grammar you’re on your own.
All the questions you raise are standard creationist claims. All have been debunked many times. Heck, I even wrote an article debunking the “shrinking sun” myth, “Honey I Shrunk the Sun! Evolution of a Creationist Myth.” In the interest of brevity I won’t replay that whole discussion here. Instead let’s address your other two arguments.
A good start would be to realize that there’s a difference between biology and physics. The theory of evolution has nothing to do with the Big Bang theory. Yes, creationists oppose both, but that’s about the only connection. Evolution deals with what happened to life on Earth once it began. The Big Bang deals with how the entire universe came into being. If the Big Bang theory was somehow proven wrong tomorrow, it would have absolutely no effect on the theory of evolution, and vice versa.
That said, let’s look at your Big Bang “spin” argument. The main problem is your initial assumption. According to the Big Bang theory, the universe exploded into being from a singularity. I’m not sure where you got your claim of it being “pulled together by a gravitational spin” (actually, I’m pretty sure I know where you got it — creationist propaganda; indeed, I am reasonably sure I even know which creationist!), but it’s just not part of the theory.
The Big Bang exploded everything outwards, including space itself. There was no previous spin so there is no reason everything should be spinning in the same direction. Furthermore, some planets are spinning in different directions because they collided with other objects. All in all, it’s a faulty premise and doesn’t take into account anything that happened after the Big Bang.
On to the next argument — the common one about not having seen animals evolving into “something else.” The obvious answer to this is that while all species are evolving, since the change is so gradual, it takes many generations to become noticeable. But it’s happening all right. As noted in Science and Creationism, A View from the National Academy of Sciences, “on a minor scale, we ‘experience’ evolution occurring every day. The annual changes in influenza viruses and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are both products of evolutionary forces. Indeed, the rapidity with which organisms with short generation times, such as bacteria and viruses, can evolve under the influence of their environments is of great medical significance. Many laboratory experiments have shown that, because of mutation and natural selection, such microorganisms can change in specific ways from those of immediately preceding generations.
“On a larger scale, the evolution of mosquitoes resistant to insecticides is another example of the tenacity and adaptability of organisms under environmental stress. Similarly, malaria parasites have become resistant to the drugs that were used extensively to combat them for many years. As a consequence, malaria is on the increase, with more than 300 million clinical cases of malaria occurring every year.”
In addition, contrary to your claim, there are examples of speciation having indeed occurred. You can find some of them in the “Observed Instances of Speciation” and “Some More Observed Speciation Events” articles at the talk.origins archive (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-s peciation.html and http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciatio n.html).
Incidentally, I think it’s safe to say Cecil does indeed accept evolution, because of the mountains of evidence supporting it. He doesn’t “believe” in it, though, because it’s not something one “believes in.” It’s science, not religion. The only way you can buy into creationism, though, is to take it on faith.
Send questions to Cecil via email@example.com.
STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.