On the other hand, there are a lot of Intelligent Design Creationists who don't accept macroevolution. It seems to me that this could only be because they are Young Earth Creationists or they believe in some other strange idea where god(s) make every species.
It's hard to figure out what they mean.
Let's look at a recent post by philosopher Vincent Torley. He didn't like my posts about macroevolution [What is "macroevolution"? ] [A chemist who doesn't understand evolution] so he decided to set me straight: Does Professor Larry Moran (or anyone else) understand macroevolution?.
In today’s post, I, a non-scientist, am going to make the audacious claim that Professor Moran, an eminent biochemist, doesn’t really understand macroevolution, even though he has written an article about it and doesn’t think it’s particularly hard to understand, if you are willing to try. I sincerely hope my article will cause Professor Moran to reconsider his views, but it’s never an easy thing to convince someone of something that they’re inclined to resist. Wish me luck!It's a long post but all we have to do is read the summary in order to understand his problem. He has three issues that, he thinks, make it impossible to understand or accept macroevolution. Let's look at each of them.
1. We don't know how to precisely define a "species" therefore we can't understand macroevolution.
First, since macroevolution can be roughly defined as evolutionary change at or beyond the species level, you can’t really understand what macroevolution is unless you have a proper understanding of what a species is. Recent evidence shows: (i) that the current scientific understanding of what constitutes a species is severely deficient; (ii) that species can be characterized by their unique genes and proteins, and (iii) that because each species has hundreds of these unique genes and proteins, the task of explaining how new species arise is much harder than biologists had previously imagined.If I understand him correctly, he allows for the possibility that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor—a scientific fact—but rejects the possibility that we can understand how this happened. The reason we don't understand this particular example of macroevolution is that we don't know for sure whether humans and chimpanzees are separate species. We also don't understand macroevolution because we can't give a blow-by-blow description of all the molecular events that occurred in the past five million years since we last shared a common ancestor with chimps.
It's not clear to me whether Vincent Torley accepts common ancestry but want more details or whether he's using this an an excuse to believe in the separate creation of humans and chimpanzees. It would also be nice to know if he is speaking for most Intelligent Design Creationists.
The fuzziness about the definition of species is a curious argument. Everything we know about evolution tells us that the boundaries between separate populations, subspecies, and true species should be difficult to establish with any precision. That's exactly what modern evolutionary theory leads us to expect.
I'm not very clear on the "Theory" of Intelligent Design Creationism. Maybe it also predicts what it will be difficult to decide whether Neanderthals and Denisovans are separate species or part of Homo sapiens. Does anyone know how Intelligent Design Creationism deals with these problems? Can it tell us whether lions and tigers are different species or whether brown bears and polar bears are different species?
2. We don't understand why evolution stops, therefore we don't understand macroevolution.
Second, you can’t claim to understand what makes something go – a car for instance – unless you also understand what makes it stop. Scientists such as Professor Moran claim to understand the mechanism of macroevolution, but for most of geological time, that mechanism has been in stop-mode, and they have no idea why, as they themselves freely admit. What that means is that there must be some vital X-factor that helps drive macroevolution, which their theories haven’t taken into account.What the heck is he talking about? You have to read more of his essay to get to the punchline. As you might have guessed, he's talking about stasis, and punctuated equilibria.
You can't stop evolution. The rate at which large populations change from one morphological form to another can be very slow but that does not mean they aren't changing in diversity as new alleles increase in frequency and old ones are lost. From time to time, new morphological variants may become fixed in the population and evolution becomes visible in the fossil record. These types of change are more likely to occur during speciation events when the new daughter population (species) is quite small and rapid fixation of rare alleles is more likely. That's what punctuated equilbirium is all about.
There's no great mystery here. I think I understand what's going on. Evolutionary biologists argue about whether punctuated equilibria describes a very common mode of macroevolutionary change or one that's very rare but none of them think that changes in the allele frequencies of a population comes to a grinding halt during periods of stasis.
I hope I'm not being unkind if I suggest that Vincent Torely is the one who doesn't understand what's going on. He is an IDiot, after all.
[Aside. I don't know much about how cars work aside from some vague notions about internal combustion engines and differential gears. The other day, my car stopped working. I changed the battery and it started working again. I think I understand why it stopped working.]
3. There's not enough time for evolution to occur therefore we don't understand macroevolution.
Third, you can’t really claim to understand a mechanism for getting from A to B unless you can demonstrate – at least with back-of-the-envelope calculations – that the mechanism is capable of getting from A to B in the time available. If you are unable to produce the required calculations, then your claim to understand how the process works is tantamount to nothing more than hand-waving. As it turns out, scientific arguments that there’s plenty of time for macroevolution are fundamentally flawed, which means that evolutionary biologists are back at square one.I recently wrote up a little description of the differences between the human and chimpanzee/bonobo genomes showing that those differences are perfectly consistent with everything we know about mutation rates and the fixation of alleles in populations [Why are the human and chimpanzee/bonobo genomes so similar?]. In other words, I answered Vincent Torley's question.
That post was met with deafening silence from the IDiots. I wonder why?
Perhaps Torely wants something more than just a demonstration that there's IS enough time and all the evidence suggests that our explanations are adequate? Perhaps what he wants is all the gory details for every single modern species and he won't be satisfied with anything less? If that's what the IDiots want then they will never be able to understand that whales evolved from land animals and birds evolved from dinosaurs.
However, they can't possibly have any other explanation that meets such exacting standards so the best the can say is that they are ignorant.2 Why then are they defending Intelligent Design Creationism, an idea that's orders of magnitude away from a detained blow-by-blow description of the origins of chimpanzees and humans? I'd hate to accuse them of having a double standard but there doesn't seem to be any other explanation.
1. Although most of them seem to have a visceral aversion to being identified as "Theistic Evolutionists."
2. Yes, I do know the meaning of the word "oxymoron."