Myths and Misconceptions

While it is true that new traits can appear through the accumulation of small random genetic mutations, it is the non-random process of Natural Selection that determines which traits to keep and which to discard. For example, a random mutation may cause a brown squirrel to be born white. But if the squirrel lives on a brown tree, its color will quickly alert predators to its existence. The white squirrel will not live long enough to reproduce and pass on the trait. In this environment, nature selects for brown squirrels, not white. If the process were random, then the white squirrel would survive just as well as the brown.


While it is true that many mutations can cause problems for an organism, sometimes lethal, not all mutations are harmful.  Most mutations are caused by single-point errors in the copying of a strand of DNA.  For example, a strand of ATAGC may change to ATATC.  This can have three major effects: a deleterious effect, a positive effect, or no effect at all.  Deleterious effects, those which threaten the survival of the organism, will not accumulate, because they will kill the organism before it has a chance to reproduce.  Conversely, mutations which cause no effect or a positive effect will accumulate in a population's genome.  This is how Natural Selection works.  It "selects" for positive changes in the genome, because only the positive changes will accumulate.

Certain mutations can add new, large pieces of DNA at a time. See this question on Gene Duplication for more information.


This claim is based on the calculations of all of the millions of molecules in a single cell forming by chance. No scientist believes this is how life formed. Instead, most theories of "abiogenesis" begin with simple self-replicating molecules which could have formed naturally.  It is believed that such a self-replicating molecule formed the earliest versions of DNA. After many thousands of years of adaptations, all governed by the non-random process of Natural Selection, did the first microbe finally develop.

For a more detailed explanation of the math involved, please see the article on this site titled The Probability of Life.


Firstly, man did not evolve from modern apes. Man and modern apes share a common ancestor, which is extinct. However, the question comes from a flawed understanding of how evolution works. Evolution is not a straight line, where entire populations change into new species all at the same time. Often times, a small group breaks away from a population and begins to evolve independently of the source group. The source group does not need to go extinct, and is generally unaffected by the development of the smaller group.  This is called "Allopatric Speciation," and it is just one of many ways that new species can evolve. There is nothing in evolutionary theory which states a source population must go extinct in order for new species to evolve.


The concept of a "missing link" between humans and apes arose in the 19th century, when the fossil record was largely incomplete. Large gaps separated species, casting doubt on the theory of evolution. But in the last 130 years, a plethora of fossils have been discovered, greatly narrowing the gaps between species. The Australopithecus afarensis fossil known as "Lucy" is considered to be a key fossil bridging the gap between humans and primitive hominids.


It is often argued that the eye is so complex that it could not have evolved naturally.  The idea being that an eye with only "half" the parts in place would not work, therefor evolution would have never favored it and the more complex human eye we have would never have evolved.

However, the evolution of the eye has been studied extensively, and its history is more-or-less well established.  First, there were light-sensitive cells which merely indicated which way was the Sun.  A slight indentation makes a sense of direction possible.  Mucus in the pit focuses the light.  If the mucus hardens, you have a proper lens, and so on.

In fact, every stage of the eye's development is still around on Earth today.  A snail's eye is less than "half" a human eye, yet it serves the snail well enough to help its survival.

Please watch this video which beautifully describes the evolution of the eye for a more visual example.


Darwin was very proud of his scientific discoveries, and it is highly unlikely he would have recanted them. There is no supporting evidence for this story, and Darwin's daughter, who was at her father's deathbed, refutes it. But even if it were true, it would not matter. Biological evolution has been experimentally proven many times over. The worth of a theory is measured by how well it is supported by the facts, not by who believes it.


No. According to Newsweek magazine, 99.85% of American earth and life scientists accept biological evolution as a fact. Gallup polls also show that 95% of all scientists accept evolution, though it should be noted that this figure includes scientists who study in unrelated fields, like Computer Science, Engineering, etc. The vast majority of scientists accept evolution as fact.


Radiocarbon dating is just one of many "radiometric" dating techniques. While contamination in the laboratory might happen on rare occasions, radiometric dating remains a trusted and reliable method of determining the age of a sample. The technique relies on the constant rate of decay of certain radioactive elements in the sample. For example, rubidium-strontium dating relies on the decay of rubidium-87 to strontium-87. Rubidium-87 has a half-life of 50 million years (the amount of time for half its mass to decay into strontium). Using this figure, scientists measure the amount of rubidium and strontium in a sample to determine its age.


The second law states that "In a closed system (one in which energy cannot enter), Entropy will not decrease." Since Entropy often refers to disorder, this law is often taken to mean that order cannot arise from disorder. How then would life, which is highly ordered, form naturally? The answer, simply, is that life is not a closed system. Energy is constantly being added to the Earth from the Sun, which fuels the plants, which in turn fuel other life. This is how plants, for example, can have more energy than the seeds they originally sprouted from. But life is not the only example of order from disorder. Snowflakes, crystals, lightning, and sand dunes are all examples of non-living matter organizing into complex structures.


No.  A religion is a set of beliefs based on the supernatural, which by definition is untestable and impossible to disprove (or "unfalsifiable").  Faith, in the religious sense, can be stated as "belief without evidence."  No aspect of science works this way, including the Theory of Evolution.  All scientific theories have been scrutinized through years of experimentation, and can all be falsifiable.  For example, the Theory of Gravity can be proven false if a scientist can devise an experiment where two bodies did not attract each other.  Likewise, the Theory of Evolution could be proven false if a scientist ever documents the evolution of a new adaptation to an organism which did not in any way benefit the organism's ability to survive, reproduce, or ensure the survival of its species as a whole.

While scientists may place faith in a scientific theory, their faith is based on past evidence.  For example, all scientists have faith that the Law of Thermodynamics will hold true during an experiment because there is overwhelming past evidence to support this belief.  This is completely different than placing faith in a religious belief, which has no supporting evidence at all.


This argument comes from a paper published in 1979 by astronomer John Eddy. After studying observations from 1836 through the 20th century, he found the sun had contracted 2 arc seconds. He had found proof of what atronomers had suspected and know for a fact today: that the sun's diameter oscillates in an 80 year cycle. It does not constantly shrink.

Within the sun, and every star, there are 2 opposing forces: the intense gravity of the star, trying to crush it, and the intense heat of nuclear fusion, trying to blow it apart. As the gravitational field causes the surface to shrink ever so slightly, it builds incredible pressure inside the star, which speeds up the fusion reactions (think of a pressure cooker). The increased fusion then pushes the surface back out again, and the cycle starts over. Because the sun is truly gigantic, about 1 million times the size of Earth, this cycle plays out on what we would consider a slow scale: every 80 years.


No, this is a bit of an "old wive's tale."  Our smallest toe (or 'pinkie toe' as some call it) is here to stay.  This is because organisms don't just lose traits or appendages simply because they aren't useful anymore.  There would need to be a threat to our survival or reproduction, directly caused by us having our smallest toe.  In that scenario, individuals born with smaller pinkie toes would have an advantage over those with longer ones.  Over many generations, this would cause pinkie toes to get smaller and smaller, until gone.

This is how whales lost their small hind legs, for example.  A more streamlined whale swims faster, and so evades predators and catches food faster.  This drove their legs to get smaller and smaller until they virtually vanished (though in skeletons you can still see their pelvises).  However, there are no pressures like this involving our pinkie toes.

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