The Great Evolution Debate Notes

This blog post is a quick look inside Host Chris Hanna’s mind as he prepped for the debate. I thought this would be good for those who want to read what went into our side of the debate. 

Don’t forget to check out the episode right here!

Listen to the episode right here!

Opening statement (10 mins)
Things to ask in rebuttal to Aaron’s opening
His definition of evolution: 

Science and fine tuning

Looking from the wrong direction: if you start at the solution (the theist way) then it’s amazing that life is so perfectly

Why the universe exists

Science explain morality

Science brainwashing

Evolutionists can’t explain the origin of life

Abiogenesis is not evolution

Big bang is not evolution

Preagers big bangs bull

Says we have never seen evolution

Evolutionism would be moraless and we should be animals

Evolution is not destiny, it is not fate.

-Evolution is neither moral nor immoral. It just is, and we make of it what we will. I have tried to show that two things we can make of it are that it’s simple and it’s marvelous.

Second law of Thermodynamics… Inaccurate use

Stalin and evolutionists and immorality

Immorality and murder abroad…

Why is the final size of a whale indicative of problems for its growth and for evolution.

Camel look down a giraffe and heart problem (mixed species?)

Beaver with wearable teeth?

Birds that work together to survive?

Upright tree confirms a global flood?
Chris Hanna’s Opening
So it goes… Some of you might recognize that phrasing from the late great Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5” as the allegorical end to life. Evolution is a dead theory; a claim professed wantonly, casually, and without refrain or source as our visitor told us in his last debate with Chris. Often, as Darwin so eloquently said:
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
So it goes indeed, as you have no doubt just heard; the goalposts have already been moved, the sharp and heartless lines of science cast aside for philosophical demand for absolutes. I am not here to offer you, our dear listener, any form of salvation, guarantee, or forever quiet your questioning mind. In fact I am here to do the opposite, the depth and brevity of the theory of evolution is the culmination of human kind’s short period of genuine investigative time on this earth.
From the undeniable fossil record, to the predictability of Darwin’s initial hypotheses, to the modification of evolution by gene sequencing known as neo-Darwinism, to the current Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, employing fossil transitions in palaeontology, and complex cellular mechanisms in developmental biology, and to the future in a proposed extended evolutionary synthesis, which would account for the effects of non-genetic inheritance modes, such as epigenetics, parental effects, ecological and cultural inheritance, and evolvability.
Yes, for those of you who do not know, and possibly for my opponent here, the basic foundation of Jean-Baptiste Lamarckian Inheritance, also known as soft evolution, that was given mechanical validity through Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and other notable publications, has acted as the underlying structure for further progress of the laws and predictions made by evolution resulting in the tools used by all modern biology.  
In every case of small or large modification to the theory of evolution, incorrect assumptions were replaced by verifiable, testable, and repeatable experimental data; all of this growth has further cemented its validity elevating the scientific consensus to that of fact.
The argument is as follows: the theory of gravity, the spherical earth, heliocentricity, the germ theory of disease, and the theory of relativity are all so empirically valid that even small changes are unlikely. Of course science is a probabilistic creature making absolutes all but impossible; still the likelihood of information calling into question the inherent truth to any of these foundational structures of modern science, including evolution, are so remote that the scientific community has in turn given its verdict, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are true. You really don’t think the recent spate of NBA stars professing a flat earth will really change anything do you?
So, let us first establish the skeleton before we attempt to populate the evolutionary creature with a functioning muscular system. The modern theory of evolution is as follows: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species— perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection. There are six basic tenets that make up the theory evolution, gradualism, speciation, common ancestry, natural selection, and nonselective mechanisms of evolutionary change.
The first is the idea of evolution itself. This simply means that a species undergoes genetic change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on changes in the DNA, which originate as mutations.

The second part of evolutionary theory is the idea of gradualism. It takes many generations to produce a substantial evolutionary change, such as the evolution of birds from reptiles.

The Third, that of splitting, or, more accurately, speciation.

speciation simply means the evolution of different groups that can’t interbreed — that is, groups that can’t exchange genes.

species don’t have to split. 

circumstances allow populations to evolve enough differences that they are no longer able to interbreed. 

The vast majority of species — more than 99 percent of them — go extinct without leaving any descendants.

we all share fundamental traits. Among these are the 

biochemical pathways that we use to produce energy, 

our standard four-letter DNA code, 

how that code is read and translated into proteins. 

The fourth, common ancestry; we can always look back in time, using either DNA sequences or fossils, and find descendants joining at their ancestors.

By sequencing the DNA of various species and measuring how similar these sequences are, we can reconstruct their evolutionary relationships.

This is the point where the second tier of evolution was added as mentioned earlier.

The fifth part of evolutionary theory is natural selection. 

explains apparent design in nature by a purely materialistic process that doesn’t require creation or guidance by supernatural forces.

Over time, the population will gradually become more and more suited to its environment as helpful mutations arise and spread through the population, while deleterious ones are weeded out. …It requires only that individuals of a species vary genetically in their ability to survive and reproduce in their environment.

Evolution is like an is not a master architect but more like a tinkerer who cannot design a building from scratch, but must build every new structure by adapting a preexisting building, keeping the structure habitable all the while. (13)

So natural selection does not yield perfection — only improvements over what came before. It produces fitter, not the fittest.

Richard Dawkins provided the most concise definition of natural selection: it is “the nonrandom survival of random variants.” 

The sixth processes other than natural selection can cause evolutionary change.

epigenetics, the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off

DNA from humans is made up of approximately 3 billion nucleotide bases. There are four fundamental types of bases that comprise DNA – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, commonly abbreviated as A, C, G, and T, respectively.

The sequence, or the order, of the bases is what determines our life instructions. Interestingly enough, our DNA sequence is mostly similar to that of a chimpanzee.

Within the 3 billion bases, there are about 20,000+ genes. Genes are specific sequences of bases that provide instructions on how to make important proteins – complex molecules that trigger various biological actions to carry out life functions.

parental effects a situation where the phenotype of an organism is determined not only by the environment it experiences and its genotype, but also by the environment and genotype of its mother 

ecological and cultural inheritance, the process in which an organism alters its own (or other species’) environment, often but not always in a manner that increases its chances of survival

Evolvability the capacity of a system for adaptive evolution. Evolvability is the ability of a population of organisms to not merely generate genetic diversity, but to generate adaptive genetic diversity, and thereby evolve through natural selection
Whew, take a breath, the theory of evolution is quite vast, complex, and highly driven by experts at the very extent of human knowledge and understanding. Experts, I remind you, that while aggressively critical of each other’s work since they derive status and prestige from disproving proposed theorems and papers, are in almost uniform consensus on the validity of evolution.
So what now? Evidence you say? Oh damn right my good little budding scientists. Finishing out this segment will be cases of transitional fossils, evolutionary adaptations and the mechanisms where genuine evolution has been seen in the lab, and finally realtime, in the lifetime of one human, speciation that has has occurred will show up in the Q and A segments
While we may speculate about the details, the existence of transitional fossils—and the evolution of birds from reptiles—is fact. Fossils like Archaeopteryx and its later relatives show a mixture of birdlike and early reptilian traits, and they occur at the right time in the fossil record. Scientists predicted that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, and, sure enough, we find theropod dinosaurs with feathers. We see a progression in time from early theropods having thin, filamentous body coverings to later ones with distinct feathers, probably adept gliders. What we see in bird evolution is the refashioning of old features (forelimbs with fingers and thin filaments on the skin) into new ones (fingerless wings and feathers)—just as evolutionary theory predicts.

Australopithecus afarensis, or Lucy, is a personal favorite of mine, dating back 3.2 million years. She was between twenty and thirty years old, three and a half feet tall, weighing a scant sixty pounds, and possibly afflicted with arthritis. But most important, she walked on two legs. In a bipedally walking primate like ourselves, the femurs angle in toward each other from the hips so that the center of gravity stays in one place while walking, allowing an efficient fore-and-aft bipedal stride. In knucklewalking apes, the femurs are slightly splayed out, making them bowlegged. When they try to walk upright, they waddle awkwardly. If the femurs angle toward the middle, it’s bipedal. And Lucy’s angle in—at almost the same angle as that of modern humans. She walked upright. Her pelvis too resembles that of modern humans far more than that of modern chimps. Her head was distinctly ape like with a torso that appears a mixture of the two, and with a lower section that is almost identical to modern humans.
Human transitional fossils 20 species from over 6000 individual skeletons: 

Sahelanthropus tchadensis, 

Orrorin tugenensis, 

Ardipithecus kadabba, 

Ardipithecus ramidus, 

Australopithecus anamensis,  

Kenyanthropus platyops, 

Australopithecus afarensis, 

Australopithecus garhi, 

Paranthropus aethiopicus, 

Australopithecus africanus, 

Homo rudolfensis, 

Australopithecus sediba, 

Homo habilis,

Paranthropus robustus, 

Paranthropus boisei, 

Homo heidelbergensis, 

Homo erectus, 

Homo floresiensis, 

Homo neanderthalensis, 

Homo sapiens
5 min rebuttals each.

3 min Break

7 min Aaron Questions Time

7 min Chris Question Time
Please take a moment to explain the existence of useless and often detrimental vestigial features

the recurrence of pelvic and leg bones in whales and snakes,

the wings of flightless birds, 

the human Coccyx, 

the human appendix, 

wisdom teeth that have to be surgically removed, 

the human plica semilunaris which is like the nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, of other animals, and much more.

Now explain Atavisms, or the recurrence of ancestral traits in some not all like vestigial traits.

human embryonic processes where human embryos move through almost identical phases of mimicry of a fish embryo then amphibian, reptile, mammal, primate, and finally human? 

a combination of a tail, fishlike gill arches, and a fishlike circulatory system doesn’t seem necessary for a human embryo? | …The probable answer — and it’s a good one — involves recognizing that as one species evolves into another, the descendant inherits the developmental program of its ancestor: that is all the genes that form ancestral structures

Also some human babies have been born with a coccygeal projection which is, you guessed it, a tail

Some whales have wholly developed legs projecting from their vestigial hips, and horses often have two extra toes mimicking their fossilized ancestors? 

Dont forget Lanugo, its the full coat of hair that covers a human fetus’ body and is usually shed but sometimes mommy and daddy get a hairy baby.

Please explain the difference between Micro and Macro evolution and why one is possible but not the other.

Where is the line specifically

What about Ring Species? The Greenish Warbler of northern India migrated northeast and northwest around mountains that acted as a geographic barrier, the two northern forms viridanus and plumbeitarsus are highly distinct genetically, when the two expanding fronts met in central Siberia, they were different enough that they do not interbreed. 

What about the new species of plants that we have directly seen evolve in the wild through polyploidy and allopolyploidy, synthesized in the lab to verify

How does the polyploid species form in the first place? We needn’t go into the messy details here except to say that it involves the formation of a hybrid between the two parental species followed by a series of steps in which those hybrids produce rare pollen or eggs carrying double sets of chromosomes (these are called unreduced gametes). Fusion of these gametes produces a polyploid individual in only two generations. And all of these steps have been documented in both the greenhouse and in nature.

Because of this, you might have thought that such speciation would be very rare indeed. But it isn’t. Given that a single plant can produce millions of eggs and pollen grains, an improbable event eventually becomes probable.

This new allopolyploid has since radiated into five separate, morphologically diverse species: G. mustelinum, G. darwinii, G. barbadense, G. tomentosum, and the most important global supplier of agriculturally used cotton fiber G. hirsutm

5 min Aaron Question Time

5 min Chris Question Time
Noah’s evolution party consisted of of 1,877,920 species or 3,755,840 individual animals on the ark, we need only six more pairs of each species of bird to make it come out to seven pairs. That brings our count up to a grand total of 3,858,920 animals aboard the ark—two of each species, except birds which number fourteen each.

This equates to 187 new species a year for the conservative estimate of 10,000 year old earth and 313 if the earth is only 6,000 years old.

Where are all these species and how did they get to their current locations of equilibrium now?

Where are their fossilized trails of tears, as they most certainly would have been when considering a penguin walking down Mount Ararat and heading for ice…

Do vaccines and medicine work?

Vaccinations and Medicine resistance are major issues for the future of humankind, why are some no longer as effective as they used to be?

Another prime example of selection is resistance to penicillin. When it was introduced in the early 1940s, penicillin was a miracle drug against Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”). 

In 1941, the drug could wipe out every strain of staph in the world. Now, seventy years later, more than 95 percent of staph strains are resistant to penicillin. 

After mutations made Staph stronger the drug industry came up with a new antibiotic, methicillin, but even that is now becoming useless due to newer mutations. 

In both cases, scientists have identified the precise changes in the bacterial DNA that conferred drug resistance. 

Viruses, the smallest form of evolvable life, have also evolved resistance to antiviral drugs, most notably AZT (azidothymidine), designed to prevent the HIV virus from replicating in an infected body. 

Now we keep AIDS at bay with a daily three-drug cocktail, and if history is any guide, this too will eventually stop working. The evolution of resistance creates an arms race between humans and microorganisms

But fortunately there are some spectacular cases of microorganisms that haven’t succeeded in evolving resistance. (

We must remember that the theory of evolution doesn’t predict that everything will evolve: if the right mutations can’t or don’t arise, evolution won’t happen.) 

Streptococcus, for example, causes “strep throat, ” a common infection in children. These bacteria have failed to evolve even the slightest resistance to penicillin, which remains the treatment of choice. 

unlike the influenza virus, polio and measles viruses have not evolved resistance to the vaccines that have now been used for over fifty years.
3 min break

10 min Audience Questions

6 min closing arguments -whoever is making the positive claim goes first

The modern theory of evolution is as follows: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species— perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection.  
In an exhausted conclusion I defer to you dear listener, to the evidence given tonight and included in the links of my notes available immediately after this live show is concluded, to the simplicity of evolution compared to the alarmist fears that scientific materialism will invade our humanity like the hollywood robot revolution perversions of logic against the unpredictable emotional human obsolescence. Evolution is simply a theory about the process and patterns of life’s diversification, not a grand philosophical scheme about the meaning of life. it can’t tell us what to do, or how we should behave, or what we should believe in.. And this is the big problem for many believers, who want to find in the story of our origins a reason for our existence, and a sense of how to behave. 

If you can’t think of an observation that could disprove a theory, that theory simply isn’t scientific and this is a major failing for ID and Creationism in general as the presuppositions simply assert infallible ultimatums from the onset. While the heart of “materialism” or “naturalism” suggests that, evolution is true. And, any transcendent or metaphysical explanation that imposes itself upon the scientific and natural world are de facto discounted as irrelevant and absurd. However, conversely, transcendence and metaphysics are thus free from the imposition of scientific inquiry and invalidation. Hence my allusions to the segregation from belief and evolution including its acceptance throughout the progressive segment of the theistic population.
What we have seen here is well formed argumentative skills and a general formation of a worldview that is threatened, they believe, by the last universal common ancestor and the theory of evolution. But the genuine dog and cat ignorance of species and evoleitionFortunately as I just said he is rapidly becoming a minority as the largest christian faiths are evolving to survive. Once again:
Evolution is neither moral nor immoral. It just is, and we make of it what we will. I have tried to show that two things we can make of it are that it’s simple and it’s marvelous.
But there is something even more wondrous. We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be.


Review and Notes from Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne


Nature article about Polyploids, Allopolyploids, and heredity including new synthesized species 

More Polyploidy

Noah’s ridiculous story

Human fossil ancestry database 

Shrinking Iguanas

Sea horses


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