Deflating Dobzhansky’s Grand Assumption, or Why Microevolution Does Not Lead To Macroevolution

 
 
 
 
 
 
21 Votes

Theodosius Dobzhansky on Equating Microevolution and Macroevolution

Recently, someone commented on a post on the CreationLetter.com site, So Much Depends On Evolution?:
“Micro and macro as the same thing at either end of a timescale, you cant just believe in 1 or the other, only both, otherwise creationists should pick a different name for it.
These 2 words only come up when talking to creationists, never have i heard them in a lecture hall.
People that understand ”micro” but not ”macro” are either so differing in world view (YEC etc) or a bit dim, narrow minded and sheltered.”
So he had 3 basic objections:
  1. That macroevolution and microevolution are just evolution set to the tempo of different timescales
  2. That the macro-/microevolutionary distiction only comes up when talking to Creationists, not in lecture halls
  3. That people who accept microevolution but not macroevolution are either Young Earth Creationists [well, duh], dim, narrow-minded or sheltered.
Before I answer his objections, let me define a few terms for you. Macroevolution is the sort of vertical [phyletic] microbes-to-man change in which one kind of animal is said to change into another [viz. dinosaurs to birds]. Microevolution, a term used by Leavitt in 1909 describing developmental biology, was misappropriated and equated with Natural Selection and Speciation and then erroneously decreed as being Darwinian macroevolution on a small scale as early as 1927. That’s the rub really: evos claim that micro [small] changes eventually accumulate and bring about macro [big] changes.

Biblical Creationists on the other hand affirm observable Natural Selection and Speciation, but we object that neither in geology [the fossil record] nor in extant biology do we actually observe vertical fish-to-philosopher macroevolution.

In 1937 Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the architects of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis [the sort of evolution that's current taught in textbooks], wrote in Genetics and the Origin of Species:
“There is no way toward an understanding of the mechanism of macroevolutionary changes, which require time on a geological scale, other than through a full comprehension of the microevolutionary processes observable within the human lifetime. For this reason we are compelled at the present level of knowledge reluctantly to put a sign of equality between the mechanisms of micro- and macroevolution, and proceeding on this assumption, to push our investigations as far ahead as this working hypothesis will permit.” [emphasis mine]
I’m certainly aware that Gary Hurd testified that the micro/macro distinction was a Creationist fabrication, which is why we’ve named this fallacious argument Hurd’s Turd in his “honor.” Note that this takes care of the commenter’s 2nd objection. If he hasn’t heard the macro/micro distinction in his lecture halls, well, I could make a suggestion about the selective presentation of evidence. I believe the term is “sheltered.”

Back to the quote. Note that Dobzhansky had to make an assumption that small changes could account for big changes. Why? Because he couldn’t observe them. Because such changes allegedly took place over long periods of time that were, well, prohibitive to say the least. So he had to make an assumption.

But aren’t we just dodging the issue. Surely small changes do accumulate into big ones given enough time. It’s simply logic, right? Well, no, because what we actually OBSERVE is far different from the claims of evolutionists. We see animals change over time, but there are limits to that change. For example, bacteria may mutate to resist a vaccine but it remains bacteria. A finch or woodpecker might change beak sizes in dry/wet seasons, but they remain finches and woodpeckers respectively.

Furthermore, we note that the information [genetic potential] was already there encoded in the animal's DNA. No new information was added. All change is horizontal not vertical as would be necessitated by macroevolution’s claims. The deck was simply shuffled. Furthermore, we note that if there is a change in the amount of genetic variability, there is a decidely downward trend. For example, one could theoretically breed a poodle from a wolf [eventually], but you could never breed a wolf from a poodle [the latter of which is afflicted with so many genetic disorders as to make my point further evident].

Gregor Mendel on the Limits of Genetic Plasticity

You see, Creationists OBSERVE and therefore affirm horizontal changes via natural selection and speciation. Like Mendel [the Father of Genetics] we observe that kinds of animals have great genetic variability but also fixed limits [There is a fixity to phenotypic plasticity that the evolutionist does not admit to], so that we observe that a dog is still a dog and recognizably so, be it a wolf, English bulldog or a weiner dog. Ironically, the late Stephen Jay Gould noted that:
The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed. (Stephen J. Gould, “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, May 1977, p. 14)
Now let’s examine that quote a little more closely:
The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism [gradualism: ie., mainstream evolution as taught in our public school textbooks]:
1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. [A dog is still a dog and recognizeably so, be it a wolf, English bulldog or a weiner dog.] 
2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors [and keep in mind that a species arising "gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors" is pretty much a textbook definition of the sort of evolution our textbooks teach. But instead of OBSERVING what's taught in textbooks in the fossil record we see instead that]; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.'
Now does that sound more like vertical [phyletic] goo-to-you-by-way-of-the-zoo evolution or does it sound more like the concept of horizontal variation within created kinds via natural selection and speciation [the sort of thing we actually OBSERVE in extant biology]?

So to answer the commenter’s 1st and 3rd objections, we note that the macro-/microevolution distiction is decidely NOT one of mere timescale. Vertical goo-to-you macroevolution would require [not simply large amounts of time] increases of orders of genetic information and this is something we simply do not OBSERVE in proposed “microevolution,” aka observable natural selection and speciation which only result in horizontal changes at best and a downward trend in plasticity overall. At the risk of redundancy, I must stress that this is the exact opposite of the macroevolution claim and that Dobzhansky’s assumption has proven unjustified. It’s like saying we can make a billion dollars out of ten dollars by shuffling the pile around a bit. Worse! It’s like saying we can make a billion dollars out of ten by shuffling the pile and taking away a dollar at random intervals!
So to conclude:
  1. The Macro-/Microevolution distiction isn’t just a matter of timescale. The vertical [phyletic] microbes-to-man changes claims of macroevolution require increases of orders of new genetic information which are not evident in the proposed mechanisms of microevolution; instead natural selection and speciation are observed to simply shuffle existing information and a trending net loss of genetic plasticity. Microevolutionary changes are horizontal not vertical and thus cannot accumulate to account for macroevolutionary assumptions.
  2. The micro-/macroevolution distinction is not simply a Creationist fabrication. If the commenter hasn’t heard it mentioned from his lecture halls he would be well within his rights to demand why not.
  3. People who do not accept macroevolution but do accept microevolution are not dim, but rather better informed; no more narrow-minded than the fellow who demands that microevolution is macroevolution in miniature; and rather less sheltered than the faithful evolutionist students who suffer from a selective presentation of evidence in their own lecture halls. And since evolutionists like Gould do not accept that microevolutionary processes are sufficient to account for macroevolutionary assumptions either - so that he was forced to come up with puctuated equilibra [punk eek; ie., the proposal that life goes along as we observe only to be interupted by magical leaps of macroevolution that leave no trace in the fossil record] as a supplemental mechanism to microevolution to accomplish the lofty claims of vertical fish-to-philosopher macroevolution – the commenter is simply offbase when he suggests one must be a Young Earth Creationist to doubt the accumulative nature of microevolution to macroevolution. It’s not just the Young Earth Creationists who doubt it; it’s anyone who’ll honestly examine the evidence rather than holding the faith and clinging to Dobzhansky’s proposed assumption of equivication.
Think about it,
Sirius Knott

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Rev Tony Breeden

Founder, Rev Tony Breeden
Founder, Rev Tony Breeden

In addition to being the founder of Defending Genesis, Rev Tony Breeden is a Creation speaker/artist/writer/vocalist and homeschool father. He speaks on a wide variety of subjects at local churches and for various organizations. A list of his current presentations can be found HERE.

An ordained minister, he is primarily a preacher of the Gospel, using Creationism to point children and adults to Christ the Creator, Savior and Lord. He blogs under the non de plume Sirius Knott. His life verse is Ephesians 4:1.

You can find out more about why a minister who once told his wife, “I suppose God could have used evolution,” now affirms Biblical Creation and a World-wide Flood by reading these articles: