1. Evolution happens. So what?

PBS confidently instructs us that "evolution happens." But should that matter? Even Darwin's scientific critics agree that evolution happens. PBS is introducing equivocation into the discussion by failing to clearly define "evolution."

Some use "evolution" to refer to something as simple as minor changes within individual species that occur over short periods of time (Evolution #1). Others use the same word to mean something much more far-reaching, such as claiming that all living organisms are descended from a single common ancestor (Evolution #2), or that natural selection has the power to produce all of life's complexity (Evolution #3). Used one way, "evolution" isn't controversial at all (i.e. Evolution #1); used another way, it's hotly debated (i.e. Evolution #2 or Evolution #3). Used equivocally, "evolution" is too imprecise to be useful in a scientific discussion.

When you see the word "evolution," you should ask yourself, "Which of the three definitions is being used?"

Critics of neo-Darwinism today usually take issue with Evolution #2 or Evolution #3. But the discussion gets confusing when a Darwinist takes evidence for Evolution #1 and tries to make it look like it supports Evolution #2 or Evolution #3. Proponents of Darwinism, including PBS, commonly pull this "Evolution" Bait-and-Switch, using evidence for small-scale changes, such as changes in the sizes of bird beaks (Evolution #1) and then over-extrapolating from such modest evidence to claim that it proves Darwin's grander claims (Evolution #2 or Evolution #3).
The graphic above is hot-linked from http://www.movieprop.com/tvandmovie/PlanetoftheApes/apes.jpg.
Some of the above discussion is adapted from Explore Evolution.

Introduction | Slide 1 of 14 | Next
Slide 1: Evolution happens. So what? Slide 2. Following the evidence wherever it leads. Slide 3. The role of natural selection in evolution is controversial among scientists. Slide 4. The role of natural selection in evolution is controversial among scientists. (continued) Slide 5. Opening Darwin's black box Slide 6. Darwinism: grounded in science or propped by philosophy? Slide 7. Evolving views of embryology. Slide 8. Why sexual selection? Slide 9. Saving the Tree of Life. Slide 10. The myth of 1% human-chimp genetic differences. Slide 11. Human evolution remains a mystery. Slide 12. The origin of life remains a mystery. Slide 13. The abrupt appearance of biological forms. Slide 14. What would Darwin do?

For more information on problems with PBS-NOVA's "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" documentary, please see any of the following links:

  • PBS Airs False Facts in its "Inherit the Wind" Version of the Kitzmiller Trial
  • PBS, Darwin and Dover: an Interview with Phillip Johnson [ID the Future Podcast]
  • The Theory of Intelligent Design: A Briefing Packet for Educators [B & W Version]
  • NOVA Program on Intelligent Design Biased, Not by Chance but Because They Designed It That Way
  • The Truth about the Kitzmiller v. Dover Trial
  • PBS Encouraging Teachers to Violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, Discovery Institute Reports
  • Who's on Trial? A Look at NOVA's Judgment Day [ID the Future Podcast]
  • Paula Apsell's Lessons Not Learned from the History of Science