- Common Designer
This demonstrates a common Designer, not a common ancestor. The clear, organized arrangement of living things into groups and sub-groups is evidence for intentional forethought. For instance, man-made vehicles are obviously intelligently designed, and yet we can organize them into a clear tree structure, with groups inside groups. For instance, we have the main groups: airplanes, buses, trains, ships, and automobiles. Inside of automobiles we have cars, trucks, minivans, SUVs, jeeps, etc.
- Similar Features in “Unrelated” Animals
There are many, many similarities between animals that cannot be explained by a common ancestor (this is called convergence). For instance, the octopus has an eye much like a human, but they are so distantly related according to evolutionists that they must say this type of eye evolved twice independently. There are many more examples like this. If animals can independently evolve features that are so similar, how do we know that all vertebrates with backbones descended from the same ancestor? Couldn’t two lineages have independently evolved a backbone? You see, the whole argument for evolution from the tree structure falls apart.
- Lost Features
Evolution must commonly explain why animals lost certain features. For instance, looking at their evolutionary tree, they must say that humans lost a good sense of smell, or that cave fish lost the ability to see. There are many other examples like this, too. If animals can lose traits so easily, or even change them (e.g., scales to feathers), then why hasn’t a single vertebrate (fish, bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian) lost the backbone for an alternative design, or switched designs? The same goes for all other classifications.
- Conflicting or Confusing Tree
Evolutionists try to make it sound like developing the ancestor-descendent tree is easy, but it’s not. Reputable scientists disagree about which animals evolved into which animals often. 3 4 5 6
Here are some other “nested structures” that have nothing to do with evolution:
- Man-made transportation vehicles
Airplanes, trains, boats, automobiles. Under automobiles: trucks, minivans, SUVs, jeeps, cars, etc.
- Areas of Study
Natural science, humanities, social science, formal science, applied science. Under natural science: astronomy, geology, chemistry, physics, hydrology, etc.
Evolutionist: Many manmade things can be categorized hierarchically, but not in a “natural” hierarchy. For instance, there are many ways that we could organize manmade stamps. 7
Response: This is true of some manmade objects, but not all (see examples provided). Typically, the more things were designed “on a whim” (like stamps), the less they fall into a natural classification, and the more things were designed with a specific purpose, the more they fall into a “natural” hierarchy.
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Coyne, J. A. (2009). Why Evolution Is True. New York: Viking.
Meyer, S. C. (2013). Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life And the Case for Intelligent Design. New York: HarperOne.
Palmer, D. (2011). Earth in 100 Groundbreaking Discoveries. Buffalo, N.Y.: Firefly Books.
- Coyne, 2009, p. 8-9: “Let’s examine one evolutionary tree, that of vertebrates. On this tree I’ve put some of the features that biologists use to deduce evolutionary relationships. For a start, fish, amphibians, mammals, and reptiles all have a backbone–they are ‘vertebrates’–so they must have descended from a common ancestor that also had vertebrae. But within vertebrates, reptiles and mammals are united (and distinguished from fish and amphibians) by having an ‘amniotic egg’–the embryo surrounding by a fluid-filled membrane called the amnion. So reptiles and mammals must have had a more recent common ancestor that itself possessed such an egg. But this group also contains two subgroups, one with species that all have hair, are warm-blooded, and produce milk (that is, mammals), and another with species that are cold-blooded, scaly, and produce watertight eggs (that is, reptiles). Like all species, these form a nested hierarchy: a hierarchy in which big groups of species whose members share a few traits are subdivided into smaller groups of species sharing more traits, and so on down to species, like black bears and grizzly bears, that share nearly all their traits.” ↩
- Meyer, 2013, p. 114: “For many biologists, the iconic image of Darwin’s tree of life represents perhaps the single best distillation of what the science of evolutionary biology has to teach…” ↩
- Palmer, 2011, p. 118: “The common characteristics and hierarchy of categories in the Linnaean scheme proved very useful to evolutionists, but the definition of the categories depended very much on which characters were deemed more or less significant — a matter of opinion that could vary from expert to expert. Nevertheless, the system was refined and elaborated, introducing many more subdivisions as closer relationships between groups of organisms were recognized. But at the same time, cracks began to appear in the system, revealing problems with the major divisions and their evolutionary relationships.” ↩
- Meyer, 2013, p. 31: “Nevertheless, I am aware that some paleontologists and systematists (experts in classification) today prefer “phylogenetic classification,” a method that often uses a “rank-free” classification scheme. Advocates of modern phylogenetic classification argue that the traditional classification system lacks objective criteria by which to decide whether a certain group of organisms should be assigned a particular rank of, for example, phylum or class or order. Proponents of rank-free classification attempt to eliminate subjectivity in classification (and ranking) by grouping together animals that are thought, based upon studies of similar molecules in different groups, to share a common ancestor.” ↩
- Meyer, 2013, p. 117: “History happened once. And if Richard Dawkins is correct that “there is, after all, one true tree of life, the unique pattern of evolutionary branchings that actually happened,” then evolutionary history also happened once. Consequently, if we think of evolutionary trees describing the relationships of animal groups as hypotheses about an unobserved history (which is what they are), then having two or more conflicting hypotheses about only one history—the history that actually happened—means that we haven’t figured out what did happen. A widely used textbook on phylogenetic methods explains this: “The fact that there is only one true tree…provides the basis for testing alternative hypotheses. If two hypotheses are generated for the same group of species, then we can conclude that at least one of these hypotheses is false. Of course, it is possible that both are false and some other tree is true.”” ↩
- Meyer, 2013, p. 126: “In addition, just as trees based upon the analysis of different sets of similar genes or proteins often conflict, trees constructed on the basis of different developmental and anatomical characteristics often conflict.” ↩
- Coyne, 2009, p. 9: “The ‘natural’ classification is itself strong evidence for evolution.
Why? Because we don’t see such a nested arrangement if we’re trying to arrange objects that haven’t arisen by an evolutionary process of splitting and descent. Take cardboard books of matches, which I used to collect. They don’t fall into a natural classification in the same way as living species. You could, for example, sort matchbooks hierarchically beginning with size, and then by country within size, color within country, and so on. Or you could start with the type of product advertised, sorting thereafter by color and then by date. There are many ways to order them, and everyone will do it differently. There is no sorting system that all collectors agree on. This is because rather than evolving, so that each matchbook gave rise to another that is only slightly different, each design was created from scratch by human whim.” ↩