RE: Evolution: A few questions

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Sat Jun 12 2004 - 19:16:17 EDT


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> 1) Since evolution is not "conscious" how does it "know" that
> something is a benefit or a hinderance? The organism which
> experiences the change doesn't think, "Oh, wow, this <insert
> change> benefits my <insert feature> so I'm going to make
> sure I retain it!" And the process of evolution isn't isn't
> "conscious" so it doesn't consciously retain it, either. Or
> does it have to do more with the fact that the change isn't
> harmful to the organism (which would cause it to die without
> reproducing) therefore it's passed on? I imagine this is the
> case. If so, do we have any physical characteristics --
> internal or external -- that developed by chance and that
> don't serve a purpose, but aren't harmful to survival, either
> so they're retained? I imagine organisms would randomly
> develop a number of these throughout the history of life.

Evolution changes the organisms because those traits that are a
hinderence die with the death of the organism. Those that are either
neutral or helpful help the organism live. Evolution doesn't create
things that don't serve some purpose in helping the organism survive.
It takes energy and effort to maintain things that don't help.

> 2) What happens during the intermediary stages when a feature
> is evolving, but before it's fully functional? For example, I
> imagine it took an EXTREMELY long time before the wings of an
> insect or animal (which evolved from whatever they evolved
> from) were perfected and enabled them to fly. What happens
> during "however many generations" the organism exists with
> wings that were not yet functional? Wouldn't this be more
> detrimental thus causing the evolutionary process to drop the
> wings before they're useful?

Feathers appear to have evolved as a body covering. That was useful to
help keep the animals warm. But with some animals, the wings begain to
help them escape predators. I can't find the reference now but there is
a bird which uses wings to help it climb steep slopes but it isn't
flight. In that way an animal with feathers can improve their ability
to use air to propel themselves.

> 3) My last question concerns non-theistic evolution -- the
> belief/theory that there's no God, that life occurred purely
> by chance, etc: The purpose of organisms is to survive and
> reproduce -- but why? If there's no purpose for existing and
> reproducing then what difference does it make if they do so
> or not? Why do organisms, from simple celled life-forms to
> plants to animals, have an innate need to survive and
> reproduce if there's no point to it?

The existence of chance does not imply purposelessness. God is
omnipotent. He is greater than chance. It is amazing to me how many
people think that if chance exists, God doesn't. That doesn't follow.
If you look up the word 'lot' or 'cast lots' in the bible, you will see
that god used chance. Indeed the replacement apostle was chosen in this
manner. See also

Morton, G. R. and Gordon Simons, (2003). "Random Worms: Evidence of
Random and Non-random Processes in the Chromosomal Structure of Archaea,
Bacteria and Eukaryotes," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith,

> 4) Ok, one last question :p . This is another one concerning
> non-theistic evolution and has to do with design --
> specifically bodily symmetry. It's hard to understand how
> blind chance produced such a symmetrical body. Take the eyes
> for example. I followed a link from this list to
>> icles/0018.htm
> . Under the progressive creationism section
> the article briefly describes how eyes may have evolved: "[A]
> few light-sensitive cells form an eyespot, the eyespot
> becomes recessed to increase the light-gathering area and to
> allow directional sense, the opening narrows to create a
> "pin-hole camera" eye, fluid fills the space for protection,
> the fluid becomes a lens." (the comment "the eyespot becomes
> recessed to increase the light-gathering area" makes it sound
> like it's a conscious decision, but I already asked about
> this in question 1). It's hard to understand how there just
> happened to be two areas containing light sensitive cells
> that were so symmetrically and "strategically" placed on the
> head. It seems more likely that organisms would have one eye
> on the side of the face, or two or three eyes placed randomly
> on the face. Another example are ears. I imagine the ears
> evolved in the same way the eyes did -- starting with an area
> of sound-sensitive cells. Again, though, it's so hard to
> imagine that two sound sensitive cell areas on the head
> happened to be so symmetrical -- being at the same distance
> from the center of the head, the same distance from the top
> of the head, that they both evolved the exact same way, etc.
> It seems more likely that blind chance would result bodies
> being more asymmetrical and random. Can anyone comment on this?

Physics shows that to locate a source of light or sound, one needs 2
detectors connected by a line which is perpendicular to another line
which goes from the object to centerpoint of the perpendicular line.
That is physics. It ain't magic. The better one detects the location of
a predator, the more likely you are to escape. Thus, evolution would
drive the system towards symmetry. Those more symmetric would be more
likely to survive.

> Oh, finally, does anyone have testimonies online? I'd be
> interested in reading how believers dealt with and reconciled
> evolution and the Bible including the fall of man, the
> introduction of sin into the world causing the need for a
> savior, etc. Like I said above, I'm skeptical of evolution,
> but I do allow for the possibility of it so I want to hear
> some thoughts from Christian evolutionists.
Received on Sat Jun 12 19:40:47 2004

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