Earlier this evening a friend and I were talking about how we both had to suffer through lectures on evolution in college. It reminded me of an observation I made back in the day when I was taking Zoology 101, which I thought I would pass on to you, in case it comes in handy.
When my class began our module on evolution, the professor asked how many of us believed in the secular doctrine. Most hands went up, some didn’t. After this he made the statement that those of us who did not believe in evolution were free to our opinions, but that he would show us just how obvious and true it was.
First, he defined evolution.
Evolution: the change in allele frequency in a population over time.
For those who do not know, alleles are pieces of your genetic code that grant you specific traits. For instance, my mother has the alleles for red hair, and my father has the alleles for dark brown hair. Thus, I have an allele for red hair and an allele for dark brown hair (some of you have wondered why my beard is red when my hair is brown, now you know).
Second, he gave us examples of allele frequency changing in populations over time.
For instance, say you have a bunch of bunny rabbits in the tundra with all sorts of different alleles for hair. The frequency of allele occurrence are as follows: 30% red, 50% black, and 20% white.
Well, the polar bears like black bunnies and the arctic wolves think red bunnies go well dipped in habanero sauce (or the red and black are just easier to see than white ones against the snow, that could be too). Thus, over time, the red and black bunnies are killed at a greater rate than white bunnies. This means that there are fewer red and black bunnies to pass on their alleles to the next generation, so as the rabbits multiply the white ones begin to outnumber the others. In time, the frequency of allele occurrence in this population changes to this: 15% red, 5% black, and 80% white.
Third, he rested his case.
Clearly, in the bunny example there was a “change in allele frequency (from 20% white to 80% white), in a population (bunnies in the tundra), over time (say, 3 or 4 generations).”
Thus, we have proof of evolution!!! Evolution must be true because what happens all the time in nature (Darwin’s finches being another example) matches the definition we saw above!
And, as we have now proven evolution, and since molecules to man is evolution, molecules to man must be true!
This was my professor’s logic, and it swayed some of my classmates.
Here’s the thing, though: the argument is bogus. It commits the fallacy of equivocation.
This is when the meaning of a word is switched mid-argument to give the false appearance of logic to a syllogism.
A glaringly obvious example would be: the elephant uses his trunk to eat peanuts. A trunk is the stalk portion of a tree. Therefore, the elephant uses the stalk portion of a tree to eat peanuts.
In the example, “trunk” is first obviously the elephant’s nose. Then the meaning of “trunk” is modified to be that of a tree. The result is a faulty conclusion.
In the same way, my professor gave the class the definition of microevolution, and once he had proven microevolution, he pulled the switcheroo and insisted that he had proven molecules-to-man macroevolution. 2 different things, 2 different uses of the word “evolution”, but through using equivocation he was able to make it seem like his logic was sound.
I hope you see that proving the fact that rabbit fur color changes in a population over time does not equal proof that apes and humans share grandparents. This is a leap of logic not supported by the faulty syllogism of my college professor (who I really liked, by the way, so don’t get the wrong idea).
Special thanks to Ann for inspiring and helping with this post.