A Reply to Ray Comforts Special Introduction to the Origin of Species (Part2)

During the period thatpaleontologists call the Cambrian Explosion, virtually all the major animal forms appeared suddenly without any trace of less complex ancestors. No newbody plans have come into existence since then. - Comfort

One wonders exactly what is meant by "major animal forms".  The highest taxonomic rank below kingdom (all animals are in the kingdom Animalia) is Phylum.  Some animal Phyla originated before the Cambrian such as Cnidarians and Sponges among others.  Many other animal Phyla did not appear until much later in the fossil record such as Onychophora.  It is suggested by some studies that only eleven out of thirty two animal phyla first appeared during this time period.  In any case the more "major form"Kingdom Plantae did not originate until after the Cambrian Explosion. Since the Cambrian this one kingdom has evolved to include more than three hundred thousand species of plants.  In addition to this the remains ofcreatures from the Cambrian Explosion such as Anomalocaris and Opabinia areclearly transitional fossils between arthropods and lobopods. 

Despite all of these "major animal forms" that came into existence during that time, all of the animals most familiar to us such as mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, etc. did not appear until much, much later. 

Within the horse family are thedonkey, zebra, draft horse, and the dwarf pony, yet all are horses. - Comfort

Many creationists and intelligent design advocates, including Ray, have finally conceded that evolution in the fact of descent with modification does occur.  But even in this admission they try to divide the admission into smaller parts in order to evade complete defeat.  One common tactic is to create an artificial division in evolution termed micro and macroevolution. Microevolution in their definition consists of small changes such as those we label as breeds of a species and their term macroevolution would consist of speciation itself.  What they attempt to hide is that the only dividing line between the two is a matter of degree.  Microevolution writ large IS macroevolution.  The only difference is time and reproductive isolation.  In modern evolutionary theory there is no such division andeven if there were, both types of evolution have been observed. 

The most common definition of species is "A group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders."  By this definition horses, zebras, and donkeys are, in fact, different species. While they can all create hybrid offspring with each other almost every single resultant offspring is born sterile and unable to reproduce.  They are all, by definition, various species of Equids, not horses. 

Fifty years of genetic researchon the fruit fly have convinced scientists that change is limited and confinedto a defined population. Despite being bombarded with mutation agents for halfa century, the mutant fruit flies continue to exist as fruit flies,... - Comfort

This is more of a confusion tactic than a truthful statement.  Biological classification of organisms is nested in a hierarchical arrangement.  Any subspecies derived from a fruit fly would still be classified as such. There are thousands of described species of "fruit flies" and new species continue to evolve.  One study discovered at least 13 species of fruitflies that were all supported by the same species of plant.           

Another surprising difficulty involves the common belief that organisms develop favorable mutations based on their environments. - Comfort

This is another attempt to confuse.  The idea of directed mutations in reaction to environmental conditions is an idea that has long been proven false in evolutionary studies.  Mutations are not directed but occur randomly and depend on the environment whether they will be beneficial or deleterious ineffect.  Once the random mutation occurs that proves beneficial to an organism in a specific environment it is selected for and quickly spreads throughout the species.  Such beneficial mutations are commonly observed and recorded by scientists.   One of the most shocking series of mutations recorded is one that has allowed a strain of Flavobacterium to flourish.  This bacterium has evolved the ability to degrade nylon byproducts, an artificial human product invented in 1935.  The enzymes, which were caused by random mutations that proved beneficial and used to digest these materials, are not effective on any natural material but only these man made nylon byproducts.  It remains a shocking example of evolution inaction and a clear indication that the arguments of creationists and ID proponents are demonstrably false. 

Or, consider the human eye. Man has never developed a camera lens anywhere near the inconceivable intricacy of the human eye. - Comfort

Actually let's take a look at the human eye.  The human eye records its evolutionary history in its imperfect "design".  It is built "backwards and upside down", requiring light to travel through the cornea, lens, aqueous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before it is able to reach the light-sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses.  The images are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns by inverting them into an upright position. 

The camera eyes of cephalopods, in contrast, are constructed the "correct way", with the nerves attached to the rear of the retina.  This means they do not have a blind spot as we do, and their vision is marginally clearer than our own.  

Any human developing a camera to work in the same manner of the vertebrate eye would soon be looking for a new vocation.  One of the other many imperfections of our eyes is the fact that our rods, the visual receptors that are sensitive to black, white, and shades of gray are crowded out of the center of our field of vision by the color detecting cones.  Due to this design we can actually see fainter levels of light not from what we are actually directing our attention to, but in the periphery of our vision. 

The eye is an example of what is referred to as "irreducible complexity." It would be statistically impossiblefor random processes, operating through gradual mechanisms of genetic mutation sand natural selection, to be able to create forty separate subsystems when they provide no advantage to the whole until the very last state of development. -Comfort

Darwin himself suggested slight gradations from "an optic nerve merely coated with pigment, and without any other mechanism" to a "moderately high stage of perfection", on how the eyecould have evolved in small steps.  His suggestions were soon proven to be accurate.  Eyes ranging from nothing more than a few photosensitive cells all the way through the gradations in complexity to the eye of the cephalopods (superior to our own eyes in many ways) all exist in animals living even unto this day.  The increments between each gradation are small and each is favored by natural selection by conferring a survival advantage, no matter how slight.  Additional evidence for the evolution of the eye is gathered from fields ranging from comparative anatomy to genetics.