General Question

thegodfather's avatar

Are there any genetics experiments that prove evolution?

Asked by thegodfather (750points) November 24th, 2008
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25 Answers

syz's avatar

If you Google “maternal mitochondria”, you’ll find study after study after study.

bodyhead's avatar

You’re looking at it backwards. There is no disputing what happens in nature over time. Evolution is just the label that science puts a very provable phenomena.

(Actually, I say there’s no disputing it but people still do. The bible says the world is flat and some people still believe that.)

thegodfather's avatar

I’m not disputing anything. I agree with evolutionary theory and tried to find some good sources out there but was unable to, and thought I’d tap the collective for some leads :)

bodyhead's avatar

I actually didn’t mean for that to sound as confrontational as it did.

The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin is a great one. You have to know a bit about biology to understand it all. It’s a tough read. I’ve never made it all the way through it myself.

Richard Dawkins also has chapters in some of his books about Darwin and evolution specifically but he’s extremely confrontational and unapologetic atheist. (Specifically the God Delusion – I enjoy it but I were a religious person, I would not.)

These are probably two obvious answers if you follow evolution but if you want to also look into what might happen in the future you might want to look at The Singularity is Near.

dynamicduo's avatar

I am trying really hard to find my source but I can’t remember it at the time. I read an article about scientists who used rapid-generation bacteria (those who have a complete life cycle in days compared to decades for us) to try and demonstrate evolution by random chance mutation. They were successful, and thanks to saving small amounts of each generation, were able to track the one mutation back to where it started. Here is one article describing a similar experiment though I’m not sure if it’s the exact one I’m thinking of. As bodyhead mentions, Richard Dawkins goes into detail about random mutation being identifiable as the “creator” of even very complex organisms such as our eyes, so in my mind these bacteria tests do support the base theory of how we’ve come to exist.

shilolo's avatar

This question gets the scientific method backwards. You don’t prove a theory. You try really, really, really hard to disprove it, until there are no other explanations for the observed phenomena other than the theory.

Zuma's avatar

Are there any genetics experiments that prove evolution?

No, but there are computer simulations which demonstrate the principle. There is some controversy among mathematicians as to whether computational proofs count as mathematical proofs (most currently don’t accept them, but that may have to change as we move into the realm of parallel quantum computing), nonetheless, this is one place to look.

Also, biologists no longer regard natural selection as the only engine of evolution. Nor do they view the direction of evolution (from simplicity to complexity) as necessarily fixed. There is also the poorly understood realm of meta-genetics, which would tend to confound any such experiment using existing organisms. Keep in mind that there was a whole RNA biology before there was DNA.

The link above is one of the most important books I have read in the past 20 years insofar as it shows how evolution applies to the world of the made as well as the born. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, and parallel computing all share a common mathematics, which seems to be at the core of life itself.

I’m afraid this new work leaves theological explanations in the dust.

thegodfather's avatar


I agree. But how else could I have framed the question to get these kinds of studies that I’m looking for?

laureth's avatar

Due to egregious use of antibacterial-everything (which kills almost all of a certain bug, ya know), we’re evolving resistant bacteria. Survival of the fittest, and it’s an experiment happening in (possibly) your own kitchen.

Lots of experiments with fruit flies show how they evolve certain traits, too.

critter1982's avatar

What types of evolution we referring to; Planetary evolution, abiogenesis, or biological evolution?

mcsweeney's avatar

ok first of all raelian scientists have all ready discovered a gene called p53 that stops evolution… this gene may not be present in this bactiera, but if it is present in humans then evolution is out of the question… The big bang is anouther theory but like some one said earlier… to prove a theory you must eliminate all other possibilities first.. and if you look at what els could of happened you could never elimnate them all leaving you too see a multiple of theorys that could all be right or wrong….

don’t worry alot of these theorys are coming to there end…

now i know your question is are there any experiments, but with experiments into the unkown we really do not know all the indpendent variables so we cannot account for all the factors right now leaving our experiments to find the results we want them to find most of the time…...

shilolo's avatar

@mcsweeney. Interesting answer. p53 has been known about for a long time. It is one of many tumor suppressing genes that (in a nutshell), prevent the uncontrolled growth of cells. p53 (and its cousins) do not stop evolution (as you put it). The gene is actually not found in bacteria, but rather, in eukaryotic organisms (like humans, and our other close relatives, like chimps and mice). So, in summary, evolution is not “out of the question”. Feel free to cite any of your ramblings and I will gladly review them.

Oh, and who are these so-called Raelian scientists? I would love to learn about them, as a full-time scientist myself.

mcsweeney's avatar

well the Raelian are a group of people, who follow a man Named Rael.. when people first see it, its the craziest thing to them but the world we are living today is crazzy to our parents parents which really are not that old… so i believe most of the scientific advancement are yet to come. which is why this religion cought my interest..
here is a link to there website where a video of the messege is at.. click the link and go to the Raelian messege video if your interested in far out there yet seemingly real religion..

shilolo's avatar

Oh, yeah, and one more thing. p53 itself can become mutated. When inherited as a mutation, it leads to Li-Fraumeni syndrome. When the mutation occurs after birth, it leads to cancer (50% of all cancers have p53 mutations). So, the Raelian theory of p53 as an anti-evolution protein is defunct.

mcsweeney's avatar

well unless you have seen p53 mutate then there is really no way of saying that it does.. that for sure but really raelians are concidered by lots a cult…

but what we cannot undstand or even really get a grasp on yet is quantum mechanics, and sense we cannot predict the results of quantum mechanics we can really not say we undertsand it… we have to fist solve the smallest of things before we even move on to being able to say what it really does…
We don’t even know if waves exsist in quantum mechanics its still an on going debate

dynamicduo's avatar

well unless you have seen p53 mutate then there is really no way of saying that it does…

I’m sorry, what again is your credibility in genetics? Are you a scientist who has seen p53 mutate? Likely not. So I highly doubt your knowledge of p53 is scientifically sound. And I’m not really sure where all this quantum mechanics talk came from, but yeah there’s a lot we don’t know about how the laws of the universe work. That’s why Science exists and is so popular – the fundamental basis of science is in many people doing the same experiment and sharing their knowledge to reach a probable conclusion, then re-evaluating if more evidence is found later. It is a logical, relatively bias-free method of figuring out and explaining how the world works.

Regarding you talks about Rael and Raelians… whatever spiritual group you wish to belong a part of is your choice and matter and I have no quarrel with this. But realize that it’s not a good strategy to advance discussion of scientic matters such as evolution, to bring them, or any religion, into discussions and present them and their findings as being on par or above science. This is not to say that one’s faith can’t influence what one believes. It’s simply that everyone has their own faith and believes it to be true, so your faith-based evidence is not as pertinent as bias-free science. YES, there has been biased science in the past and there is probably some small amount today. But it is nowhere near the type nor inconsistencies of bias seen in many types of religious material.

critter1982's avatar

“At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the textbooks don’t usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position.”

@dynamicduo: It’s funny you put that last segment in small letters because there is more truth IMO to what you said than you believe there to be. The above is a quote from Boyce Rensberger which happens to be an anti-creationist science writer. I believe there to be a lot validity in his argument. People in general don’t want to be wrong especially scientists. A lot of times scientists will base their analyses and tests around what they feel to be true. Many times during the process assumptions need to be made and they are typically made by the scientist who came up with the hunch in the first place. This leads to non objectivity in their work.

I am not a scientist, but like a scientist I have done tons of analyses throughout my career as an engineer. One thing I have learned is that if you want to prove something through an analysis many times you need to utilize a second, third, fourth, or even fifth hand, one with objectivity and NO connection with the product or idea, in order to obtain good and impartial results.

In my opinion there is a test out there that will prove or prove with a highly statistical probability anything anybody could ever imagine. It is objectivity, impartiality, and bad assumptions that tends to lead science down the wrong path most of the time.

@thegodfather: You never answered my first question? I think this discussion could drastically go in a different direction based on what exactly you are referring to?

dynamicduo's avatar

What a great comment critter1982 and a very important point to make indeed. I believe more in the principles of science, the never ending quest for knowledge, the repetition of the same experiment by different people throughout time, more than I believe in any one result that science finds. I think it’s great that people are willing to take a random guess and work towards proving that guess right or wrong, rather than to be fed stories about how the world works and simply accept it without questioning. Even if one scientist’s results are biased, thousands of scientists doing their own tests and drawing their own conclusions often paints a pretty complete picture of the situation.

shilolo's avatar

@dynamicduo. There is no point in arguing with the uneducated and uninformed. They tend to set requirements that are untenable (like, you have to see a mutation, because seeing is believing). Because they don’t understand scientific methods, describing things like DNA sequencing, polymorphism analysis, medical genetics, etc. will fall on deaf ears. I suggest you save your excellent answers for other threads.

syz's avatar

I have to agree with shilolo, some things are just pointless.

dynamicduo's avatar

:) Thanks for your kind words shilolo and syz. I know there’s rarely a point in arguing with the uninformed, but I have hope that even one person, maybe years in the future, reading over this discussion may see my comment, and it could spark the birth of a rational mind from a chaotic one. I probably won’t bother as time goes on though.

thegodfather's avatar


Well, I’m mainly interested in organic evolution, but any other scientific studies that relate to other ideas of evolution are also helpful. So I’m all ears.

Zuma's avatar


What do you mean “organic evolution”?

LostInParadise's avatar

If by proof you mean catching a species in the process of evolving into a different species, the answer would have to be no.

However, evolution is a tool that is used by scientists. Over and over again they make predictions based on it and see these predictions confirmed. So far there has not been any alternative explanation for the successes of evolutionary theory, so until something better comes along, scientists are going to stick with it.

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