General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Why are some people under the impression there is scientific evidence against evolution?

Asked by mattbrowne (31557points) May 7th, 2009

There is no scientific evidence against nucleosynthesis occurring in the center of stars, or is there? We can’t look into the center directly to observe what’s going on. We can’t go back in time to meet Lucy. But she was real and she was a relative or ancestor of modern humans. Today we can even use comparative genomics to figure out the tree of life.

What is your opinion? Do you have evidence against evolution? Or have you heard of (common) non-religious arguments against evolution?

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71 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Because they don’t understand science

cookieman's avatar

Either what @Simone_De_Beauvoir said or they’re afraid that if they take the time to try and understand science, it may make them questions the religious beliefs they’ve had since they were children (which, of course, were passed down from parents and grandparents and so on).

fear of change + family tradition + guilt = belief in whatever they are told that upholds the status quo.

Fyrius's avatar

Creationist propaganda spreading unjustified doubt, confusing misinformation and deliberate lies.

spresto's avatar

I am intrigued by this subject. I have listened to many arguments and debates from many scientists on it. I have heard and seen bias on both sides. Its hard to make sense of science if social issues get in the way.

Fyrius's avatar

If you’re confused, I would advise you to look for Creationist research within the actual scientific community. Look for anything supporting creationism (or its more recent moniker “intelligent design”) in research publications in biology magazines.

Spoiler: You won’t find anything. “Creation scientists” do not exist.
There is no debate any more. The last time Creationism was a scientifically tenable world view was a little over 150 years ago.

And it’s not just because evolution theory is supported by an immense body of evidence while Creationism has nothing to go for it, but also because Creationism is a complete dead end. It’s tantamount to throwing your hands up and crying “this is too difficult, let’s just give up and say god did it.” It offers no research prospects, it has no applications, it leads nowhere.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

proof of evolution. Viruses. namely AIDS… why haven’t we found a cure yet? oh yeah, because it keeps evolving

spresto's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 A creationist might argue that it is evolveing, but not into a new species. It is still AIDS.

spresto's avatar

As Richard Dawkins once said, The greatest gift he would ever give to a child is skepticism.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

This sort of touches on a question I was going to ask earlier. The theists like to say “God so love the world, he gave us his only begotten son.” I would assume that God so loved the world that he gave us bacteria.

Bacteria is everywhere, in our guts, in the ground, doing the jobs that no other creature is capable of. Bacteria lives in places that no human could survive, i.e. under polar ice, at the bottom of the ocean in the volcanic vents, even inside rocks. Bacteria can do great good, like helping to decompose dead matter and the food we eat, and yet, it can do great harm, like cause illnesses that can easily kill us. Bacteria is everywhere, it is pretty much invisible to the naked eye, and yet without it, life itself would be impossible.

Maybe the theists should change that verse to bacteria from begotten son.

But then, what is romantic and inspiring about bacteria? Nothing if you don’t understand science and biology. Those who choose to disregard evolution as fact are simply kidding themselves, and probably have an agenda to get ID taught in public schools. That’s my view of it anyway.

seekingwolf's avatar

@Fyrius is totally right!

A while ago, I discovered a Christian comic for kids that was trying to teach them how evolution was wrong.

(to see the comic, go to and click “Evolution” under the “Hot Comics” section)

It seems that a lot of Creationists will a) twist stats to support their claim b) twist the words of real scientists to make them sound bad/stupid c) flat out lie d) appeal to the emotional side of people “How could all of these beautiful flowers just be made out of RANDOM?!”

The truth is, they are compensating for the lack of science and evidence for their argument, and they aren’t doing a very good job.

spresto's avatar

As I said before, there is bias on both sides of this argument.

seekingwolf's avatar


That’s a pretty good example!

It proves that Darwin’s theory of “Survivial of the Fittest”. The virus mutates to continue the infection and survive treatment. The a new, fitter strain of the virus is created and will survive since it is more able to. The cycle continues.

Nothing is “perfect” in the beginning, or ever for that matter. We are made better to survive by variable gene expression and the new traits that arise.

ragingloli's avatar

Because people who have no idea about science and evolution are easily impressed by demagogues who present them with inconsistencies in the theory, which however only appear to be inconsistencies because of their lack of understanding, and take these inconsistencies as evidence against evolution. They then refuse to research this inconsistency further, because they are either part of the sheep and are satisfied in their preconceived opinion, or they are part of the demagogues and are afraid to debunk their own criticism.
To my knowledge, the only thing that could be a valid criticism to the theory of evolution is irreducible complexity. However, not one one example of irreducible complexity exists and the most famous “example” they put forth was the bacteria’s flagellum, which was shown to not be irreducible complex at all.

Fyrius's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra: “Bacteria” is a plural. The singular would be “bacterium”. But that word is never used because nobody cares about any single bacterium.

spresto's avatar

One can also argue that the mechanism of evolution is the real question at hand.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@seekingwolf researchers have recently discovered that the virus will go into hibernation and lay low until the treatments stop, and then flare back up, hiding in places in the body that the virus-kiling drugs missed. That is one virus with a very strategic plan to continue its life cycle.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@spresto ah yeah, I nearly forgot about that side of their arguement. you know why I don’t like creationists or most religious theorists? Because they can’t prove themselves right, but duelly they know you can’t prove them wrong.

with creationists, you just keep going back and back.

“hey we discovered exactly what happened when the first life form came to be, it was a chemical process, turns out it wasn’t god all along…”

“oh yeah? well God made the chemical process happen…”

.........fuck my life…”

seekingwolf's avatar


Oh I didn’t know that! That must have been recent! Thanks for letting me know.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Fyrius, thanks for clearing up my spelling error. I doubt anyone except you or perhaps a couple of microbiologists lurking on Fluther would catch it. :-)

Fyrius's avatar

@spresto: “One can also argue that the mechanism of evolution is the real question at hand.”
There are already established to be a number of different mechanisms involved, in fact.

spresto's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 LMAO!!!!!!! How true. That is a very interesting argument.

@Fyrius I am aware of that fact.

cwilbur's avatar

Because they look at the places where there is doubt or uncertainty—gaps in the fossil record, for instance—and mistake absence of evidence for evidence of absence.

The evangelical mindset is one that operates in black and white. There is no tolerance for nuance, doubt, or uncertainty. When they encounter a worldview that includes any of those three things, they perceive it as a sign of weakness rather than as a sign of strength, and if it is a worldview contrary to their own, that is where they attack it.

By contrast, scientists are comfortable with areas where we don’t know the whole story—because those are the places they are drawn to research.

spresto's avatar

A real believer of God should probably not worry about science. Science pertains to the physical not spirituality.

Fyrius's avatar

@spresto: That’s just something religious people say because they know damn well they would get their butts kicked if science and religion were on the same ground. Meanwhile, religion quite often does make real-world assertions, and that’s where science becomes quite able to disprove it.

spresto's avatar

@Fyrius You know that is a good point. Forget what I said.

spresto's avatar

One thing that intrigues me the most about this argument is how hostile people get.

Ivan's avatar

Because they want to be.

spresto's avatar

I mean, crap. Just accept it, people aren’t ever going to agree on anything. If people did’nt argue about God and evolution they would find something else.

westy81585's avatar

I never understood why evolution couldn’t be the answer to how, not the answer to why.

If anything, they’re belittling all the work “god” had to do to make evolution happen.

spresto's avatar

@westy81585 I like that argument. Although I am sure many would argue you saying God made evolution happen. The fact is we don’t know if there is a God or not. You can huff puff about it all you want. Without faith in one thing or another nobody knows shit about how it all started.

Unless of course you are an immortal and personally witnessed the beginning.. : D

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@spresto well… if you’re bring it up… didn’t want to brag or anything but…

I was there… They used to call me Chuggs…

here’s your proof

spresto's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 That is great! You the man Chuggs.

Fyrius's avatar

@spresto: “One thing that intrigues me the most about this argument is how hostile people get.”
That’s very true. I notice how any mention of Creationism makes me rage with a fierce resolution to unmask the impostors, and by extension sometimes even switches me to militant atheist mode (against my ambitions of being gentle and peace-loving) not unlike just now.

“Without faith in one thing or another nobody knows shit about how it all started.”
As for this… technically it’s true, but that does not at all make the “two sides” anywhere near equal.

The model of evolution relies on scientific evidence and academic thinking that all stems from only one basic and quite uncontroversial assumption; that empirical investigation can tell us something about the universe. In more common language, that boils down to “just go have a look and you’ll know.”
If we may assume that to be true, everything evolution relies on is quite known. In fact, what with all the tangible results science blesses us with, I actually think this basic assumption is quite vindicated.

The joke of Creationism relies on a humongous set of assumptions; that there exists a one-of-a-kind intelligent being that is immortal and has the power to create universes, who started it all and personally put every single life form on our lump of dirt in the forms that we know them now. That’s seven assumptions already – nine on a more elementary approach – and that’s not even counting all the more specific things Creationists tend not to even bother thinking about – it’s a male being, his name is Jehovah, he’s a single parent whose god-human-hybrid son was nailed to a cross, and he wrote the bible, for starters. None of these things are known.

oratio's avatar

@spresto The very reason we get new viruses and new diseases is an aspect of evolution.

westy81585's avatar

@spresto Well ok, but believe in god or not, evolution is a given. But you need to be careful there cuz evolution by no means proves god doesn’t exist. That would be up to a person to decide what they believe (as there is no proof on that one way or the other).

So again, answer to how, not WHY (the why would be the who done it, that would be answered by you yourself, NOT evolution, which is the answer to how).

spresto's avatar

Just for record. I didn’t ask this question. I feel like you all are trying to inform me of something I am fully aware of. Don’t take this as getting defensive. I assure you I am not. Thank you all for your input. I don’t make any claims to say evolution is a fact or not. I just totally dig this subject. Call me strange, I guess. : D

RedPowerLady's avatar

Great Book: “Red Earth, White Lies”.

(now i’m outta here cuz I don’t want to get my head bit off)

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Science is all about empirical data. If the proper scientific method is being followed, there’s no judgment of the results. Just the results.

Religion attempts to read meaning into scientific data and that’s where the separation of the 2 beliefs starts.

Fyrius's avatar

(bites off RedPowerLady’s head)

spresto's avatar

Poor RedPowerLady She has no head. sniff.

Fyrius's avatar

(glues RedPowerLady’s head back on)
Sorry ‘bout that. I just can’t resist when people say stuff like that.

spresto's avatar

I hope you used crazy glue.

lankox's avatar

Ok, I’ll play. Here are some arguments against the General theory of Evolution.
1. Inability of life to come from inorganic material. Where did the first living organism come from? Where is the scientific evidence? Where is the testable, repeatable, measurable, peer reviewed evidence? No consensus in the scientific community but yet this is taught as fact.
2. Lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Every geological layer should be filled with them but they are not (according to Darwin and Gould)
3. Inability to add new genetic features. Mutations can scramble existing information and delete structures but never adds new features. Where are the examples?
4. Cambrian explosion and Burgess Shale. A sudden appearance out of nowhere of diverse marine life. Goes against the small changes over time evolution mantra.
5. Show examples of natural selection and call it evolution. Sure the AIDS virus can evolve into drug resistant form, but that does not in any way prove that a microbe can turn into a man given enough time.
6. Radiometric dating assumptions. a. 100% parent initially b. no leaching c. constant decay rate
7. Where did all the energy and matter from the big bang come from?
8. How can natural forces create something as complex as DNA?
9. If we share 98–99% similar DNA with chimps, how do you explain the vast differences in intellect, morals, creativity, etc?
10. Where did all the Laws of Physics come from?

Ivan's avatar


1. That has nothing to do with evolution. Evolution takes over after life begins.

2. We don’t expect to see a large percentage of the existing organisms in the fossil record. Fossilization is rare. That being said, our fossil record is rich with organisms which you might classify as “transitional forms.” The entire point is moot, however, considering every organism is a “transitional form.” You can’t just arbitrarily pick one organism and say “Yup, this is half way between this and this.” Evolution doesn’t work that way.

3. I never understood this argument. Mutations, in some instances, change genetic material, allowing it to express a different trait. As an example, bacteria have been shown to digest polymers which humans invented only a few decades ago. It’s arbitrary to pick one particular example, there are countless.

4. Even if it did, evolution still explains it. The Cambrian explosion represents a change from soft-tissued marine organisms to hard-shelled marine organisms.

5. Nothing proves anything. The evolution of bacteria (and to a lesser extent, viruses) showcases that natural selection can in fact lead to the change of genetic material within a population. That is evolution. The rest of the evidence, in conjunction with this, allows us to conclude that humans evolved from simpler life forms.

6. Those aren’t assumptions. Those are conclusions that have to be made before the dating process is used. By the way, you would win the Nobel prize if you could show that radioactive atoms decay at variable rates.

7. That has nothing to do with evolution.

8. This question is pointless, considering it is the entire thing evolution attempts to explain.

9. Those difference’s aren’t all that vast, actually. Besides, our DNA similarities with other primates is a known fact, not an evolutionary prediction, so you would have to explain that anyways, whether you believe in evolution or not.

10. That has nothing to do with evolution.

lankox's avatar

Thanks for the response Ivan. Here is my rebuttal.
1. Depends upon your definition of evolution. I should have begun with that. Here is the definition that I am referring to. “The idea that all living organisms have arisen from a single source, which itself came from inorganic material.”
2. Evolution does work that way. For example, marine mammals descended from land mammals (wolf to whale)
3. This is the main argument. If humans evolved from a simple organism, then there has to be a mechanism to add new genetic features and structures (hair, eyes, skin, etc) Scientist claim that mechanism is mutations. Where are the examples of a mutation adding something new. The old adage is natural selection can turn a small dog into a big dog but cannot put feathers on a dog.
4. There was nothing beneath the Burgess Shale. No soft-tissue marine organisms. Hence the name “Explosion”. Diverse life out of nowhere.
5. That conclusion is anything but scientific. That is like saying I can prove to you that I can run 100 mph by simply running. Providing evidence of change does not prove that any type of change is possible.
6. You say conclusions I say assumptions. Same thing in this case. Those conclusions are based on axioms not facts. Just because the decay rate of K-Ar has been the same over the last 100 years in no way proves that it has remain constant over the last 4 billion years. The burden of proof does not rely upon me. This is an assumption that has been made by the scientific community. I never said that it was not true, but simply an assumption.
7. True, more along the lines of intelligent designer so I’ll move along.
8. How can you say this is pointless? Does evolution teach that natural forces created DNA? If so, where is the testable, repeatable, evidence?
9. Well that is a matter of opinion. I consider them vast. I can easily explain the similarities. It is called common Creator. Homology can easily be supportive of a common Creator as well as a common ancestor. Depends on your axiom.
10. Same response as 7

Ivan's avatar

Cris, let me handle it

crisw's avatar

ok, Ivan…I was almost done -damn, can’t have any fun around here! :>)

crisw's avatar

I do reserve the right to post my response after you post yours.

Ivan's avatar

1. That isn’t an accurate definition of evolution. Evolution is defined as the change of genetic material within a species of organisms. It has nothing to do with the origin of life. We can talk about that if you wish, but don’t try to associate the origin of life with evolution in an attempt to discredit it.

2. Maybe I wasn’t clear. I meant that evolution doesn’t work by producing “transitional” forms between one species and another. It’s arbitrary to pick one particular species and claim it to be “fully formed” while calling another “transitional.”

3. Yes, new characteristics can be brought about by mutations. It’s probably not accurate to think of this as producing “new” information. Mutations simply alter the trait that an organism expresses. Here are some examples.

4. Again, maybe I wasn’t clear. Soft-tissued organisms do not fossilize as readily as hard-shelled organisms.

5. Evolution has several components. Witnessing bacterial evolution provides evidence for one of those components. No one is claiming that it proves the entire theory.

6. We do not conclude that decay rates are constant simply because they have been observed to be in our lifetimes. We conclude that decay rates are constant because of our understanding of the atom and nuclear chemistry. If you wish to show that decay rates aren’t constant, you would have to destroy our current atomic model.

8. I was merely saying that we are talking about the process which produces DNA, so you are essentially asking a question within the same question. Regardless, you are using an argument from complexity and personal incredulity. Just because you don’t understand how natural forces could form a complex molecule, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

9. How does evolution fail to explain the differences between humans and other primates?

Sorry Cris, didn’t mean to inconvenience you. Go ahead. :)

crisw's avatar

To add to Ivan’s response:

1) You can’t just make up your own definitions. “Evolution” has a specific scientific meaning- it’s the change in allele frequency in a population over time. What you describe is abiogenesis- not evolution.

2)Actually, whales are not related to wolves, but to hippos. And there are many, many cetacean transitional fossils, with more being found all the time.

3) “Where are the examples of a mutation adding something new.”
Here are just a few.

4) Huh? What do you mean “There was nothing beneath the Burgess Shale”? That makes no sense. There are fossils from before the Burgess Shale- but fewer, because invertebrates without exoskeletons don’t fossilize easily.

5) Who is talking about “any type of change”? Name a specific change that has actually occurred that you don’t think is evolutionarily possible- we’ll show you what the mechanism could have been.

6) “The burden of proof does not rely upon me. ” Of course it does, You’re the one challenging the scientific evidence.

8) There are a great many theories as to how- here’s one.

9) How does homology explain things like endogenous retroviruses? They are easily explained by evolution; they make no sense at all as part of “special creation.”

MissAusten's avatar

I think we all need to broaden our minds and visit the Creation Museum. Who knows, some of us might find it very convincing! Or at least good entertainment.

One thing I’m going to point out, because it’s the only thing I remember from that confusing semester of genetics, is that the AIDS virus isn’t evading a vaccine because it’s evolving too fast as @ABoyNamedBoobs03 suggested. The AIDS virus is a retrovirus, like the common cold, which means it replicates itself differently than viruses we can vaccinate against. That’s not to say the virus isn’t evolving/can’t evolve, of course.

@crisw and @Ivan Excellent explanations.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@crisw and Ivan, admit it, you know that evolution is a big fable and the truth is GAWD created everything. You’re just mad at the Christian GAWD for something you think he did to you as a child. Repent now before you spend eternity as Satan’s bitch.

crisw's avatar

Pshaw, we have our very own creation museum right here in San Diego County!

benjaminlevi's avatar

@crisw Have you visited the creationist museum?

I think this one looks better

westy81585's avatar

Well if you want proof of evolution you don’t need to look any further than the flu. It evolves continuously, that’s why it can effect us on a yearly basis and why we have to keep coming up with new vaccines.

Other simple examples you can find on your body would be your tail bone, your appendix, those little booger looking things in the corners of your eyes (we used to have a membrane that we could blink over our eyes like lizards), and a host of other vestigial body parts.

crisw's avatar


I have visited the one in Santee, yes.

Fyrius's avatar

On top of @Ivan and @crisw ‘s excellent explanations, there are a few additional things I feel a need to point out.

Firstly: The “Cambrian Explosion” still covers some ten million years. Even if life reached that level of diversity within this time span – which is still controversial, by the way – it’s hardly the case that the various life forms came out of the blue in the blink of an eye.
A good evolutionary explanation would be that at that point, a “key stone” mechanism became available that “unlocked” previously inaccessible niches for life to occupy. Say, multiple cell bodies.
An alternative would be that there was diverse life before, but it wouldn’t fossilise as easily. This can be explained simply by the introduction of hard skeletons.

Secondly, on point 5, on small evolution supporting large-scale evolution: a more apt comparison would be to say that I can prove to you by walking ten meters that I am able to walk ten miles, given enough time. It’s a matter of distance, not speed.
If you accept that evolution can lead to small changes, but reject that these small changes could pile up and make life as diverse as it is now, you would actually need to stipulate an additional mechanism that inhibits large scale evolution.

Thirdly, on point 9, on the differences between humans and chimps: This is not a matter of opinion at all, it’s a matter of biological facts.
As a side note, I believe humans also share some 90% of their DNA with earth worms (don’t know the exact facts, sorry). This makes more sense than it seems to if you remember that only a minor portion of our DNA actually does anything. The vast majority is completely useless.
Not that that bears on the credibility of the model of evolution in the least.

And just to annoy you, I’d like to point out some facts that make no sense from a Creationist point of view. I think you can tell we were not created by a flawless designer just by looking at your own body. Either that or he was in a really bad mood.

1. Wisdom teeth
Evolutionary explanation: Left over from a time when human were exclusively herbivore. Back then they needed extra molars to chew the tougher vegetables.
Present function: Chewing; however, the molars that are already present fulfil this function finely. And more often than not there isn’t even enough space for them in the mouth, so that they have to be surgically removed.

2. Appendix
Evolutionary explanation: Again, a vestige from our herbivorous ancestors.
Present function: None. Known to cause death by infection. Removal of the appendix averts this danger and has as of yet not been shown to affect health one bit.

3. Toe nails
Evolutionary explanation: Vestigial claws, just like hand nails.
Present function: None. Pose risk of in-grown nails, which need to be surgically cut out of the toe’s flesh.

4. Body hair
Evolutionary explanation: Vestigial fur.
Present function: None. (It’s widely considered kind of unsightly actually.)

Just a few examples. There are probably more, but I can’t think of any right now.
Now, if we were created the image of a perfect deity and not supposed to be flawed beings, why would we have all these traits? I can tell you I would have taken these out if I were Jehovah’s editor.

mattbrowne's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – You asked ‘But then, what is romantic and inspiring about bacteria?’

Here’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship: Humans and intestinal bacteria! We can’t live without them. Awe-inspiring, isn’t it?

From Wikipedia: The Human microbiome project (HMP) is a National Institutes of Health initiative with the goal of identifying and characterizing the microorganisms which are found in association with both healthy and diseased humans. It is a five-year project, best characterized as a feasibility study, and has a total budget of 115 million dollars. The ultimate goal of this and similar NIH-sponsored microbiome projects is a demonstration (or refutation) that currently poorly characterized changes in the human microbiome can be associated with human health or disease.

Important components of the Human microbiome project will be culturing-independent methods of microbial community characterization, such as metagenomics (which provides a broad genetic perspective on a single microbial community), as well as extensive whole-genome sequencing (which provides a “deep” genetic perspective on certain aspects of a given microbial community, i.e., of individual bacterial species). The latter will serve as reference genomic sequences — 600 such sequences of individual bacterial isolates are currently planned — for comparison purposes during subsequent metagenomic analysis. The microbiology of five body sites will be emphasized: oral, skin, vagina, gut, and nasal/lung.

Critter38's avatar

@fyrius Be careful with the “appendix has no use” argument. There is some evidence that it retains a function by storing useful bacteria for reinoculation of the gut after extreme pathogen infections (eg. amoebic dysentery).

Bollinger et al: ‘Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix’. Journal of Theoretical Biology (2007), doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.08.032 (in press as of 9 October 2007)

The recurrent laryngeal nerve is one of my favourite examples of how species are built using the materials of species past.

There are others here:

oratio's avatar

@Critter38 Very interesting link there. True about the appendix.

Fyrius's avatar

@Critter38: Point taken, it’s open to debate.
It doesn’t matter. With only one of my four ad-hoc examples drawn into question, my point still stands.

Interesting link, indeed. Thanks.

oratio's avatar

I read your comment again @Fyrius. These are just thoughts and I have no base for this other than my own attempts of rationalizing.

About toe-nails: I am not sure if that’s all that correct that we no longer have use of the nails. The nails protect monkeys and chimps climbing trees. Even though we use our hands in a different way in present form, we bump the tips of the toes and fingers all the time, and swollen or hurt fingertips could be devastating as our hands are crucial to us for survival. If we would not have nails I suspect we would have some other form of protecting the tips.

About body hair: I agree that we have no direct use of it, but in nature one thing often have several functions. I suspect that the pubic hair has a scent and sweat function. As sweat itself do not smell, but because of bacteria, the surface for bacteria to grow is multiplied by the hair that retains sweat. In the end I suspect this might have a sexual function, as I believe our head hair has. The hair quality shows if we are healthy and has been for a longer time. I also believe it has a similar function as the lions mane and the peacocks feathers. If females that are attracted to male body hair by environment or instinct can only be speculated, I suspect the latter, but of course there are girls that like silky-smooth.

Critter38's avatar

@Fyrius Agreed, the issue was purely whether it may have a continued function. In regards to the question of design, the fact that it is highly prone to causing terminal infected blockages doesn’t exactly place it high in the ranks of the imagined God’s greatest works (7% of us will have appendicitis in our lifetime).

No worries regarding the link…a remnant gem of a find from when I used to post at Internet Infidels, back when Oolon Colluphid regularly posted there as well

Fyrius's avatar

@oratio: I’m cool with speculation, if properly recognised as such.

On nails: I’ve heard this remark often before. But at least for the toes, in order to demonstrate just how sensible I believe this is, I invite you to take a look at your own toes. Particularly the smaller ones. And in particular, look at the size of the nails, and how much of the toe they cover.
Just how much protection do some twelve square milimetres of keratin offer? What are the odds that something dropping on a foot would hit exactly that one minuscule area that happens to be covered and nothing else?
And why would they be on top? If I could choose, I’d cover the sole in nail as a shield to all sorts of sharp stuff I could step on. Surely the downside of a foot is at much greater risk of damage from sharp objects than the upside.

Of course, our fingernails do still have some functions, but they’re mostly the kind of functions of something that’s there anyway and might as well be put to use. Like picking stuff from between your teeth, scratching lottery tickets, opening pocket knives, that sort of thing.

The biological explanation of our nails is that the more convincing ones our ancestors were equipped with could be used as a weapon for hunting.

On hair: I tend to agree that those patches of hair that are left to us in any serious quantity probably serve some function that keeps them from going the same way as the rest of our ancestors’ fur. The hair I had in mind, however, was the kind of hair that you find everywhere else. I for one have some on my arms and legs. Tiny hairs, too small and spread too widely apart to retain body heat like proper fur.
I suppose there are probably some women that are attracted to men in fur, maybe even innately. What becomes harder to picture would be men who are attracted to hairy women. Although this is of course complicated by cultural ideas as to what makes women purdy.
I happen know for a fact that there do exist people who particularly like hairy girls, but I highly doubt this fetish is common enough to justify this as a function of female body hair.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

nails aren’t just for protection. I’ll give you an example. in vietnam north vietnamese troops would often take off the finger nails of american and SV PoWs, then give them a pencil and paper to write home to their families. They did it as a joke because the nails on the end of your fingers help you keep a grip on smaller objects, and without them, along with the pain, makes it impossible to write. They do still have a purpose.

arm and leg hair… doesn’t have a purpose, that’s why we have significantly less than our cave dwelling for bearers. evolutions doesn’t happen all at once… 100 years from now, people will most likely have less hair than they do now, it’s a gradual thing.

fireside's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 – nice explanation of nails as fleshy bookends!

Fyrius's avatar

On fingernails: Interesting (if horrid) anecdote, but I wouldn’t take it as evidence that nails serve the purpose of holding pencils. Surely if we wouldn’t have nails, we would have invented different writing utensils. Pencils are adapted to human hands, not the other way around.

On hair: Yes, that was my impression too.
Though I’d be careful with saying it will probably go away altogether in time. Evolution doesn’t just happen, it’s driven by selection.
Our fur minimised to this useless kind probably because real fur kept us too warm, and people would die of the heat. But at this point, it’s hard to imagine less body hair having a significant impact on reproduction; the men of our time may generally go for mostly hairless women, but with the invention of waxing and shaving and whatnot, natural selection has lost its grip on us in that regard.
As a side note, in terms of evolution, 100 years is like the blink of an eye. Make it 10 000 and you might see a difference.

oratio's avatar

@Fyrius Fur don’t only retain body heat, it shields as well. Camels are plenty furry.
True that, about evolution. We are no different really than a when we came to europe. Though as mentioned, it has sped up. Who know what will happen. We don’t really know exactly how the dna fully works yet. There has been shown that environmental factors affect how the same dna expresses itself in offspring.

Fyrius's avatar

On fur: Now that you mention it… But what does it shield one from, exactly? Harmful sun rays?

Evolution has sped up? Who mentioned this? I think it could well be argued that it’s slowed down for us, actually.

We do know how DNA works in quite some detail; how it reproduces, how it directs the production of proteins that form the body’s cells, et cetera. We don’t know what every stretch of DNA does yet, but that’s a different matter.

On environmental factors affecting how DNA expresses itself:
I know it’s been shown that the genetic environment can affect how one stretch of DNA works; when combined with a certain other stretch of DNA, it can have effects it would otherwise not have. But I don’t think that’s what you meant.
I’m curious how environmental factors on any other level could affect how DNA expresses itself. Got a link?

oratio's avatar

Oh sorry, that was another thread that was mentioned. Yes, it is very interesting. It’s called epigenetics apparently. NOVA They made an interesting docu called “The ghost in your genes”. I am sure you can find a torrent somewhere if you are interested.

Fur both keeps warmth and shields from heat. Isolation from heat radiation. And as you said harmful radiation.

Yes, evolution “they” say has sped up. Since we are so many we have a growing variation in our human genome.

I would like to continue discussing this. you have good arguments, but I must go and pick up a person who I made a gene dump with.

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