I think it's time I return to blogging after taking my somewhat late summer break, what better way to kick it off again than by answering some questions I've received over the last few weeks from some creationists.
Proofneededdesperately posting from South Africa asks:
1. How do we distinguish between right and wrong, according to evolution? Who decided murder/adultery/theft is wrong? Don't animals do it?
2. What is morality and why do we have it if the animals don't?
Actually animals don't go around murdering, committing adultery or stealing.
Firstly, theft requires private property. Private property is a fairly recent human invention. So the concept of theft doesn't really exist in the animal kingdom, simply because private property doesn't exist.
Adultery, again really a human concept, depends on how the species conducts their sexual behaviour. Some species of animals take a mate for life, in other species females may take many mates over the course of their lives, and vice versa. Typically an individual in a species will follow the norm of the species. If you're a bonobo you're at it pretty much all the time with anyone, same sex or not. That's simply the norm, just like it probably was for humans before women could become a man's private property, around the time of the first civilisations.
Animals also don't go around murdering other animals for no reason. Animals kill other animals, for food and in some species to expand or defend their territory; they may fight with members of their own species over resources, but rarely does this result in fatalities. But they don't just randomly murder each other, like us, randomly murdering people is the exception, not the rule.
Mammals certainly possess a level of right and wrong, or morality, whatever you want to call it. Just look at our two closest relatives alive today, chimpanzees and bonobos. They show extremely human traits in their social behaviour. Evolution obviously favours such altruistic and co-operative behaviour, at least in mammals. It makes sense as mammals take a long time to reach sexual maturity, mammal species that went around killing each other randomly would go extinct pretty quickly.
3. Where do emotions and feelings come from? Bacteria don't have them?!?!? (If they do, then we murder them everyday...lol)
Emotions and feelings come from the brain, bacteria do not have brains, nor nervous systems. Even reptiles probably have feelings such as rage and fear. Mammals which possess larger brains, have more emotions.
4. Where are the transitional fossils?
Where aren't the transitional fossils?
Nautiloidea, Bactritida, Ammonoidea, Pikaia, Conodont, Haikouichthys, Arandaspis, Birkenia, Osteolepis, Eusthenopteron, Panderichthys, Tiktaalik, Elginerpeton, Obruchevichthys, Acanthostega, Ichthyostega, Hynerpeton, Tulerpeton, Pederpes, Eryops, Proterogyrinus, Limnoscelis, Tseajaia, Solenodonsaurus, Hylonomus, Paleothyris, Protoclepsydrops, Clepsydrops, Dimetrodon, Procynosuchus, Thrinaxodon, Morganucodon, Yanoconodon, Yixianosaurus, Pedopenna, Archaeopteryx, Confuciusornis, Ichthyornis, Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, Kutchicetus, Artiocetus, Dorudon, Aetiocetus, Basilosaurus, Eurhinodelphis, Mammalodon, Hyracotherium, Mesohippus, Parahippus, Merychippus, Pliohippus, Equus, Darwinius masillae, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, Homo rudolfensis, Homo habilis, Homo erectus.
And that's just for breakfast.
5. Why would anything want to reproduce, if it would lower it's chances of survival because of competition for resources?
Species that didn't reproduce would go extinct, leaving only species that did.
6.Who evolved sexual reproduction and with who did he/she/it do it?
As there is very little direct evidence of micro-organisms from that long ago, there are several hypotheses which explore this area.
See Wikipedia for an overview, for more details check Barton and Charlesworth 1998, Davies et al. 1999, Paland and Lynch 2006 and Sá Martins 2000.
7. Why are there still single-celled organisms? Didn't they want to evolve too??
Firstly single-celled organisms do not want anything, they are not conscious, nor do they think. Secondly single-celled organisms alive today are just as evolved as we are. We've both been evolving for four billion years. We may be more complex, but not more evolved. This is the standard ladder fallacy, which pretty much all creationists make. Evolution is not a ladder progressing towards some end goal, it's a branching tree. Humans and all other life alive today is at the end of a branch.