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Seeing is believing for evolutionists

But what is it that they really observe?

Published: 9 July 2016 (GMT+10)
wikipedia.org/boomtastic fig-1
The differing manner in how skinks produce young from eggs is a stunning example of the Incredible Designer.

A supporter named Peter A., wrote asking how to answer an evolutionist’s challenge to read an article which purported to show that evolution can be observed. This person had stated, on an online forum:

“You’ve used this argument several times, that evolution is not observable. I’m not sure who told you that, but you should research it. Here’s just one very helpful link, to a list of specific examples where evolution actually can be observed (and I mean that literally, not just in that we can observe the genetic links between species, which is itself a valid point).”

The link given was to an article entitled “8 Examples of Evolution in Action”1 and included details about skink reproduction which Peter A. particularly queried.

Here is how CMI’s Philip Bell responded:

Zoologists have long recognised different modes of birth2 among otherwise related creatures:

  1. Oviparity (also called ovipary)—laying eggs; i.e. embryos develop outside mum’s body.
  2. Ovoviviparity (or ovovivipary)—embryo develops in eggs but these are retained inside mum’s body until they’re partly mature.
  3. Viviparity (vivipary)—the embryo matures inside mum, followed by a live birth.

I remember learning about these during my zoology degree in the 1980s. The advantages of the different forms of reproduction are well known and non-controversial. In fact, in the article link, they state:

“Skinks living on the coast tend to lay eggs, probably because the warm weather is predictable and sufficient for embryonic development. Those skinks living in the cooler mountains tend to give birth to live young, the mother’s body providing a more stable temperature. It is to be predicted that these two populations will at some point separate into different species as each population becomes fixed in its reproductive strategy.”

I have no problem with any of this. If an animal produces eggs, laying them almost as soon as they’re produced (No. 1, above) versus laying them later,3 allowing a certain amount of development (No. 2, above) is no big deal. This is part of the Creator’s variety and it makes perfect sense within a creationist worldview—speciation included. No new genetic information needs to be encoded in the genome to explain these different ‘strategies’ and a number of examples of creatures are known that can switch between these modes depending on conditions.4

wikipedia.org fig-2
The lizards Saiphos equalisLacerta vivipara (pictured) and Lerista bougainvillii are the only three lizard species known that have the capacity for both oviparity and viviparity.

However, there is a lot of difference between true placental viviparity (as in mammals and ourselves) and the types of live birth where the animal produces eggs (as in skinks) which, because particularly thin-shelled, allow some gaseous exchange and even nutrient exchange between the egg and the mum’s uterus. The ‘shell’ in such cases effectively ‘dissolves’ over time and the young are ‘born’ later. Other reptiles with true live birth (No. 3, above) are really quite different in the details.5 A problem for creationists? Not at all. They were and still are skinks—thus still the same kind of animal.

A similar-but-unrelated web article (titled “7 signs of evolution in action”) also features skinks—both items, coincidentally, are at No. 7 on the two lists. In the latter article, the claim was that “Lizard loses limbs” and my colleague Tas Walker critiqued this in May 2009. As Tas pointed out at the time:

“ … it does not take millions of years for a lizard to lose its legs. Just one mutation in one generation will do the trick. The loss of legs on lizards is consistent with, and thus points to the truth of, the biblical account of how the world came to be the way it is today … ”

We have written in more detail about limbs in lizards and snakes in the 'Related Articles' section below.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Bell

References and notes

  1. Article on listverse.com, accessed 14 June 2016. Return to text.
  2. Specialists may recognise more than the three listed below but these are the major ones. Return to text.
  3. Or birthing them later, after they’ve ‘hatched’ inside mum. Return to text.
  4. Effectively, there’s a sort of continuum, depending on the time that the eggs are retained inside the mother and the thickness of an egg’s shell. Return to text.
  5. Certain lizards do have viviparous forms (e.g. the skink, Saiphos equalis) but the internal reproductive anatomy and processes are distinct from that of placental mammals. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Lester V.
The first photo in the article showed a skink with a number of eggs. The eggs appear to me to be too large for the skink to have laid them. Is the skink a predator bent on robbing another creature's nest, or did it really lay those eggs?
Philip Bell
A clutch of eggs laid by a single female skink can seem almost impossibly large (both in size and numbers). Eggs are generally laid in some sort of cavity underground (so the picture in the article is a bit of an aberation in this respect). The shells are parchment-like, not brittle like those of birds. After they have been laid, the eggs can actually grow in size due to absorption of water from the surrounding soil, plus the female sometimes urinates on them to prevent drying out. Skinks may also share a nest, pooling their eggs.
Dan M.
Animals are always losing complexity and this does not allow for evolution but it is just the opposite. So a skink is losing its legs, big deal. We never see anything gaining complexity, (new information). If evolution were true, occasionally we should see snakes gaining legs but to my knowledge we don't. When human babies are born without limbs it's called a birth defect and can be pin pointed in the genome. I've never heard of human birth defects being called evolution and when it happens we know something has gone terribly wrong! Take for instance human dwarfism, (people who are miniature). Over the centuries people have gotten bigger on the average but some are born smaller and we know this is a medical condition and not evolution.
Nothing is evolving but all living things are losing complexity [Ed., accumulating mutations which damage existing complexity] and are actually going extinct, (http://creation.com/evidence-for-genetic-entropy). Given enough time, (the evolutionists hero) the world will be vacant.
God in his mercy has provided a way out, all one has to do is humble themselves and accept it; a very hard thing for a hard-hearted stiff-necked generation to do.
Dave R.
"Seeing is believing for evolutionists" -- really? They are already seeing but not believing, viz., "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." - Rom 1 vs 18 - 20
By definition, therefore, they are ungodly and wicked, not acting in a strictly scientific manner that is faithful to the scientific method. So they are without excuse.

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