C: Evolution is unproven
Well, yes, but so is literally all of science, because science is not in the business of proving anything. Proofs is something you only find in mathematics, and on alcohol bottles. When science does its job it takes the currently available fact and tries to form a comprehensive explanation for those facts, but it’s always subject to revision and re-evaluation.
C: Evolution doesn’t even qualify as a theory or as a hypothesis.
A scientific theory is “a well-established explanation for scientific data.” The modern Theory of Evolution offers the explains that the diversity of life around us arose from variations occurring on genes within populations (usually arising from random variations) and that natural selection is predominant driver for the selection of those gene variations. So no, evolution most definitely qualifies as a scientific theory.
C: Evolution is a religion
Evolution is a fairy tale for adults
You can project as much as you want about the problems of your worldview onto mine, but it doesn’t make your claims true. As far as scientists go, recent studies show that upwards of 97% of all scientists accept the Theory of Evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life. The most important thing to remember is that science is extremely conservative by nature, and such a large number of scientists would not accept theories that are as wrong as you think Evolution must be, for over 100 years.
C: Saying that 97% of scientists accept Evolution is just an appeal to authority
Not really, because it’s not being offered as a deductive proof that evolution is true. I’ve already offered a comprehensive explanation for why the consensus evaluation of experts is not an appeal to authority.
C: Evolution is unreliable historical science, while real science must be observational
Science makes no distinction between “historical” and “observational.” Science works by building models and testing the predictive power of those models. I explain more here.
C: But nobody has ever seen a cat turn into a dog
And nobody ever will, because this kind of event would disprove the Theory of Evolution. The Theory of Evolution says that the offspring of X will always also be an X. It’s the reason that humans are apes, and dogs are wolves. Dogs will always give birth to dogs, albeit slightly different dogs, as they will not have the genes of either of their parents. It is the accumulation of very small changes that allows new species to arise over time.
That said, with enough time and effort, one could select and breed dogs such that they are remarkably similar to cats. Dogs and cats have a common ancestor from around 55 million years ago, but even if you managed to breed dogs that looked and behaved like cats, they would still be dogs (mind you, they’d be a completely new species of dog.)
C: There are no transitional fossils
Actually, there are. We have many of them, and some are more complete than others. To assert this only shows that you really haven’t looked at the evidence, or understand what you’re talking about. For the record we have a good set of fossils showing the transition for modern whales and their amphibious ancestors.
C: Evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life
Nor does it try to. Just like chemistry doesn’t try to explain the origin of atoms, evolution doesn’t try to explain the origin of life. That’s a job for abiogenesis. Evolution is a theory that explains why there how the diversity to life arises.
C: But you don’t know how life started
Yup, you got me there. Nobody knows how life started, and that includes you. This isn’t a problem for evolution, as evolution on requires that life exist (and we both accept that it does, we just disagree on how old it is.) Scientists are currently working on this question, have a good outline of what kinds of things likely happened, and may one day be able to create complete self-replicating DNA molecules without human involvement from nothing but simple compounds. That day is, however, not in the immediate future.
C: Over 1000 scientists have signed the dissent from Darwin
Big deal! Most of these 1000 scientists from fields that have the background knowledge to properly evaluate evolution. Of the remaining scientists, that are in fields related to evolution, we’re talking about a very tiny fraction of all relevant scientists. There are a lot of people with PhD’s and it isn’t surprising that you can find kooks in any field. It’s really not that surprising that there are a small number of biologists who disagree with evolution. In short, this is nowhere near as impressive as you think it is, one can almost always cherry-pick some experts who will agree with you. See this for more.
C: Those splotches of goo on your windshield have all the building blocks necessary for life, and yet no biologist could take those chemicals, place them into an ideal environment, and get them to reform into a living organism from which they originated.
Besides the fact that this has nothing to do with evolution, and is an argument from ignorance, getting life started from non-living materials probably requires other catalysts that would not be present in the material you provide. Once some complex reactions have stopped they can be very difficult to get started again without very specific and ideal conditions. Life is very likely to be one of those things.