MicroEvolution: Dispelling the Myths and Misconceptions

As the above image implies, there’s a mist that surrounds the concept of microevolution that conceals clarity on the matter. If you’re not a close follower of the theories that comprise Darwin’s theory of evolution[1], you are probably laboring under a misconception of what microevolution is.  That misconception is furthered (it appears to me) by Darwinists seeking to bolster the evidence-lacking theory.  To dispel the mists surrounding this often abused term, and shine the light on the truth, following are five myths or misconceptions, and the reality or the truth behind each one.

As I point out in an article titled “Games Evolutionists Play: The Name Game” part of the problem with demonstrating the falsity of  Darwinism is that evolutionists keep changing the definition in an attempt to keep evolution from being falsified. So let’s start with a firm definition. Jonathan Wells, author of “Icons of  Evolution” provides a firm definition of both micro-evolution and macro-evolution in the glossary of his book “The Myth of Junk DNA“:

“Evolution can mean simply “change over time,” which is uncontroversial. In biology it can also mean minor changes within existing species (“microevolution”) or large-scale changes in the history of life (“macroevolution”). Darwinism is a particular theory of macroevolution”[2]

Here Wells reveals one trick evolutionists use to try to show evolution is true: By defining it as “change over time” which no one – including creationists and ID (Intelligent Design) advocates – disagrees with. ID advocate Paul Nelson also points out the name game that evolutionists play, but goes on to give us a crystal clear definition of the current theory of evolution:

“Evolution is a kind of funny word. It depends on how you define it. If it means simply ‘change over time’ even the most rock ribbed fundamentalist knows that the history of the earth has changed. That there’s been change over time. If you define evolution precisely though – to mean ‘the common descent of all life on earth from a single ancestor via undirected mutation and natural selection’ – that’s a text book definition of neo-Darwinism – biologists of the first rank have real questions.”[3]

He calls it “neo-Darwinism” because evolution as currently understood includes mutations – which Darwin knew nothing about. Notice the scope of Darwinism, a.k.a. evolution, a.k.a. macroevolution: the origin of all species – all of them – plants, animals, insects, fish, birds, microbes, dinosaurs, humans  – all  from a single common ancestor. The scope of micro-evolution is much more modest:  minor changes within a species.

A Visual of Microevolution

In the recent reboot of Cosmos, atheist astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gives a good demonstration of variation, a.k.a. microevolution (though he never mentions the term) in an illustration of a  single small mutation in a brown bear. One of the devices used in the series is a special “ship of the imagination” used to take viewers anywhere the series wants them to go.  Whether outer space or inside the body, or even inside molecules – all locations are possible  – with the ship changing size as necessary. Tyson explains to see what’s going on with the mutation, we first have to shrink down to the cellular level, then even smaller than that – to the molecular level. So at this point we are not dealing with large macro changes, we are dealing with sub-microscopic ones.

He goes on to describe how the information in the DNA molecular is read, and checked. But sometimes there are errors that are not corrected:

“A specialized protein proofreads to make sure that only the right letters are accepted, so that the DNA is accurately copied. But nobody’s perfect. Occasionally, a proofreading error slips through making a small random change in the genetic instruction.”[4]

In this scenario, this one small change affects an attribute of the bear’s hair, changing the color from brown to white.  This change in hair color is a variation within bears leading to a type of bear known as “polar” bears.  That is variation within a kind.[5] That is microevolution, which is most commonly known as variation. And everyone accepts this type of variation within a kind. 

However, once you return to normal size and return focus to the entire organism and the supposed large scale changes of things like fins to feet and gills to lungs – that’s where opposition to Darwin’s theory (macroevolution) arises.

So to be clear:
Evolution – also called macroevolution deals with large scale changes which  according to the theory, changes one kind of creature to another kind. This type of change has never been observed, and there is no fossil evidence of it either.
Variation – also called microevolution deals with minor changes where, “no new genes are required, just variation in existing genes or the loss of existing genetic information.”[6] In the example given in Cosmos we see a variation in an existing gene. This type of change is universally accepted.

Now that we understand the terms, lets move on to the myths.

Myth #1: Evolutionists make no distinction between microevolution and macroevolution because they’re both the same thing. Only creationists make that distinction.

False. You see false claims like this in articles like this trying to bolster evolution while attempting to discredit creation. This article claims:

“…the somewhat artificial distinction between what is called microevolution and macroevolution, two terms often used by creationists in their attempts to critique evolution”


“…for biologists, there is no relevant difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Both happen in the same way and for the same reasons, so there is no real reason to differentiate them”[7]

They are wrong on both accounts. Biologists do make a distinction and they do not happen the same way – which is actually the basis of Myth #4 which we’ll cover later. The Discovery Institute, an ID think tank and advocate, recently published a paper (which is still available at this writing)[8] which lists some of the scientific papers submitted by evolution believing scientists over whether microevolutionary processes can accomplish macroevolutionary changes. The fact that scientists are arguing about it demonstrates:

a. They are not the same thing and
b. There’s no agreement that micro and macroevolution happen the same way (or they wouldn’t be arguing about it)

Thus the distinction is real, and is used not just by creationists.

Myth #2 Creationists made up the terms, and only they use them
False. The above referenced About.com article makes this claim (that Christians primarily use the terms), but goes on to  point out:

The terms were first used in 1927 by the Russian entomologist Iurii Filipchenko in his book on evolution Variabilität und Variation (Variability and Variation)[9]

Later in 1937, his student acclaimed neo-Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky carried on the use of the terms.

To be clear, both the originator Filipchenko and Dobzhansky his student were Neo-Darwinists, not Creationists.  The terms were necessitated by the addition of mutations to the theory – which meant very small changes like what deGrasse Tyson described above were now part of the theory. What wasn’t known was if these tiny changes could bring about the large scale changes Darwin predicted.  (They can’t as we’ll see in Myth #4.)

Myth #3 Macroevolution is just the logical extension of microevolution
False. It can only be considered a logical extension of microevolution if you think that logical fallacies should be included in your scientific arguments as evidence.

After the small scale changes were recognized, Dobzhansky immediately realized that posed a problem for Darwinism: Jonathan Wells relates the story:

“Nevertheless, in 1937 – almost eighty years after Darwin published The Origin of Species – neo-Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky noted that there was as yet no hard evidence to connect small-scale changes within existing species (which Dobzhansky called ‘microevolution’ to the origin of new species of the larger-scale changes we see in the fossil record (which he called ‘macroevolution’). But since:

‘there is no way toward an understanding of the mechanism of macroevolutionary changes, which require time on a geological scale, other than through a full comprehension of the microevolution processes observable within the span of a human lifetime,’

Dobzhansky concluded,

‘we are compelled at the present level of knowledge reluctantly to put a sign of equality between the mechanism of macro- and
microevolution, and proceeding on this assumption, to push our investigations as far ahead as this working hypothesis will permit.’[10]

So Dobzhansky recognized there was no evidence to equate microevolution with macroevolution. So what does he do? He invokes the fallacy of appealing to ignorance, and says in effect, “since we don’t know it’s false to make such an equivalence, we must assume it’s true,” a textbook example for an illustration of the fallacy.

Dobzhansky recognized there was a) no evidence to equate the mechanisms and b) no logical reason for them to be the same. But in order to keep Darwinism alive, he fallaciously said the the mechanisms are equivalent so let’s move on. Hardly scientific.

Myth #4 The debate over whether microevolutionary processes can produce macroevolution level changes is over and settled.
False. Evolutionists are known to promote false statements such as “evolution is a fact”(Dawkins and others) and “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of biology.”(Dobzhansky) Well here’s another one to add to the list of false statements: “the debate over whether microevolution processes work in a  macroevolution setting is settled.”  Since they have no strong evidence supporting their theory, what else can they do but try to garner support via false and misleading statements? But even among evolutionists the matter is not settled.  I’ve already highlighted evolution believing scientists who continue the debate over this very issue as listed in the Discovery Institute paper.

On top of that, there is much new evidence that suggests that variation (microevolution) cannot accomplish what Darwinists need it to in order to create large scale changes. Let me give you one example:  Body plans. Body plans involves the overall design of a creature – 2 legs, 4 legs, no legs? Arms, fins, wings, etc. All evidence points to the fact that body plans are not contained in DNA – where microevolution operates.  Consider:

“The body plan, as far as we know, is not in the DNA.”[11]
Jonathan Wells


“Research on animal development and macroevolution over the last thirty years – research done from within the neo-Darwinian framework – has shown that the neo-Darwinian explanation for the origin of new body plans is over-whelmingly likely to be false – and for reasons that Darwin himself would have understood.[12]
Paul Nelson

In order to make changes to the body plan, mutations would have to occur in areas of DNA that controls body plans. The problem with that is, as near as scientists can figure, body plans are not controlled by DNA.

Further, even if the information were in the DNA,  Nelson concludes variation (microevolution) could not make the numerous beneficial heritable changes necessary for a new body plan to be selected, and thus the emergence of a new body change via variation (microevolution) is impossible.

Myth #5  It’s okay for Christians to believe in microevolution, but not macroevolution
Since microevolution refers to variation which Christians affirm, this is technically true. The Caveat is that using the term “microevolution” is fraught with danger since  it is so misunderstood and misused. You may use it correctly – referring to variation, but those who hear you – who may not be as  knowledgeable – will believe you to be saying that macroevolution is true since they don’t understand the distinction.  This is the myth part that is false. So while true technically true, I counsel against use of both terms “micro” and “macro” evolution.

The other problem with the use of this term is that it masks the real problem with evolution: Evolution has no answer to the information contained in DNA, the information needed to make new traits, new creatures and new species.  Well known creation advocate and author Jonathan Sarfati puts it this way:

“The main scientific objection to evolution is not about whether changes occur through time, and neither is it about the size of the change (so use of the terms ‘micro-‘ and ‘macro-evolution’ should be discouraged). It isn’t even about whether natural selection happens. The key issue is the type of change required – to change microbes into men requires changes that increases the genetic information content.” [13] (emphases his)

The reason: there is no natural process that produces information, and evolution requires only natural processes.

As I’ve pointed out before, this is the modern challenge to Darwinian theory. Evolution has no answer to explain either the origin of the most efficient information storage and retrieval system known to man (DNA), or the origin of the coded information within it. Thus speaking of “micro” and “macro” evolution misses the point entirely.

So as the teacher said,  “now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:”[14] Microevolution is nothing more than variation, and neither the terms micro nor macroevolution should be used. Variation alone cannot generate the changes needed to create the large scale changes needed for evolution to be true, so an examination of variation yields yet further evidence that evolution is not, and cannot be true.

Duane Caldwell | posted 8/4/2016 | printer friendly version


1. According to respected evolutionist Ersnt Mayr, The theory of evolution is not a single theory. It is comprised of 5 separate components of which the commonly known one: “Common Descent” is just one component.
Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is  New York: Basic Books 2001 p.86

2. Jonathan Wells, The Myth of Junk DNA, Seattle: Discovery Institute Press, 2011 (Kindle) Loc: 4274

3. Paul Nelson, ref from “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed” Documentary, 2008

4.  Neil deGrasse Tyson, ref from: Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey episode “Some of the Things That Molecules Do”, Documentary, 2014

5. “Kinds” refers to the Biblical kinds as recorded in Gen 1.21, 24 et. al.
Kinds are more general than “species”; for example:  “dog” kind, “cat” kind, “horse” kind etc. The reason various species of dogs can interbred is because they are the same “kind”, as the Bible says they reproduce according to their kind.

6. Kirk Durston, Microevolution verses Macroevolution: Two Mistakes, Evolution News and Views, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/07/microevolution097801.html, accessed 7/19/2016

7. Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: What’s the Difference? About.com,  http://atheism.about.com/od/evolutionexplained/a/micro_macro.htm, accessed 7/31/2016

8. Center for Science and Culture/Discovery Institute, The Scientific Controversy Over Whether
Microevolution Can Account For Macroevolution, http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=118 accessed 8/1/2016

9. Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: What’s the Difference? About.com

10. Jonathan Wells, The Myth of Junk DNA, Loc 199

11. Jonathan Wells, ref. from Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record, Illustra Media DVD Documentary, 2009

12. Paul Nelson, Ref. From Meyer, Stephen C.,  Darwin’s Doubt – The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, New York: HarperOne, 2013, p. 264

13. Jonathan Sarfati, The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution, Brisbane Australia: Creation Ministries International, 2010, p. 43

14. The speaker in Ecclesiastes is identified as the teacher (or preacher depending on your translation Eccl 1.1) and concludes the book with this phrase. (Eccl 12.13)

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Cheri Fields
7 years ago

Thank you for this! It is a mark of the solidity of our arguments that we generally present and understand the opposing view’s beliefs more clearly and logically than they do themselves. The inherent limitations of change we observe in the biological world is a major support for the creationist argument, but for too long it has been the best means for the evolutionists to dupe a simple minded public.
I especially appreciate your warning about “micro” evolution. I’ve seen the same problem and the more voices speaking out on this danger, the better.

7 years ago

This is an excellent summary of the well understood deception that evolutionists have tried to weave over the problems in presenting any evidence for their slow and (un)natural creation mythical ideas. For years too, mathematicians have battled over the problems of beneficial mutations just not appearing in large enough numbers to have the slightest chance of being incorporated to some latent design feature, supposedly bubbling up inside the genes! -Features, which, if our observations of design in Creation to date are understood, there is no known means of achieving, slowly, or quickly, even by a fully planned set of systems… Read more »