In the comments section of another thread over at Pandas’ Thumb, I asked leading ID proponent Paul Nelson to explain why he thinks the differences between humans and chimps represent macroevolution and not microevolution. Dr. Nelson responded to my question. The terms microevolution and macroevolution are so frequently used in the context of creationism, Intelligent Design, and evolution, so I thought it might be a good idea to move the topic to a new thread.
In addition to linking to Paul’s comment, I’ll also reproduce it in full at the end of this post. That should make it easier for people to see what he said in its entirety, without my commentary.
My question to Dr. Nelson was this:
While you’re here, and this is genuine curiosity on my part, could you take a couple of minutes to elaborate on exactly why you believe that human-chimp divergence is macroevolutionary rather than microevolutionary?
I asked that because he had just written a blog post in which he classified (more than once) the divergence of chimps and humans as “macroevolutionary.” The beginning of his response to my question is somewhat dismissive:
Micro, macro, tomato, tomahto…”I am apt to suspect there enters somewhat of a dispute of words into this controversy” (Hume 1779).
I’ve spent the last two years studying evolutionary biology, molecular ecology, speciation, and related subjects at the graduate level. My interest in evolution started well before that, and I’ve been following the various creation-evolution controversies for a solid decade now. I have absolutely no problem with the idea that the distinction between macro- and microevolution is nothing more than a dispute over words.
The thing is, they’re not my words.