Browse Search Feedback Other Links Home Home The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
Previous Claim: CB901.3   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CB902.1

Claim CB902:

Microevolution is distinct from macroevolution.


Wallace, Timothy, 2002. Five major evolutionist misconceptions about evolution.


  1. Microevolution and macroevolution are different things, but they involve mostly the same processes. Microevolution is defined as the change of allele frequencies (that is, genetic variation due to processes such as selection, mutation, genetic drift, or even migration) within a population. There is no argument that microevolution happens (although some creationists, such as Wallace, deny that mutations happen). Macroevolution is defined as evolutionary change at the species level or higher, that is, the formation of new species, new genera, and so forth. Speciation has also been observed.

    Creationists have created another category for which they use the word "macroevolution." They have no technical definition of it, but in practice they use it to mean evolution to an extent great enough that it has not been observed yet. (Some creationists talk about macroevolution being the emergence of new features, but it is not clear what they mean by this. Taking it literally, gradually changing a feature from fish fin to tetrapod limb to bird wing would not be macroevolution, but a mole on your skin which neither of your parents have would be.) I will call this category supermacroevolution to avoid confusing it with real macroevolution.

    Speciation is distinct from microevolution in that speciation usually requires an isolating factor to keep the new species distinct. The isolating factor need not be biological; a new mountain range or the changed course of a river can qualify. Other than that, speciation requires no processes other than microevolution. Some processes such as disruptive selection (natural selection that drives two states of the same feature further apart) and polyploidy (a mutation that creates copies of the entire genome), may be involved more often in speciation, but they are not substantively different from microevolution.

    Supermacroevolution is harder to observe directly. However, there is not the slightest bit of evidence that it requires anything but microevolution. Sudden large changes probably do occur rarely, but they are not the only source of large change. There is no reason to think that small changes over time cannot add up to large changes, and every reason to believe they can. Creationists claim that microevolution and supermacroevolution are distinct, but they have never provided an iota of evidence to support their claim.

  2. There is evidence for supermacroevolution in the form of progressive changes in the fossil record and in the pattern of similarities among living things showing an absence of distinct "kinds." This evidence caused evolution in some form to be accepted even before Darwin proposed his theory.

Further Reading:

Wilkins, John, 1997. Macroevolution.
Previous Claim: CB901.3   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CB902.1

created 2000-11-4, modified 2004-2-26