Talk:Theory of evolution/Archive 10

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Not Proven, but Strongly Supported

The beginning of the article states that evolution is unproven. Well we can't really disprove anything, neither creationism nor evolution. Evolution does however, have abundant supporting evidence to back it up --DemocraticSocialist 15:14, 20 May 2007 (EDT)

category

Could someone on high add [[category:Liberal Falsehoods]] to this page? Auld Nick 06:47, 27 April 2007 (EDT)

Concise explanation

In accordance with the panel's request, I have patched together an extremely basic layman's paragraph here. It could use some additions, clearing up, and rewording, but it's a start. What do y'all think? --Hojimachongtalk 17:20, 4 May 2007 (EDT)

Not bad but does run the risk of conflating evolution with Natural Selection. (the present article doesn't seem to know the difference either but it is extraordinarily retarded so there's no surprise. Maybe start with something real simple like "In biology evolution is the change of any trait in a population of organisms over time." then describe how natural selection and drift can go about doing that? (just my thoughts) --Igor nz 01:14, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
I agree that it's a start! I can't quite put my finger on what I don't like about it, but perhaps, in part at least, it is Igor nz's comment about conflating it with natural selection. I don't like, however, his alternative suggestion, as it is too broad and vague a definition. See here for more on that. Personally (and perhaps the Panel has other ideas), I think that this definition is too concise. Perhaps two or three different definitions of varying lengths could be offered? Philip J. Rayment 06:25, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
A tad less concise, but how about: Populations of organisms change over time. The theory of evolution explains this via two forces: mutation and natural selection. Mutations are errors in the replication of DNA, and sometimes cause changes in the organism that carries the mutation. If this change increases the chance of the organism surviving and breeding, its offspring will carry on this beneficial trait, and pass it on to subsequent generations. This process, which increases the frequency of certain traits, is known as natural selection.[1] At this time, the prevailing scientific view is that all living organisms are descendants of a single common ancestor, and that all differences between these species are the result of evolution.Kww 16:39, 11 May 2007 (EDT)
Any definition needs to include that evolution is about all living things descending from a common ancestor. Hojimachong's version doesn't mention this at all, and Kww's relegates it to almost an afterthought. The problem, I guess, it the bit, "At this time, the prevailing scientific view is that ..." Apart from occasional suggestions of more than one common ancestor, has this ever not been the evolutionary view? Philip J. Rayment 20:08, 11 May 2007 (EDT)
It was considered an unsettled question until DNA analysis pretty much closed off the saltation scenarios. From the fossil record alone, no one could completely rule out a staged creation scenario, where the Earth was prepared with bacteria and algae, and then something created fish, and after the oceans were working pretty well, created salamanders and frogs, and then bunny rabbits, etc.. From there, evolution would only create variation on these salted kinds. This is a variation on some of the YEC theories that try to reduce the load on Noah's Ark by postulating that modern-day species are only variations on a fixed group of templates, said templates being of divine origin. It wasn't until modern DNA analysis came along that science could demonstrate through conserved gene patterns that all life can be sorted via copying errors in their DNA, and that the tree generated by examining the copying errors matches the tree generated by examining the fossil record. That correspondence is as close to proving evolution to be true as science will ever get, and, since that tree has but one root, there was but one ancestor. Still, the reason it is stated as an afterthought is that is really is a conclusion, not a fundamental of the theory. If tomorrow, we discovered some group of lifeforms in an ocean vent that were completely unrelated to all other life forms, that wouldn't disprove evolutionary theory ... we would just have two independent trees of life to study, each with its own root.Kww 22:44, 11 May 2007 (EDT)
Wikipedia's article on Saltation doesn't even mention the scenario you mention, which as far as I know never had widespread support. Yes, I agree that evolution is so flexible that it can explain almost anything, including (in this case) multiple origins. Perhaps we are missing the point a bit here. I'm not trying to emphasise that evolution is inherently that all living things have come from a single common ancestor, but that all living things have come from gradual development from something else quite different. That is, evolution is not the creationist scenario of limited variation within (created) kinds, but of unlimited variation so that one can (if not did) go from an original ancestor to everything that we have today. That is, evolution is more than just some variation within living things—it is virtually unlimited variation. That point does not come out in your explanation. Philip J. Rayment 00:17, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I think the phrase "all differences between these species are the result of evolution" says that, but I guess it could be made stronger. How about ": Populations of organisms change over time. The theory of evolution explains this via two forces: mutation and natural selection. Mutations are errors in the replication of DNA, and sometimes cause changes in the organism that carries the mutation. If this change increases the chance of the organism surviving and breeding, its offspring will carry on this beneficial trait, and pass it on to subsequent generations. This process, which increases the frequency of certain traits, is known as natural selection.[1] In time, this process of gradual modification can create radical differences between ancestor and descendant. At this time, the prevailing scientific view is that all living organisms are descendants of a single common ancestor, and that all differences between these species are the result of evolution."Kww 00:33, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
The "all differences between these species are the result of evolution" I suppose is okay, except for the qualifier at the start of that sentence (your original proposal) that I previously commented on.
Otherwise, your revised version is much better. I think I still prefer HeartOfGold's version, and I would be interested in your comments on that (his later version without the debunking).
Philip J. Rayment 01:51, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

<unindent> Without sources, the following would be a good lead (after it is reworked, error corrected, and cited):


The biological Theory of Evolution is the hypothesis that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via a process of natural selection and genetic mutation. Finite food supplies and geometric population growth lead to a struggle for survival. Statistically, individuals most genetically suited to their environment survive, while individuals less suited perish. Surviving individuals have a greater chance of passing their traits to offspring via hereditary. The characteristics of populations evolve to best match their environment. These adaptations, according to the Theory of Evolution, can trend without bound, leading to the formation of new species. With the exception of controversial fruit fly experiments where the definition of species was expanded to include an unwillingness of females from one population to mate with males of another population, the evolution of new species has not been reproduced in the lab. Biologists are unable to predict either precisely or statistically the number of generations N it would take a species X to evolve into a species Y in an environment E. Consequently, the theory of evoluiton fails Popper's falsifiability criteria for scientific theories, and is not a scientific theory. Staunch evolutionists counter that other scientific theories, such as M-theory, the Big Bang Theory, or theories of geophysics, also fail the Popper falsifiability test.

This would require a link to an article on falsifiability. Also, the above lead would no doubt be objected to by many biologists (though I know of one who would probably agree.) HeartOfGold 23:27, 11 May 2007 (EDT)

Opps. HeartOfGold 23:34, 11 May 2007 (EDT)
The article is sufficiently full of garbage as it stands. I see no reason to add more, especially when it is intentionally deceitful.Kww 00:19, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Intentionally deceitful? Philip J. Rayment 00:28, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I tried to retract it as inflammatory before someone saw it, but you were too fast. Yes, it is intentionally deceitful. The fruit-fly experiments were not particularly controversial (with the exception that creationists object to them, but that it not a standard for controversy), and the definition of speciation has included cases of unwillingness to mate for a long time.Kww 00:33, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I'm happy to go along with your statement that the experiments were not controversial (although I'm not really aware of creationists objecting to them), and the definition of species. However, nothing you said there supports your accusation of being deliberately deceitful. Philip J. Rayment 01:51, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I think that HeartOfGold is well aware that the experiments were not controversial, and that the definition of species was not changed during any experiment. Since he is aware of that, and wrote otherwise, it is intentional deceit.Kww 08:27, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
You think that he is well aware of it, so on the basis of something that you "think", and that you are unlikely to know for sure, you feel free to accuse him of intentional deceit? At the very least, why not give him the benefit of the doubt? Philip J. Rayment 09:15, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I was saving a retraction of the comment (more for politeness sake than sincere belief on my part, I will admit), when you edited in your first reply, making the retraction somewhat impossible. As for why I hesitate to give him the benefit of the doubt, the rest of his posts make it clear that he has no particular interest in defining evolution, simply an interest in "debunking" it. His use of insulting slurs such as "evolutionist" make that clear.Kww 11:49, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't see why you can't still retract (as opposed to delete) the comment. You seem to overlook that he could be trying to both define and debunk it. The very fact that he was willing to split his attempt at a definition into both a definition and a separate debunking tends to support that possibility. And I don't consider "evolutionist" to be insulting at all. It is simply a straightforward description of such a person. See also my comments on my Wikipedia user page, here. Philip J. Rayment 10:06, 13 May 2007 (EDT)
I'm sorry that you don't understand that "evolutionist" is a slur. It is a term invented by creationists and used by creationists in an effort to cast evolutionary theory as a belief system. It should not be used by polite people.Kww 00:06, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
The term was not invented by creationists, and although mostly used by them, it is you who is casting a slur in claiming that we use it to slur. Rather, we use it as an appropriate descriptive term, and I've yet to be offered a suitable alternative. Philip J. Rayment 03:06, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
The problem is that you think that describing scientists and others that have studied a field as if they are operating based on a belief system as opposed to operating on the results of study is appropriate. It isn't appropriate, and it is demeaning.Kww 08:35, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
No, although I do believe that they are operating on a belief system, that is not why I use the word. I use it simply as I describe on my Wikipedia user page. I guess that it's about time I went and answered your message on my Wikipedia talk page. Philip J. Rayment 09:14, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
HeartOfGold's version is much better, but I have a couple of problems with it.
  • It goes too far, in trying to debunk evolution as well as explain it. The requested "concise explanation" is to be part of this Theory of Evolution article, and the explanation is only intended to explain it, not debunk it as well. That can be/is done elsewhere in the article.
  • Creationists accept that speciation (limited to within the created kind) occurs, and I think for more reasons that just the fruit fly experiments, although other cases may not be laboratory experiments as such.
I'd be fairly happy with simply leaving off everything after "the formation of new species", but changing that bit to something like "the formation of new species, families, classes, etc."
Philip J. Rayment 00:28, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't think that HeartOfGold's definition is either good or offered in good faith.Kww 00:33, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

I beg to differ, Kww. Philip, so you like:


The biological Theory of Evolution is the hypothesis that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via a process of natural selection and genetic mutation. Finite food supplies and geometric population growth lead to a struggle for survival. Statistically, individuals most genetically suited to their environment survive, while individuals less suited perish. Surviving individuals have a greater chance of passing their traits to offspring via hereditary. The characteristics of populations evolve to best match their environment. These adaptations, according to the Theory of Evolution, can trend without bound, leading to the formation of new species, families, classes, etc.".

And in the section on criticisms (again, subject to reworking, citation, details, etc.):


With the exception of controversial fruit fly experiments where the speciation criteria was based on an inability or unwillingness of females from one population to mate with males of another population, the evolution of new species has not been reproduced in the lab. Biologists are unable to predict either precisely or statistically the number of generations N it would take a species X to evolve into a species Y in an environment E. Consequently, the theory of evoluiton fails Popper's falsifiability criteria for scientific theories, and is not a scientific theory. Staunch evolutionists counter that other scientific theories, such as M-theory, the Big Bang Theory, or theories of geophysics, also fail the Popper falsifiability test.

I take offense at the challanging my good faith. I stated that this would not be liked by evolutionists. I submitted it for others to review, and I did not ask that it be taken without modification. It was written largely from my memory, and offered to solve a problem. Now I do stand corrected, as the same user was polite in pointing out that one (what I consider to be ridiculous) definition of speciation has included an unwillingness and/or inability to mate. Without a source backing this controversial observation (that the definition is ridiculous), I would not insist that it be added to the article. I'll add a nice graphic illustrating this absurd speciation experiment. HeartOfGold 00:55, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

Yes, the first quote in that post is what I had in mind. I've also asked Kww to comment on it. There may be bits from both yours and his that could be included.
As for the debunking bit, as I said, creationists do accept speciation, which you seem to be trying to reject. The problem with arguing against speciation per se is that the definition of a species is somewhat arbitrary, as well as being man-made. People can choose to categorise things according to whatever criteria they like. Some classification systems are more useful than others, and the criteria for "species" has its problems, but the fact is that creatures do change from one "species" to another "species", as "species" are defined. So I would not include that attempt at debunking at all, I wouldn't think. It's really much like the "evolution is a change in gene frequency" argument. If that's the way that evolution is defined, then evolution is true. But of course that's not what evolution means in common use, and it's not the full extent of what evolution means to scientists. The response is not to claim that evolution according to their definition is false, but to claim that goo-to-you evolution is false. Similarly with speciation; the response is not to claim that speciation is false, but that changes from one kind of animal to a quite different kind are false. That's why I objected to defining evolution as little more than speciation. Philip J. Rayment 01:51, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I'm not sure who is arguing for what or whom here, but now evolutionists simply define evolution as "change over time." This definition is, of course, almost meaningless but its motivation is to make it difficult to dispute. When asked what evolution means, that is what they say.--Aschlafly 01:03, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Yes. In debate, evolutionists often refuse to differentiate between macro evolution (without bounds) and micro-evolution (e.g., breeding of dogs). That said, I think the theory of evolution technically means what I defined it as. The comment about debunking is correct, and should, if included, be included in a different section. I think what I wrote matches, at a level between lay and scientific, the actual working modern synthesis (of Darwin's thoeries and genetic/hereditary theories that evolved from mendel's work with peas). Incidentally, I fully support micro-evolution, as it is not only observable and reproducable, it is also probably described in the Bible in GE 30:31-43 (Jacob became rich as his father-in-law Laban's goats micro-evolved.) Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is a story to fit the observations (fossil record, genetics, etc.) but otherwise not scientific. HeartOfGold 01:16, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
One more go (to ellaborate on genetic mutations):


The biological Theory of Evolution is the hypothesis that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via a process of natural selection and genetic mutation. Finite food supplies and geometric population growth lead to a struggle for survival among individuals within the population. Over the coursee of generations, genetic mutations occur, sometimes leading to an advantage. Statistically, individuals most genetically suited to their environment survive, while individuals less suited perish. Surviving individuals have a greater chance of passing their traits to offspring via hereditary. The characteristics of populations evolve to best match their environment. These adaptations, according to the Theory of Evolution, can trend without bound, leading to the formation of new species, families, classes, etc.".
Of course, this could use at least a copy edit for readability. And if I mischaracterized anything, please say so politely. Thanks. HeartOfGold 01:24, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I personally like this one. And please, feel free to post your versions at User:Hojimachong/Concise definition of Evo, so others may edit for readability. --Hojimachongtalk 01:55, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

This version is ok, but could everyone please ease up on the YEC position? Not all of us conservative Christians believe in the Young Earth position, and yet it is plastered all over the place. There are alot of Christians out here that don't beleive in Young Earth models, and this site tends to lean heavily towards a very literal narrow view.Prof0705 20:54, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

Speciation in the lab

Speciation in the lab. (A population of fruit flies was seperated into two populations, A and B. A was fed maltose based diet, while B was fed starch based diet. After several generations, females from one group would not successfully mate with males from the other group. Humorously, a similar thing happened to me. I tried dating several Dutch girls in college, but they would have nothing to do with me....must have been a different species:) I know this will make devout evolutionists angry, but the graphic truly humorously illustrates the famous (infamous) fruit fly experiments. As such, I submit it to the main contributors of this article for consideration. HeartOfGold 01:01, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

Speciation in the lab, by HeartOfGold, released to the public domain.
An example of the arbitrariness of the definition of "species" is the requirement that different creatures interbreed "in their natural environment", leading to ...
..the case of two squirrel populations at Grand Canyon, Arizona—one population on the north rim of the canyon, the other population on the south rim. If placed together, these two populations could readily interbreed. However, the Grand Canyon presents a barrier impossible for either population to cross. Hence they are classified as two different species.[1]
Philip J. Rayment 04:08, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Wow. I hadn't heard that one. And it seems that laboratories are not natural environments for most creatures. While I am very skeptical of speciation and suspicious of changing definitions to generate desired results (and in the case of fruit flies, it is clear to me that this is exactly what happened), I have only spent the briefest of time examining rabidly pro-creation or pro-evolution websites such as answersingenesis, pandasthumb, or talkorigins, as for my purposes, such sources are less than ideal, they being very interested sources set up to propagandize.
Akin to my recommendations for reading the bible, which is read it at least twice before reading either books about the bible or Chrisitian apologetics, I am not yet equipped to spend a great deal of time reading pro-creation or pro-evolution web-sites.
It was surprising to me to learn that "creationists" accept speciation. I consider myself a creationist in that I believe that the Bible is true (though my understanding may be flawed for various reasons), but I do not yet accept speciation, especially since whales and dolphins have mated and produced fertile offspring. Even so, I believe that God gave us brains, so when discrepencies exist between the bible and human knowledge, such as the value of pi, I am not alarmed. That is to say, I would not reject good, reproducable science that showed speciation occurs. But simply weaving a story (macro-evolution) to fit observations (fossil and genetic records) is the very definition of conspiracy theory--and changing the definition of species to generate desired outcomes is less than wholesome.
Its kind of like a famous legal definition of ************--I don't have a good definition of species, but I know it when I see it, and roll my eyes when I see evolutionists defining species to produce desired results. HeartOfGold 12:50, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Actually, modifying the explanation to match the observations (such as the fossil and genetic records) is the definition of science. That's the primary difference between evolutionary theory and creationism: science adapts the explanation to fit the evidence, creationism denies the evidence to match the explanation.Kww 17:11, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
I support science. However, surreptitiously changing the meanings of words used in previous theories to match new observations is not science; it is propaganda. (In this context, I am talking about the way evolution is taught to the masses; not the way it is discussed by relevant researchers.) Discarding old theories and forming new theories to match observations is science. Forming and testing theories is science, even when the theories turn out to be falsified. Coming up with theories that are falsifiable is science, even when no observations have been made to falisfy the theory. Citing the canard that precambrian rabbits would falsify evolutionary theory is aplogetics. I agree with Popper's philosophy of science. Falsifiability is the bright line in the philosophy of science seperating science from non-science. I do not personally think creationism is science. But I have not studied creationists' papers, either. I have studied some evolutionary research, though I am not a biologist. And I agree with Popper that many evolutionary theories are scientific; but the theory of evolution is an unfalsifiable conspiracy theory--a story to fit the facts, where the facts are interpreted and cherry picked by evolutionists. Meanwhile, my beliefs are not so important. The real question is what is a good lead for this article. I submitted one that I felt was a good summary without getting too bogged down in miniutia. The lead cannot go into all the details, so the question is, out of the details that were missing, which ones should be included in the lead. HeartOfGold 14:16, 13 May 2007 (EDT)


HeartOfGold, I have to wonder why you have a problem with speciation. It's not as though the Bible says that living things don't vary at all, and "species" is a "recent" (18th century originally, but modified since) man-made classification system that obviously the Bible doesn't mention. It being man-made (and somewhat arbitrary), so what if it is defined in such a way as to have the result that speciation can be said to occur? It being a man-made definition means that it can't contradict what the Bible says.
Put it this way. You presumably accept that dogs can be bred to produce different varieties, from Great Danes to chihuahuas. Does this variety contradict the Bible? No. Are these different "species"? The answer to that question depends on how you define "species". Actually, by the standard definition, they are not different species, but as the definition is somewhat arbitrary, it could be defined so that they are (and if we only knew dogs from their fossils, they probably would be classified as different species!). But as the definition is somewhat arbitrary and is different to any similar definition in the Bible, so what? It makes no difference to the accuracy of the Bible.
Philip J. Rayment 10:19, 13 May 2007 (EDT)
I agree that species is a recent man-made classification system that obviously the Bible doesn't mention. However, evolutionists, it seems to me, emphasize the fact that dogs and cats and humans and maple trees have a common origin, and species is a synonym for "kinds." They infer this from genetics. Nothing wrong with infering, but other inferances might also be made, such as: 1. The parts of DNA that are common among various kinds are common not because they share a common anncestor but rather because they were found useful by some intelligent force. 2. Akin to the wheel, the common parts of DNA are common because they independantly developed. Many other inferances can be made, but secular fundementalist evolutionists seem to distort evolution while wielding it as a feeble weapon against the very existence of God. But going back to the fluid definition of species, I agree with you. And if the fact that this is an arbitrary classification is not already noted in the article on species, it should be. HeartOfGold 14:16, 13 May 2007 (EDT)
The problem with your argument is that you would have to explain why errors in the DNA code are shared in an inheritance pattern. Actually, the problem with your argument is that you have decided your opinion is of value when compared to hundreds of thousands of of man-hours of peer-reviewed research. It really isn't. If you want to have an informed opinion on the truth of evolution, perhaps taking a few college level courses in it (or equivalent self-study) would help. Until you have done that, you probably should just refrain from having an opinion at all. As for your definition, I have commented on the definition part of it a couple of times over on Hochimajong's talk page. The superfluous debunking section just needs to be deleted.Kww 00:06, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I really don't think you're convincing me of anything, nor am I convincing you of anything. You should read Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery. What book do you recommend I read? Please don't refer me to TalkOrigins or some other devout evolutionist site. HeartOfGold 01:07, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't know your background level. Certainly, you should be able to read and understand http://www.amazon.com/Molecular-Biology-Robert-F-Weaver/dp/0073319945/

http://www.amazon.com/Evolutionary-Biology-Third-Douglas-Futuyma/dp/0878931856 and http://www.amazon.com/Molecular-Biology-Fifth-James-Watson/dp/080534635X . They're expensive, so your local library may be a better bet than Amazon. If the Futuyma book above is too hard of a slog, http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Douglas-J-Futuyma/dp/0878931872 is a more basic introduction, but it tends not to support every detail with references like the larger book does. If you have difficult with Weaver and Watson, let me know what areas are causing trouble, and I can recommend reading to help with those areas.

Please stop calling people "evolutionist". You might be unpleasantly surprised at the names I would like to call you in response.Kww 08:35, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
Evolution is a theory, and evolutionists are proponents of that theory, and talkorigins and other evolution advocacy sites are chock-full of proponents of evolution. These words are defined in the dictionary, and are not listed as offensive: Physics-physicist, chemistry-chemist, evolution-evolutionist. I don't recall using ther term to describe you, but if you are a proponent of evolution, it is a field of study and probably nothing to be ashamed of, unless you're a college professor and you pressure students to denounce their biblically based beliefs (a la Michael Dini). Evolutionist is a perfectly fine term. HeartOfGold 10:04, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
Actually your examples are of scientific disciplines, except for evolution. Evolution is not a scientific discipline but a theory among many theories in the biological sciences. To follow your logic a person studying evolution would be a biologist, since evolution is inherently biologically based and the theory falls under the biological sciences. The term evolutionist is synonymous with Darwinist which has been derived from opponents of evolution. That is why it is considered a negative connotation to a biologist. It is a reductionistic approach of a biologist's scope within their discipline. I study evolution but also study pharmacology with a molecular biologist perspective, according to your assessment I would be an evolutionist but to another scientist I would be labeled as a molecular biologist. See the difference?--TimS 10:24, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't see the point of this. Young earth creationist scientists do believe in speciation and I believe they believe in more rapid speciation than evolutionists (see: Young earth creationism ). Conservative 19:30, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

Moving discussion of lead back to evolution talk page

No offense to Hojimachong, but on second thought, the discussion for the lead of this article probably belongs on this article's talk page. Consequently, I have two proposed openings. Please add a third, and/or discuss the pros and cons of each version below.


Version 1: The biological Theory of Evolution states that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via a process of natural selection and genetic mutation. Competition for finite resources, coupled with population growth, prevents all individuals from leaving equal numbers of descendants. Over the course of generations, some groups of individuals will leave disproportionately large numbers of descendants, and others disproportionately small or none. Over time, genetic mutations occur, sometimes leading to an advantage for possessors of that mutation. These mutations create new subpopulations, which, over time, will diverge, as individuals with different groups of mutations successfully exploit different niches, and further mutations occur within those subpopulations. These adaptations lead to the formation of new species, families, classes, etc.

  • Oppose: Not bad, but not entirely clear. Specifically, "Competition for finite resources, coupled with population growth, prevents all individuals from leaving equal numbers of descendants." This is not true by itself as it leaves out the differential cause of the differential reproductive success. Without a cause to differentiate reproductive success, statistically, new genetic traits would diffuse to the entire population. HeartOfGold 10:15, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
HeartOf Gold, you are forgetting these
allopatric speciation - is when a population splits into two geographically isolated allopatric populations then undergo genotypic and/or phenotypic divergence as they become subjected to dissimilar selective pressures or they independently undergo genetic drift.
peripatric speciation - is when new species are formed in isolated, small peripheral populations which are prevented from exchanging genes with the main population.
parapatric speciation - is when the zones of two diverging populations are separate but do overlap.
sympatric speciation- is when species diverge while inhabiting the same place.
These are the accepted causes for differentiation within a populations. Thus reducing the diffusion of genetic traits into a population.--TimS 10:37, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
Sorry, I meant to say theoretically (and mathematically), new genetic traits would diffuse to the entire population in the absence of differential reproductive success. (E.g., within a geographically isolated population, and without differential reproductive success, genetic drift would cause the new genes to diffuse throughout the population over the course of generations, much like molecules of perfume diffusing in sealed chamber, whether the new traits were beneficial, benign, or detrimental.) Of course, the real world often diverges from theoretical assumptions, and since differential reproductive success actually occurs, and populations are seperated or otherwise marginalized, gene diffusion is not so cut and dry, as you point out TimS. HeartOfGold 22:15, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

Version 2: The biological Theory of Evolution is the hypothesis that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via synergistic processes of selective pressures, genetic mutation, and differential reproductive success. Competition for finite resources, coupled with usually exponential population growth lead to a struggle for survival. Over time, random genetic mutations also occur, sometimes leading to traits that result in a reproductive advantage, such as longer life, ability to exploit resources and attract mates, etc. Consequently, some individuals with beneficial adaptations leave disproportionately large numbers of descendants, and others disproportionately small or none. Inheritable mutations create new subpopulations, which, over time, diverge, as individuals with different groups of mutations successfully exploit different niches, and further mutations occur within those subpopulations. According to the "theory of evolution", these processes lead to the formation of new species, families, classes, and even kingdoms. Selective pressures include sexual selection (e.g., see peafowl), artificial selection (e.g., see dog bredding), and natural selection.

  • Support: Mentions selective pressures, genetic mutation, and differential reproductive success. Identifies selective pressures HeartOfGold 10:15, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

I believe it would be very difficult for the theory of evolution to be summed up into one paragraph and still meet the needs listed here. The theory has so many avenues that explain the mechanisms that people criticize most often when debating the theory. To try to provide a concise description of the theory we would have to make assumptions of the knowledge base of the reader. This is one of the reasons why the theory of evolution is not taught to it's entirety in our secondary school systems, as a lot of the theory relies on the understanding of higher level biological sciences to explain the mechanisms in a way that is concise. Perhaps a total restructuring of the page that could list the different mechanisms would be advisable. Perhaps an outline would help?--TimS 10:44, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

Good points. I don't know what the right balance is, either. I'll give it some thought. HeartOfGold 14:49, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I don't see the point of this. Young earth creationist do believe in speciation and I believe the believe in more rapid speciation than evolutionist (see: Young earth creationism ). Conservative 19:30, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I'll read the article. I am guessing my problem with speciation is ultimately an issue of semantics. HeartOfGold 22:15, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
I like version 2, but you need to strike the "hypothesis" language, and the repeat of "theory of evolution", and the repetition makes it sound like the definer doubts it, but is just saying it because the theory says it. I realise you do, but that isn't a part of a definition. How about:

Version 2B The biological Theory of Evolution states that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via synergistic processes of selective pressures, genetic mutation, and differential reproductive success. Competition for finite resources, coupled with usually exponential population growth lead to a struggle for survival. Over time, random genetic mutations also occur, sometimes leading to traits that result in a reproductive advantage, such as longer life, ability to exploit resources and attract mates, etc. Consequently, some individuals with beneficial adaptations leave disproportionately large numbers of descendants, and others disproportionately small or none. Inheritable mutations create new subpopulations, which, over time, diverge, as individuals with different groups of mutations successfully exploit different niches, and further mutations occur within those subpopulations. These processes lead to the formation of new species, families, classes, and even kingdoms. Selective pressures include sexual selection (e.g., see peafowl), artificial selection (e.g., see dog breeding), and natural selection.

As for how nice it would be to have more than a paragraph to define something, that would normally be the purpose of the article. Unfortunately, it has been decreed that the article won't be about evolution, but is instead a place for creationist objections to evolution.Kww 20:45, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
  • Oppose: 2B states aspects of the theory as though they were universally accepted facts. While 99% of biologists probably consider common descent fact, on par with the Law of gravity, I think it is important to emphasize, especially on some of the more fantastic claims of evolution, that this is according to the theory of evolution. The word hypothesis is necessary to show that the broad theory of evolution is a tenative explanation (unlike underlying theories such as selection and genetics, which have a much stronger scientific basis.). However, if other conservatives want to strike the clarifications, I won't object (but I will disagree). HeartOfGold 22:15, 14 May 2007 (EDT) P.S. 99% of alchemists probably thought they could turn lead into gold. And even very smart men can dable in alchemy (e.g., Newton). HeartOfGold 22:23, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
First, the Theory of Evolution has an extremely broad consensus: there are no competing scientific theories at this date, and it is not a "tentative" explanation: it is, as you say, the one accepted by 99% of biologists. Second, it is a definition. A definition doesn't make value judgements about the thing defined, it simply defines it. Third, a theory cannot be a hypothesis. Doesn't matter whether you believe the theory or not, theories and hypotheses are different things. Kww 22:34, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
Just adding an example: if I were defining Young Earth Creationism, I would say something like: "Young Earth Creationism holds that the contents of the Bible are literally true. The earth was created in 7 days by God, in the precise order described in Genesis, and man was created on the 6th day. The Naochian Flood reformed the face of the earth, and most observed geologic features have been formed and shaped by the forces of the floodwaters released." You have probably guessed from discussions with me that I don't believe that to be true, but my definition doesn't reveal that.Kww 22:42, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
kww, one thing you forgot to mention regarding that consensus you mentioned: "When discussing organic evolution the only point of agreement seems to be: "It happened." Thereafter, there is little consensus, which at first sight must seem rather odd." (Conway Morris, Simon [palaeontologist, Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge University, UK], "Evolution: Bringing Molecules into the Fold," Cell, Vol. 100, pp.1-11, January 7, 2000, p.11) Conservative 22:56, 14 May 2007 (EDT)
kww, thanks for your example. This is conservapedia, however, not conservadictionary. Even so, your point on value judgements is fair. That being said, whether conservapedia considers the scientific/biological POV as the "correct POV" seems to be one source of our disagreements. An objective article on the theory of evolution requires an objective POV, that is, a disinterested POV, in my opinion. The theory of evolution is, to my knowledge, not a scientific theory in the Popper sense (not falsifiable, therefore not scientific). But, as Popper pointed out, and as I agree, many evolutionary theories are scientific. But, to the extent that the theory of evolution is not scientific, using the word hypothesis is overly generous. Perhaps we should change it to metaphysical postulate. Theories or hypotheses that are not falsifiable are not scientific. Popper has it right, and in an article about the theory of evolution that is widely promoted as being scientific, using the analysis of a renowed philosopher of science is entirely appropriate. HeartOfGold 00:16, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

Version 3: The biological Theory of Evolution is the metaphysical postulate that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via synergistic processes of selective pressures, genetic mutation, and differential reproductive success. Competition for finite resources, coupled with usually exponential population growth lead to a struggle for survival. Over time, random genetic mutations also occur, sometimes leading to traits that result in a reproductive advantage, such as longer life, ability to exploit resources and attract mates, etc. Consequently, some individuals with beneficial adaptations leave disproportionately large numbers of descendants, and others disproportionately small or none. Inheritable mutations create new subpopulations, which, over time, diverge, as individuals with different groups of mutations successfully exploit different niches, and further mutations occur within those subpopulations. According to the "theory of evolution", these processes lead to the formation of new species, families, classes, and even kingdoms. Selective pressures include sexual selection (e.g., see peafowl), artificial selection (e.g., see dog bredding), and natural selection.


  • Support: Per kww/HeartOfGold conversation, hypotheses is not the right word. HeartOfGold 00:22, 15 May 2007 (EDT)
It's truly sad that you won't even provide a straightforward definition.Kww 00:33, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

Version 4 (from 2B) The biological Theory of Evolution states that all organisms descended from a common ancestor via synergistic processes of selective pressures, genetic mutation, and differential reproductive success. Competition for finite resources, coupled with usually exponential population growth lead to a struggle for survival. Over time, random genetic mutations also occur that can generate anatomical, behavioural and biochemical changes in the organisms that carry them. Some of these genetic mutations will result in reproductive advantage, such as longer life, ability to exploit resources, attract mates or deal with changing environmental variables. Organisms that carry these beneficial mutations will, on average, leave disproportionately large numbers of descendants who will also carry the mutations meaning the phenotypic changes wrought by them will spread through the population. Occasionally populations will break into reproductively isolated sub-populations (most commonly due to geographic barriers to dispersal). Because reproductively isolated populations no longer share newly arising mutations the process of adaptation described above and of genetic drift will lead to phenotypic changes in each population. When two sub-populations become so distinct they can no longer interbreed they are considered different species. Repeated splitting into new species has given rise to the higher taxonomic ranks

Hi all, thought I'd put a little note at the bottom of this but apparently didn't hit save. Just wanted to say I like most of what's above but wanted to make it clear that speciation isn't necesarily driven by selection and that the genetic changes in populations lead to 'whole organism' changes. Feel free to rip this to pieces or hybridise it into other suggestions --Igor nz 22:31, 15 May 2007 (EDT)
  • Oppose: While this certainly contains some improvements worth serious consideration, and while some of your additions are worth keeping, the lead should summarize the article. I assume that the article will contain much conservative and/or objective POV regarding which aspects of the theory of evolution (specifically, common descent) are not scientific. While I do realize and understand (and it does warrant mention in the article) that the vast majority of biologists probably consider common descent to be a scientific theory, I do not think conservapedia is oblidged to take the biologist's point of view in an article on a biological theory that is often vociferously defended as being scientific by evolutionists. Mind you, I am not arguing that the "biological-science" POV should be suppressed, but it should be described objectively, using criteria established by philosophers of science such as Popper. Also, of course, other criticisms should be included in such a conservapedia article, viz., that of theologians, creationists, intelligent designers, and others of interest to conservapedia customers. If conservapedia customers want a purely secular and biological POV article on this subject, they would not be at conservapedia.

Tenative proposed rough outline:

1. Lead (summarizes the article as well as the theory)
2. Components of theory, presented using evidence and an objective philosophy of science POV, and, as appropriate, from the biological science POV, being labled as such when this POV is disputed by other notables.
2.A. Genetics and heredity, and random genetic mutations
2.B. Differential Reproductive success, environmental niches
2.C. Time scale on which evolution occurs
2.D. Speciation (definitions)
2.E. Evidence (e.g., genetic research, fossil record, field observations, etc.)
2.F History, modern synthesis, etc., with links to appropriate articles
3. Criticisms, application, and influences
3.A Scientific (including arguments made by non-scientists)
3.B That of intelligent designers
3.C That of Creationists
3.D That of devout christians
3.E That of other world religions
3.F Philosophical
3.F eugenics, social darwinism, communism (summaries linking to main articles)
4. Conclusion

This of course is very rough, without my doing detailed research in the recent past. Consequently, it is highly subject to change. However, my view is that while we should explain what the theory of evolution is, we should do it with a conservative and objective POV, in order to equip and inform young minds of the true nature of the theory--its application, evidence, strengthes, and weaknesses. While I do believe in creation, I do not call my beliefs scientific. Many aspects of evolutionary theory are perfectly valid scientifically, some others less so. In many articles, books, etc., where evolutionary apolgetics are attempted, evolution is presented as being on par with the law of gravity, while failing to distinguish and differentiate which aspects of evolution are more generally corroborated, and which aspects are merely a metaphysical story to fit gaps in observations. Conservapedia has a duty, in my opinion, to be more objective. HeartOfGold 22:11, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

That would of course be the sensible thing to do but the student panel has decided that the 'evolution' page isn't going to be presented in good faith. Oh, and I don't think we should section 3.F unless it's called "wrong headed applications of a scientific theory in fields that it doesn't belong" ;) --Igor nz 22:37, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

Version 4 is much better than 3. I would strike "most commonly by geographic isolation", because there are other sources, and I don't think we have the knowledge to rank them in frequency order. I also liked the language "Inheritable mutations create new subpopulations, which, over time, diverge, as individuals with different groups of mutations successfully exploit different niches, and further mutations occur within those subpopulations." That is the heart of speciation. That's what the fruitflies that HoG scorn did, and Darwin's finches did, and what most observed speciations have been driven by.

I'm ok with striking the geographical isolation bit but don't like the mutations make populations bit. It's actually not true for the overwhelming majority of speciation events that have been studie. Even Darwin's finches arose on the different islands of the Galapagos then diverged due to character displacement when they spread out and had to compete with each other. --Igor nz 20:27, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

You and I disagree on what 'more objective' means, HoG, but I think we both agree that the article as it stands isn't. That is why I really want to get at least one paragraph of pure definition in there. If Conservative insists on writing an article on creationism, there should be at least one straightforward paragraph stating what the theory is that gets him into such a frenzy of denial.Kww 08:12, 16 May 2007 (EDT)

I can agree that such a paragraph should exist. I am not a fan of endless paragraphs with alternating dueling sentences. But the lead should summarize the article. HeartOfGold 09:34, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
I thought the task was to provide a concise summary of the theory of evolution. Unfortunately, a summary of this article has very little to do with evolution.Kww 10:49, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
Again, the lead should summarise the article and the article should say something (anything) about evolution but that's not what the student panel want. So I guess where stuck with trying to present some facts up front then having Conservatives wierd article follow it --Igor nz 20:27, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
I am pretty sure we will be able to come to a compromise where the article does describe the theory of evolution in an objective manner, also describes sundry criticisms without dueling sentences, and where the lead summarizes the article (and not just the theory). I think Kww will appreciate one or two out of three of these points. HeartOfGold 01:43, 18 May 2007 (EDT)
You have some kind of juicy dirt to blackmail Conservative with? Kww 10:07, 18 May 2007 (EDT)
I object to your suggestion. Please consider retracting it.
I believe that a better job can be done, and I believe Conservative has the best interest of conservapedia in mind. My confidence stems from my esteem for Conservative and confidence that a credible, objective/conservative treatment on this subject can be done. HeartOfGold 12:32, 18 May 2007 (EDT)
Heartofgold, You asked me to chime in. I think the article doesn't need a major revision which you seem to be proposing. In short, I agree with the panel. Conservative 12:47, 18 May 2007 (EDT)
Okay. This presents a problem. Kww, Igor nz, and other interested persons, if you can agree to let the article have what I term an objective treatment of the subject (I recognize that you do not think it is objective), let's start a TOE article on a sub-page of my or your user page, and submit it for review to the student panel. I still have confidence that this article can be improved upon. I anticipate it will take a few months. Please keep in mind that this is a conservative encyclopedia, and if the article appears to be a variant of the wikipedia article, we will have failed. Recognize that if you are an evolutionist (read: strong advocate of the complete theory), that you will not be happy with the result, but you may be content with aspects of the result. HeartOfGold 12:57, 18 May 2007 (EDT)
All other efforts to improve this article have been overwritten by Conservative, who continued to edit the article while it was locked for submission to the panel, and continues to edit it to this day. If you can get an agreement from Conservative to not interfere with the process, and to abide by the results of the process, fine. Otherwise, it's a lot of work which will simply be immediately reverted. Kww 13:29, 18 May 2007 (EDT)

<unindent>If Conservative has carte blanche with the exisiting article, I don't think he will want to participate in an alternative submission. If you don't want to try, that is your decision. The article would have to reflect conservapedia values, be well written, well researched, etc. If at that point it is not accepted, I would be dismayed, but I think it is worth the effort. If you're here just to complain, I'd suggest finding other things to do. HeartOfGold 13:49, 18 May 2007 (EDT)

I would love to participate. I didn't ask him to agree to participate, I asked him to agree not to interfere, and to abide by the results. You may have a lot of respect for him, but he is notable as being the only admin to have the abuse complaints against him archived ( http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservapedia:Sysop_and_Admin_Abuse/Conservative/Archive_1 )because there were so many. It makes it difficult to trust him. Kww 14:04, 18 May 2007 (EDT)

Let's work on an article to submit to the panel

Let's work on an article to submit to the student panal. TenativeTOE. Please see the talk page before adding, subtracting, and/or reorganizing. HeartOfGold 13:02, 18 May 2007 (EDT)

Locking the Page to prevent removal of POV

Locking the page to prevent re-editing, real brave. And even if 13% of Americans believe in evolution doesn't make it false. Truth isn't a popularity contest. --DemocraticSocialist 15:15, 22 May 2007 (EDT)

Spelling Error

I've noticed that there are numerous ocassions where the wiki links are set up as [[anomoly|anomalies]].. The proper spelling of the word is anomaly. I'm trying to correct this where we can so we can create an article for it with the proper spelling, but I obviously can't touch it here. --Colest 14:45, 24 May 2007 (EDT)

It is also mispelled in Geology, Triassic, and Young Earth Creationism. --Colest 14:50, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
All fixed. Philip J. Rayment 22:05, 24 May 2007 (EDT)

Darwin's Finches

The text is a bit misleading. On the Galapagos Islands he didn't know the birds were all finches until after he got back from the voyage, also he was only there for a couple of weeks. While the finch beaks are mentioned in The Voyage Of The Beagle it was all done with hindsight. It doesn't change the overall theory/disputation but chronologically it is incorrect. Catherine 13:25, 27 May 2007 (EDT)

Continuation of Main Page discussion

Replying to this discussion on the Main Page discussion page...

First, JohnSmith and Sterephile were attempting to refute Andy (Aschlafly)'s objection to the 99.84% figure by quoting a different statistic. I for one accept that the vast majority of scientists support evolution, and I didn't see Andy disagreeing with that point. So demonstrating that the vast majority support evolution is not addressing the issue in question, which was the 99.84% figure.

"...trombone players ... do not compare in terms of authority to scientists who decide whether or not evolution occurs." This presupposes that scientists do have such authority. The issue with evolution is really about whether or not all of life has descended from an original living cell. That is, it is about whether or not evolution has occurred, not whether it occurs. Thus it is a matter of history, not science, so perhaps the scientists have no more authority here than trombone players.

"Evolution, while not complete, is stil the best most people have come up with regarding how it is that organisms seem to have changed over time." That is a matter of opinion, so adds nothing to the argument.

"Secondly, to say that in order to make you believe in evolution that we would first need to prove that God doesn't exist would fairly well remove most of its scientific creedence." That assumes it has any to start with.

"God, after all, is not a being hypothesized by scientists...". No, nobody is claiming that scientists made God up. Your point?

"...who's concept is over and over revamped to fit our observations...". The concept of God is revamped???

"...but rather a theological being who's existence isn't dependent upon evidence as much as faith...". God's existence does not depend on either evidence of faith. He simply exists. But what I think you are getting at, that Christians rely on faith rather than evidence, is simply an anti-Christian fallacy; biblical faith is based on evidence.

"Scientifically, there is no way to falsify his existence...". True, but the same applies for evolution.

Not true. Evolution is testable in a lab, in a manner that it can be disproved if the proper observations were made. Problem is, all of the observations so far have supported it. --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 01:33, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
As far as evolution being testable is concerned, I will agree that some details of the hypothesis are falsifiable (but the same applies to creation), but the hypothesis itself is not. I notice that you didn't respond to my next point and the arguments in the link there (and see also falsifiability of evolution). The claim that "all" of the observations have supported it is arrant nonsense. Philip J. Rayment 02:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)

"...so without a scientific way to do that, nobody could logically and scientifically falsify creationism either.". See user:Philip J. Rayment/Creationism for an answer to that.

"Either way, creationism shouldn't have to rely on the existence of a higher power, as there is no concensus as to who's god is real, or whether one even exist's.". That sentence doesn't make sense.

"God cannot be evidence for a scientific theory because he's not something you can observe...". I can't observe electricity either, but I can see its effects, just as I can see God's effects.

Electricity is visible as lightning, lightbulbs, etc. --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 01:33, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
You are not seeing the electricity itself, but its effects (as I said) on heating the elements or ionising the gases. Another example I could have chosen is the wind. Can you see the wind? Philip J. Rayment 02:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
You can see the effects of wind on trees, the water, and anything that is flexible. Can you demonstrate that God causes the effects you are seeing? --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 12:15, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I can demonstrate some effects for which God is the most likely explanation, if not the only credible explanation. One being the universe itself. For a couple of reasons, the universe—i.e. all of natural existence—must have had a beginning, and logically the only thing that can be the cause of all that is natural is something supernatural. Philip J. Rayment 11:36, 29 May 2007 (EDT)

"Discovery Institute, and a number of their predecessor creationist organizations have trotted out the list of scientists that "dissent from Darwinism" as if it had some factual importance.". Wrong. These lists are "trotted out" to refute the anti-creationist lie that all scientists believe in evolution. It is the anti-creationists who started this "argument by authority", and the creationists and ID promoters are simply refuting it.

"The point of the Steve's list is two-fold: First, it points out the absurdity of suggesting that such a list (such as the dissent from Darwinism) has any effect on the actual validity of the Theory of Evolution.". So it is a straw-man argument that they are attacking (see my previous point). Attacking a straw-man argument is not a valid way to argue.

More attacking an ad populum argument with another ad populum argument. --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 01:33, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Wrong, as I've already explained and you have not pointed out where I was wrong. Philip J. Rayment 02:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)

"Also, Karajou, one need not prove that God doesn't exist in order to say that the ToE is valid.". Logically, he is correct, given certain assumptions. That is, if creation makes more sense than evolution (as I believe), then the only way that evolution makes more sense is if the creation model is ruled out by proving that God doesn't exist.

"As I'm sure you're aware, there are a great many theistic evolutionists, and acceptance of the ToE is not incompatible with belief in God.". The theory of evolution is incompatible with belief in the God of the Bible. To make "god" compatible with evolution, one has to propose a different god to the One described in the Bible.

"one would imagine that if the field were restricted to biologists only, the numbers would probably go up since "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.". Which is itself wrong, and has been admitted to being wrong by evolutionists.

"...the ToE isn't a liberal belief, it's science.". When one makes an argument, one should build the argument on points that both sides agree on. Yet here you are building your argument on a point that is itself disputed.

"My frustration comes up when people try to push their theology as a legitimate scientific alternative to the ToE...". My frustration comes when people try to push their religious views (i.e. atheistic views such as evolution) as legitimate science.

That would be redefining "atheism", which means lack of religion. Atheism is not a religion, but a philosophy. And evolution is certainly legitimate; ask those 99.84% of scientists for peer-reviewed articles in highly-respected journals which contain piles of data, all of which support evolution and disprove creationism. --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 01:33, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Atheism is not "lack of religion", but a belief in "no god" (a- = no, theos = god, -ism = belief). Atheism is a religion by some definitions of the word (the ones that are synonymous with "worldview" or "philosophy"), particularly the ones that aren't self-serving. Andy has questioned the 99.84%, correctly as it seems, but I can point you to peer-reviewed articles which support creation and "disprove" evolution. And it's not valid to contrast "evolution" (the idea) with "creationism" (the belief in the idea). Rather, it's a dishonest anti-creationist tactic to "poison the well". Philip J. Rayment 02:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I'd like to see on of those, which has been published in a credible journal. --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 12:15, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Define "credible" in a way that is not self-serving. Philip J. Rayment 11:36, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
Obviously, I won't consider an article out of "Creationist Science Weekly" to be "credible", because they specifically cater to attempting to find scientific evidence to support an immovable and set-in-stone conclusion. You are welcome to link me to some of their articles, but I will do no more than attempt to identify a logical flaw, and undoubtedly find one. Why don't we say any journal that is generally considered by most of the scientists in a given field to be credible. EJHG, Cell, Trends in Genetics, Journal of Natural History, etc. --Ĥøĵĭmåçħôńğtalk 23:42, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
It is clear that you have a closed mind on this, because you have already decided before seeing any evidence that the evidence is to be discounted because (a) you have decided that it will be designed to support the conclusion (as if evolutionists don't do that), and (b) you know that any such article I point you to must have a logical flaw.
So what's the point of continuing to discuss this, if you have already made up your mind before seeing the evidence?
And while you are attempting to extricate yourself from that hole you dug yourself, perhaps you could explain why a creationist writing a paper that shows that a radiometric date on a rock is x millions of years has that conclusion (which he doesn't agree with) "immovable and set in stone". In other words, why did it have to come out to specifically x million years and not y million years?
How about the Journal of Creation, which is "generally considered by most of the scientists in the field (creationism) to be credible"? Or are you going to find an excuse to change your criterion?
Philip J. Rayment 02:46, 31 May 2007 (EDT)

"...or they misrepresent the ToE for the purpose of denigrating it.". Examples? Or is that a throwaway line?

"Incidentally, I'm not actually pushing the ToE in any of the above repartee.". Representing it as science doesn't count?

"I've been pointing out that although the methodology used to arrive at that number is not valid, that the fundamental concept that Hoji is presenting (that the overwhelming majority of scientists accept the ToE) is correct.". But where was that "fundamental concept" denied? You are arguing for something that is not in dispute, as a reply to an objection that you agree with! Perhaps you had an agenda to push instead of just refuting a claim that was made?

Philip J. Rayment 23:46, 27 May 2007 (EDT)

"...trombone players ... do not compare in terms of authority to scientists who decide whether or not evolution occurs." This presupposes that scientists do have such authority. The issue with evolution is really about whether or not all of life has descended from an original living cell. That is, it is about whether or not evolution has occurred, not whether it occurs. Thus it is a matter of history, not science, so perhaps the scientists have no more authority here than trombone players.
Are you seriously claiming that the past leaves no evidence that can be examined by scientific means? Kww 00:24, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
No, I'm not claiming that science can't be used to throw some light on the history; I'm claiming that the past is not subject to the scientific tools of observation, repeatability, and measurability. And I'm claiming that it being a matter of history, the question is not what could have happened (for which belief in God or otherwise is a prerequisite), but about what did happen (for which a belief in God is not a prerequisite, but a possible conclusion). Philip J. Rayment 02:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I'm sorry. Usually I find myself understanding you, but violently disagreeing with you. This time, I don't even understand you. Why is a belief in a deity necessary to understand what could have happened, but not for investigating what did happen?
Kww 07:25, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I've not actually used that argument before, so I've had no practice at wording it clearly.
What I'm getting at, is that if you want to figure out what could have happened, you need to ask, "in what circumstances", or "given what conditions". So if you want to ask how life could have come to be, you need to ask "is God allowed in the explanation?".
But if you are asking what did happen, all you need to ascertain, in theory, is what actually happened, not what could have happened. As such, no particular prerequisites regarding conditions or circumstances are required. You could, in effect, say, "regardless of whether or not we believe in God, we have learnt that such-and-such actually occurred". We could then go a further step and argue, "Because we know such-and-such happened, that proves/suggest/supports/ that God does (or does not) exist. In other words, God's existence might be a prerequisite for knowing if something could happen, but His existence might be a deduction from the evidence once we know what did happen.
All of that assumes, of course, that we can ascertain what did happen without resorting to working out what could have happened in the process. And that is part of the problem with the whole issue. Evolutionists are trying to figure out what did happen partly by working out what could have happened, but exclude God from consideration in the latter case.
Philip J. Rayment 09:50, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
But if one continuously investigates what happened, any supernatural miracles would stand out as unexplainable. Once one has investigated all possible natural avenues, the supernatural is all that is left. So far, however, natural avenues have gone a long way towards explaining things, and no supernatural explanations have been needed. I think that that is really the crux of the creationist's problem: for most things that they want to give deities credit for, rational, natural explanations have been found. Scientists aren't willing to state that the currently explained problems are not just unexplained, but inexplicable. Give them enough time, though, and if there truly have been miraculous occurences in the past, at least one of them will be identified as such. Hasn't been yet, though. Even if you are willing to take Behe's and Dembski's stuff at face value, the deity is reduced to something that could make an initial virus-like thingamob and tinker with it every few hundred million years or so. Not something to inspire the masses into religious frenzy.
Personally, I don't understand why so many Christians get upset with the big bang (not that it is a part of evolutionary theory, but it is frequently confused with it by creationists). It is the one theory that shows the universe as having a zero point ... a spot where no amount of investigation can determine what, if anything, went before, and what, if anything, caused it. If the universe is a created thing, that is exactly what I would expect to find. I can laugh at impossibly big boats full of animals and gardens with talking snakes, but when someone says that they believe that an outside force created the universe with some amount of control over what would happen in that universe, I can't tell them that their belief is impossible, or contradicted by science. It just isn't supported by science, which is a completely different thing. Kww 10:54, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
Supernatural miracles would stand out as unexplainable, except by invoking the supernatural.
"So far, however, natural avenues have gone a long way towards explaining things, and no supernatural explanations have been needed.". Isn't that really a subtle self-contradiction? How can you say that "no supernatural explanations have been needed", when, in the same sentence, it is implicitly admitted that not everything has been explained by natural processes? And this is especially the case given that some things are unexplained not simply because nobody has yet tried to explain them, but despite extensive efforts to explain them (the origin of life, for example).
"...for most things that they want to give deities credit for, rational, natural explanations have been found.". And yet there remain some key issues for which natural explanations have not been found, such as the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of all the genetic information. And keep in mind that creationists don't claim that everything requires a supernatural explanation, so the fact that "most" things might have a natural explanation might actually be totally consistent with a creationists view that "most" things have a natural explanation, but that some things don't. In other words, the creationist prediction that some things will require a supernatural explanation is more consistent with the evidence than the naturalist view that everything will have a natural explanation. But I'm not saying that the only evidence in favour of the existence of God is events that can't be explained naturally. I'd go further and say that any event that is best explained supernaturally is evidence of God's existence, but your comment that "rational explanations have been found" presumes that the mere existence of an explanation renders God unnecessary. The real question is whether that explanation is (a) true, and (b) a better explanation than the alternative.
"Give them enough time, though, and if there truly have been miraculous occurences in the past, at least one of them will be identified as such. Hasn't been yet, though". Despite the principle that I explained earlier, actually demonstrating a miracle is scientifically impossible unless you were there observing and measuring as it happened, and even then you don't have repeatability. Of course the same problem exists for evolutionary explanations, so that in itself is not reason to reject the creation/miracle idea. But even so, we effectively can identify some, such as the Big Bang and the origin of life, because natural explanations are totally inadequate.
"Even if you are willing to take Behe's and Dembski's stuff at face value, the deity is reduced to something that could make an initial virus-like thingamob and tinker with it every few hundred million years or so. Not something to inspire the masses into religious frenzy.". Yeah, well I'm a Biblical creationist, not an Intelligent Design movement supporter.
"Personally, I don't understand why so many Christians get upset with the big bang...". Because it is contradictory to the historical record of the Bible.
"...not that it is a part of evolutionary theory, but it is frequently confused with it by creationists...". The term "evolution" is used in contexts other than just biological evolution. "The evolution of the stars", for example, is a term that is not uncommon.
"I can laugh at impossibly big boats full of animals...". Yet academic studies have shown not only that such a boat was possible, but about the best possible design.
"...and gardens with talking snakes...". And I've yet to have a bibliosceptic actually be able to point out to me where in the Bible it says that snakes talk.
"...I can't tell them that their belief is impossible, or contradicted by science. It just isn't supported by science, which is a completely different thing.'. And yet so many anti-creationists effectively do exactly that (tell people that science has proved the Bible wrong).
Philip J. Rayment 11:28, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
"I can laugh at impossibly big boats full of animals...". Yet academic studies have shown not only that such a boat was possible, but about the best possible design.
Do you write your own material? Kww 11:42, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
I didn't copy and paste it from elsewhere, if that's what you mean. Or are you simply making fun of something because you've no better response? Philip J. Rayment 11:36, 29 May 2007 (EDT)

Africangenesis contribs.

I've just arrived from wikipedia, and will be focusing on things other than evolution at this time. But I thought I would cut and paste some ideas and references I had for that article that were not embraced, and that I hope can form the basis for some text here in the future. It is all only my composition with no element from anyone else over there. Feel free to adopt what you please. Hope these still make sense outside of that context. --Africangenesis 07:27, 1 June 2007 (EDT)

Proposed new non-sterile introduction

For context see the discussion under robustness above. This is an initial cut at a replacement or prior placement ahead of the first few lines:

  • "Evolution is the process by which one or a few ancestral life forms became the diversity we see today and in the fossil record. Life's robustness in maintaining it's internal state and reproducing in the face of genetic mutation and external environmental change give it the property of evolvability."

I don't think "robustness" is the type of term one would expect as the title in a separate article. It is too nonspecific, and its use as a term of art in evolution is not generally familiar. Therefore I propose that both it and "evolvability" link to later sections in this article, where they are expanded upon a bit. This is just a first cut, suggestions are welcome.--Africangenesis 18:32, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Robustness

I propose that there be a "Robustness" section before even genetic drift as a mechanism of evolution. "Robustness" subsumes the concepts of redundancy and overlapping function, homeostasis, developmental homeostasis, canalization and niche reduction. Robustness enables evolvability.

  • "All living things are remarkably complex, yet their DNA is unstable, undergoing countless random mutations over generations. Despite this instability, most animals do not grow two heads or die, plants continue to thrive, and bacteria continue to divide. Robustness and Evolvability in Living Systems tackles this perplexing paradox. The book explores why genetic changes do not cause organisms to fail catastrophically and how evolution shapes organisms' robustness."[2]
  • "That physiological homeostasis is essentially the fundamental adaptation was recognized even before the term was coined, for, as Claude Bernard (quoted from Haldane,1932) stated three-quarters of a century ago, 'all the vital mechan­sms, varied as they are, have only one object, that of preserving constant the conditions of life in the internal environment'."[3]
  • "Homeostatic devices that stabilize an individual's reproductive performance have high selective value; the population benefits from having a heterogeneous genetic composition even beneath an apparently uniform phenotype. Thus Lerner emphasized the very great importance in evolution of "buffered and balanced genotypes, integrated genepools, and coadaptation.""[4]
  • "In a rapidly fluctuating environment, organisms evolve the flexibility to cope with variation within an individual lifetime; in moderately variable environments, populations evolve the ability to evolve rapidly; and in fairly constant environments, populations evolve robustness against the adverse effects of mutation." "When environmental fluctuations are rare, populations may experience extended epochs of directional selection and thus have sufficient time to achieve genetic robustness for any given state. Immediately following an environmental shift, however, such populations may pass through transitional periods of within-individual or between-generation plasticity before completely losing the previously favored phenotype in favor of a currently favored phenotype. This evolutionary transformation—from a trait that is acquired through phenotypic plasticity to a genetically determined version of the same trait—is known as the Baldwin Effect"[5]
  • "Many amphibian and reptile taxa experience dramatic shifts in their environment through development, essentially having to function in different niches. For instance, the komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) begins life as an arboreal predator of small insects, progressively moves onto larger insects, small vertebrates and eggs, then larger vertebrates and eventually fills a terrestrial large predator/scavenger niche (Auffenberg, 1981). Mutations providing a potential fitness advantage at any point along this continuum may be deleterious somewhere else during growth. This effect is less in mammals and birds because they typically feed their young until they can occupy the adult niche." "Compared with other vertebrates, mammals and birds are also notable for an increased emphasis on homeostasis, particularly endothermy (Ruben, 1995), so stabilising internal biochemical and physiological conditions. Both effects, reducing the range of niches during development and stabilising internal conditions, should enhance morphological evolvability. Indeed, while mammals and birds have diversified into widely different niches and morphologies from their ancestors that shared the planet with dinosaurs 65 million years ago, amphibians, turtles, lepidosaurs (snakes and lizards) and crocodilians typically have not (Benton, 1993). " [6][7]
  • "A mechanism for `evolvability'? We have provided what is, to our knowledge, the ®rst evidence for an explicit molecular mechanism that assists the process of evolutionary change in response to the environment. We suggest that in nature, transient decreases in Hsp90 levels resulting from its titration by stress-damaged proteins could uncover morphological variants for selection to act upon....Evolutionary models must encompass a dichotomy of stasis and change. Evolution exploits genetic differences between individuals in order to remodel developmental programs, yet development is generally robust to individual genetic differences and environmental perturbations. Theoretical models describe how developmental homeostasis is developed and why it is maintained, as well as how it could be disrupted so that evolutionary change can occur"[8][9]

The robustness mechanism that I think I had not appreciated before was niche reduction. The most exemplary of this is parental care. Think of all the mutations which are developmentally deleterious, yet can be tolerated because of parental care, and are advantageous to the adult. Think of all the mutations that made the human baby this slow, defenseless, sniveling, noisey predator attracting, relatively instinctless, large brained, empty headed little beast. Yet parental care allows that helpless large brain to develop into the most robust adaptation that evolution has yet devised. This was done through niche reduction. Mutations don't have to be developmentally stable in any niche other than that formed by the womb and parental care.

Robustness to mutation, and to the breaking of seemingly irreducable complexity appear to be the concepts that the ID adherants aren't familiar with, and which answers most of the issues they raise. --Africangenesis 12:09, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

I am not sure of the significance of this distinction, but I think it is clear that robustness, while technically not creating new alleles, is the key mechanism which allows their numbers to increase, e.g., "the population benefits from having a heterogeneous genetic composition even beneath an apparently uniform phenotype" Inherent in a lot of ID rhetoric is this idea that the well adapted organism is somehow perfect, so that any mutation must somehow be a deleterious deviation from that perfection. Robustness, not only protects fitness while harbouring a storehouse of alleles, but also protects evolution from ID perfectionist arguments. The enhanced evolvability enabled by robustness, may be evolution's most robust achievement. To paraphrase Jurrasic Park, "life has found a way".--Africangenesis 17:21, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
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