Denial of evolution

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by river-wind, Jul 23, 2007.

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  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Organisms live and die - they don't, themselves, evolve.

    Evolution is something that happens. According to Darwinian theory, no "purpose" is involved - there's nothing to have one, besides.
    Unnecessary, and without evidence. That doesn't mean impossible, of course.
     
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  3. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I have described a process. I see no agent influencing that process. Uou analogy of a croupier is misleading. A croupier is only an agent because he throws dice. He has no control over the outcome. Unlike dice, genes continue to come and go without the need for any outside interference. They behave in a certain way and that's it. If a random change happens to make an organism fitter than others, the responsible gene will gradually come to dominate the gene pool.

    If you find an agent in all this, that is fine by me but I still cannot see calling life, for example, an agent adds any explanatory value.. Just let's agree to disagree.

    Why not take it uo with someone who is better qualified than I am, to see if you get a more favourable response. I cannot see our discussion leading anywhere and, to be honest, I am beginning to find it all a bit tedious.

    PS your reference to organisms is muddying the water. I understood we wer talking about genes.
     
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  5. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    "
    Species live and die, so do genera. Guess what they do.
    No purpose is behind selection.

    Life evolves, though, not selection. What do you mean, life doesn't have purpose? It's evolving, isn't it?
    Why does biochemical evolution not look like chemical/thermodynamic evolution?

    A fire has purpose, it purposefully "consumes" things. Life does it too, the difference is it does it to its advantage, whereas a fire just burns it all, in an uncontrolled way.
    How come something that controls energy doesn't have purpose? Energy itself is "purposeful", because it changes things. Life changes things too, but in a controlled, advantageous way.
    At least that's what I learned.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
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  7. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    An organism is its genes. And enough other structure and function (a compartment) to keep them in.

    In Bio courses, an organism is usually understood to mean a genome. A particular living representative species, especially in microbiology, rather than a single "organism". But they then show you a diagram of a single one, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  8. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I'm fully aware of what you are saying. I have described the process; you tell me where ths agent is !
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    That is an anthropomorphic metaphor and is not science. Fire is a predictable chemical reaction to a definable set of conditions including temperature, pressure, percentage of oxygen in the vicinity, etc. A particular fire has a "purpose" if a human sets it deliberately. But to say that fires which occur naturally or accidentally have a purpose is to mistake the order in the natural universe for planning.

    For example, the probability of a forest fire occurring increases as the trees become denser and more dried underbrush accumulates. Fires occur as part of a cycle, in which chemicals locked in the plant tissue are redeposited in the soil and more sunlight reaches the forest floor, resulting in shorter, softer annual flora springing up, attracting different herbivorous animals, and ultimately creating a new ecosystem, as the fauna from the old forest migrate to a nearby younger one.

    This cycle generated a long-term steady state of grassland-woods-forest-fire in many regions of the earth. It was interrupted when humans began suppressing small forest fires. Gigantic swaths of forest grew unchecked, depleting their soil, reducing their biodiversity, and accumulating large quantities of dried underbrush. Eventually a fire starts that cannot be suppressed, and a large ecosystem is destroyed which cannot readily regenerate and from which the animals cannot easily flee to a nearby habitat.

    Humans are fond of saying, "Forest fires have a purpose and we are interfering with nature's plan."

    But this is anthropomorphism. "Nature" is nothing but the physical laws of the universe in action and its course in any area is completely directed by the conditions in that area. If we change the conditions we change the way nature responds. But nature has no "plan" or "purpose."
    That is a metaphorical way of analyzing the universe. It's fine if you recognize it as metaphor and may be useful to philosophers who are trying to understand the human spirit. But it is not useful to scientists who are trying to understand the natural universe.
     
  10. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    I don't see what a cell does with energy, charge and structure as metaphorical in the least, but as what is actually "going on" inside one of them.

    If you (the metaphorical) see agency, and the fact that life has changed the planet, and continues to, along with changing as well, as a metaphor, so be it.
     
  11. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    How about telling me where the agent is ? I have admitted I can find none
     
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    To the extent they "live and die" they don't evolve, and vice versa. You are confusing your classification system with the material it classifies.

    You miss a bet, here. If you want to introduce "purpose" somehow, selection is one of the places you can try best. Another would be constraint or structural bias in the mutational possibilities.

    It does. Or perhaps more clearly put the other way: chemical/thermodynamic evolution in simpler contexts can and sometime does follow Darwinian pattern, and when it does it often produces quite complex structures unspecified by the starting conditions.
     
  13. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    Excuse me? Species and genera "don't evolve". Can I hear that again?
    Species are related by having evolved within the same genus, from a presumed common ancestor. Are we talking about Darwin's theory or what?
     
  14. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    Right. I am being offhand with the agency "behind" selection.

    Evolution, in Darwinian terms is descent from common ancestry, and this principle presumably extends back to the evolution of eukaryotes, and then eventually invertebrates, vertebrates, etc. The current range is the current representation, of all the successful genomes, the ones that have diversified and found a "role" to play.
    Genes are the role, the individual organisms that represent individual life-cycles, keep the wheel turning. Selection pressures are what keeps them on their toes, as it were. Selection selects something, which is those individual genotypes (that have successfully replicated), for persistence.

    Life (the evolutionary) is persistence (of genomes, their maintenance, repair and alteration, of all the reactions mediated by enzymes, and the directed "flow" of energy).
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    To they extent they live and die, they don't evolve.

    That's not a complete or exhaustive extent, describing their nature -they are classifications, more or less arbitrary categories, and don't really live or die.

    They are classifications, categories - if genera die out, and are replaced by new genera of organisms in any manner, they themselves simply vanished - they only "evolved" (as genera) while the usefullness of the classification existed, while the species within the classification were changing into new species or becoming different somehow, and changing the nature of the genus without eliminating it. It's only metaphorically related to living and dying, on the one hand, or Darwinian evolution, on the other.

    Suppose, for example, that the recent hybridization of grosbeaks in North Ameica and new techniques of genetic comparison caused a reclassification of some bird species into two, rather than three, genera. Did the former genera Live ? Die ? Evolve ?
     
  16. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    Classification has little to do with what biological evolution does.

    It's more of a picture of the current (and past) distribution, following radiation, competition, co-evolution, and so-on.
    And selection/adaptation is the key, to understanding Darwinism, in any context.

    A species is just the current "genome". Homology explains molecular evolution, and subsequent parallel evolution. Different versions of genes and proteomes persist, because it gives a species a variability advantage (against "natural" selection). E.g. HIV resistance, malaria and a certain genetic "disease" that proves to be an advantage in the particular environment.
     
  17. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    You've already done it.
    If genes "behave in a certain way", that isn't behaviour, which is agency? Do you have a different version of what it means?
    Even though genes don't really 'do' anything, the agency is, of course, the lifeforms made out of cells.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    And so things like "genera" likewise have little to do with evolution - they certainly don't "evolve", in the Darwinian real-life sense we are discussing here.
     
  19. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    And again, confusing a name for something, or confusing species with some kind of "end result", is still the problem many have, I feel.
    Evolution means that organisms emerge, the fact they look like they do, and behave the way they do, is beside the point.

    Any argument about the agency of biological evolution is moot, as well.
    Life might not be able to predict the future, but it keeps trying to predict that it will survive and replicate, or exchange genetic information, and contribute to the stability of the genome (either by contributing to its variability, or by contributing "good" genes, in the current context), life appears because biological systems evolve.

    Bacteria can speciate rapidly because they retain the ability to present high numbers of individuals with a wider range of genotypes than more complex species. The principles of genomic variability and the eventual presentation of a "fitter" range of genotypes, is a straightforward enough idea. The keyword is eventual, it requires persistence.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  20. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    That strikes me as a vague answer, a kind of god of the gaps explanation.Are you suggesting that a lifeform is the agent of its own evolution ? As evolution is blind and without purpose, I would regard a lifeform as the carrier of material which can mutate rather than the agent of change.
     
  21. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    How does a lifeform carry this material? In some kind of container? And it just "mutates", all by itself?
    So genes are like "the ball", and a lifeform has to pass "the ball" on?
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  22. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, mutations just happen. I am unaware of evidence to show otherwise
     
  23. Vkothii Banned Banned

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    Ok, so an individual organism is just a container, or it's something that carries a container around, for no particular reason.??
     
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