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What's Wrong With Evolution? Answered

Right, for all the mud slinger fighting over the whole Religion/Christianity/Creationism vs. Aethiesm/Evolution/Big Bang forum war, here's a simple point/argument (note: for simplification purposes, the term "God" will apply to all religious belifs): Who says "God" didn't create evolution? Who says "God" didn't "create" the big bang? Aren't the similarities between "Let there be light" and "rapid expansion of energy (big bang, light)" a little to hard too ignore? Why does evolution have to be unholy? If the origonal spark of life was provided by "God", wouldn't the life changing and growing still be He/She/It's creation? Why the heck does it have to be six thousand years since the start of the world? I don't think "God" would really care to enlighten us with to much information to quickly, He/She/It would probobly just give us the basics and let us figure the rest out.
Bring it on Creation freaks and Evolution diehards, I'm ready for a good long argument with lots of substitute symbols _
rocketscientist2015
(Oh yah, I'm neutral)

EDIT

September 2008

Some how this got dragged up...
Anyways, my viewpoints are changed. The world was indeed created by a higher power. He is called The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and many, many years ago he got drunk and crashed into the primordial soup of the universe. He shapethed the Earth into form with His Noodly Appendages, and brought into exsistence Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Discussions

That is close to being the biggest pile of ignorance I have ever seen.

Ugh why did you have to bump this topic. Can someone just delete this stupid thread. Now theres gonna be another big argument about religion, beliefs, feeding the trolls and another big pile of crap that any sane person wouldnt care about.

Written by someone with little understanding of modern physics, no understanding of probability and statistics (you trivially cannot assert a post hoc probability for an event that has already happened), and a terrific ability to argue circularly. This must be where you learned your beliefs.

Something that has already happened obviuosly has a 100 % chance OF happening, really.

Oh, my word. That is wrong on so many levels.

According to that article, because the Laws of Nature were forged at the moment of the Big Bang, then they cannot be applied to evolution (which did not start of Earth until some 10 billion years after the Big Bang).

And all that Goldilocks hoo-wah! According to that idea, life can't exist at the poles, or around volcanic vents, or floating high in the atmosphere being blasted by UV radiation, or in highly acidic water, or in highly caustic water... yet it does.

Do I really need to go on?

I'll be charitable, and pretend the article was written from a position of ignorance, but it reads as though it was written with the direct intention of deceit.

Wow, I am so happy I do not live in Cobb County, so many wrong things, whoever wrote this sounds like a hyper-religious conspiracy theorist with a vendetta against the government and all things that do not follow his religion. Just wait til Kiteman sees this. I really want to see his reaction.

See my comment. I think it's sarcasm.

I am not sure, there is till a society who believe the earth is flat, or maybe that one is a joke too.

Yeah, I know. Poe's law states that real fundamentalism and a parody of it is nearly the same, so I can't tell if either this site or the flat earth society is a parody.

Yea, some of their claims are so ridiculous that it seems like no sane man would ever say it.

You do realise the site is ridiculing creationist "wedge" ideology, don't you?

I sorta caught onto that when I saw image that said, Kansas, as dumb as you think.

On a quick scan, it reads like a very mild satire of the Discovery Institute, which exists to push "Intelligent Design" into school science curricular. Their claim is that ID is a science, so it should be given equal time to standard cosmology and evolution in schools. Unfortunately, off the internet, under oath in a court of law, they have admitted that ID is only "science" if you expand the definition of science to include astrology as a formal science, and the only designer they will consider to have been involved in the process is the christian version of god. On a deeper read, my first impressions are held up - the website is simply holding up a very dubious organisation to a comparatively mild dose of ridicule.

Poe's Law? I read the first page and thought it was serious, until I went to the "Gravity: just a theory" page. lol

What about morality? Can evolution explain that? From my reading, the answer is no. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fundamentalist wacko, but I do think that God set the ball rolling on this whole evolution thing.

Of course not! Science, as properly constituted, has never tried to explain morality. Evolution might be able to explain why our brains our wired up to perceive certain things as "right" or "wrong" (i.e., why we construct morality the way we do), but it cannot possibly do either
  • explain the existence of morality as an independent entity
  • justify "right" or "wrong" based on our observations of nature

Both of those are outside the purview of Science as properly constructed. Nonetheless, throughout the past century or more, many scientists have claimed to use their work to "justify" (im)moral behaviour on "scientific" grounds. Just as the use of religious dogma to "justify" pseuto-scientific claims is wrongheaded, so was/is the activity of those kinds of scientists.

Aha! So, then, where did morality come from? If it is not evolutionarily useful, shouldn't it have disappeared by now? Everything about us exists for a reason, evolutionary or otherwise, so what's the reason for this? I feel that this is a pretty stable argument for the existence of some sort of God, and a God that cares about us, no less.

Not everything exists for a reason. You're making the assumption you need in order to prove your argument, which is the fallacy of circularity.

The word "reason" may be a loaded term. Certainly not everything that exists is beneficial from an evolutionary standpoint. Some things may not even have a reason from a moral/philisophical standpoint. I'd like to see some specifics from 3cheers4nick, and from you, as far as things that do or don't have "reasons".

The word "reason" is indeed a loaded term, hence my retort :-) Limiting the discussion to evolution, I wouldn't even equate "reason" with "benefit". Not every beneficial feature was necessarily selected for.

Gould published the term "exaptation" for some feature which developed in some environment, but then turned out to have a benefit in a completely different situation -- feathers are a good example, which were originally thermal-control organs, but turned out to be really useful for flight.

More broadly, there are numerous features of the natural world which "just are," and don't have any "reason" other than historical contingency. The positions of the continents are a transient phenomenon. The distance of our solar system from the center of the galaxy. Even the masses of the elementary particles (electrons, neutrinos, quarks), are absurdly arbitrary (pace Michael Greene and the rest of the string theorists!).

Okay, I admit it. Arguing science against a physicist is going to get me nowhere. But still, I fundamentally disagree. The things you have listed as arbitrary are exactly what Nacho was talking about in his comment: "If it is valuable or benign, it may hang around." The position of the continents doesn't really apply to this argument because a) the position of the continents isn't helping or hindering the continents themselves, and b) the continents aren't alive I think that finding something about humans that is not the way it is due to evolution would be a difficult task. (That said, you're bound to come up with something that fits the bill almost instantly.)

You write, "I think that finding something about humans that is not the way it is due to evolution would be a difficult task. (That said, you're bound to come up with something that fits the bill almost instantly.)"

I think that I was misunderstanding your intent in your original statements. If by "evolution" you (correctly) mean "descent with modification," then what you just wrote is exactly right. The physical features of humans (and of every living thing on the planet) was inherited, and possibly modified during that inheritance, and so is a product of "evolution."

What is not true (and what I, incorrectly, thought you meant) is that every physical feature was actively selected for during that evolutionary process.

For example, the fact that we have five fingers and five toes on each hand is an "accident" -- it is a feature we share in common with most amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (with a few interesting exceptions), because it is a feature which all those groups' common ancestor had. Why five? Probably because that's how many bones the precursor tetrapod's lobefin had supporting it.

BTW, I brought up the positions of continents because you had made a much more general statement that "everything about [around?] us exists for a reason." That belief system, which dates back to Aristotle's argument about primum casus(*) is not the way we believe the natural world operates.

(*) I'm amused that we use a Latin phrase to label a Greek philosophical view :-)

Man, even I'm confused about what my point was in the first place anymore. I'll summarize what I think is going on: Doing "what's right" is sometimes detrimental to whoever is doing it. So, according to biology, these detrimental facets of morality should have been selected out. But they haven't. Why? Either (a) because it's beneficial to the species as a whole (which may be difficult to argue/argue with), or (b), something "bigger" than evolution (read:God) is "telling" it to stick around and get ignored by selection. I personally believe the answer is (b), because I don't see how (a) is true, and you guys haven't come up with a bulletproof (c) yet. --- BTW, I definitely didn't mean "everything around us exists for a reason" -- that would include continental drift etc. What I meant was, the only body part we still have that is not obviously necessary is our hair, which, unlike these "facets of morality", is neither helping nor hindering us. I hope this all makes sense.

You wrote, "Doing "what's right" is sometimes detrimental to whoever is doing it. So, according to biology, these detrimental facets of morality should have been selected out. But they haven't. Why?"

This is where you're oversimplifying. Detrimental facets of anything do not have to be "selected out." As I noted elsewhere, organisms are complicated, non-linear systems. Multiple features may be interconnected in ways that cannot be separated (they derive from a common signaling enzyme, for example), and therefore can't be individually selected for or against.

By assuming that every individual feature is "atomic" (that is, can be separately added or deleted from an organism without affecting other parts of the system), you're making a fallacy that was common in the late 19th Century, but has been long discarded from current scientific understanding.

Turning around and trying to use that discarded assumption to "disprove" evolution is pointless and irrelevant.

It is an oversimplification, in that some less-valuable traits may be inseperable from other essential traits. And the motivation for these actions/traits are sooo varied. But it is interesting to ponder the thought processes we go through while exercising seemingly non-beneficial (to ourselves and our progeny) characteristics. The desires to protect the weak, provide for the (genetically) non-viable, and ease the suffering of the terminal are common throughout mankind. We look for examples like these amoung animals (and find them), but the traits SEEM so human. I guess the big question is: What makes us different from all the other animals (particularly primates)? Obviously the genetic differences, but what about the emotions, mentality, and thoughts? We obviously rarely KNOW exactly what animals are thinking. But do they think beyond instinct and preservation? (BTW-I think they probably do a little.) But I wonder, does an orangutan ask "Why am I here?"? Do chimpanzees hope that there is an afterlife? Do gorillas seek the origins of their species? Do spider monkeys wonder what their great-grandparents were like? Are lemurs interested in history? I've got no answers, but I'm full of questions.

> What makes us different from all the other animals (particularly primates)? . If I understood what I read, the genetic differences between h. sapiens and the primates is close to nil. Although, evidently, those few differences are pretty important. . Nacho's theory is that it's all in the brain. For some reason, we are much better at abstract thinking. Primates may be able to conceive some "provident force," but I doubt they could formulate anything like a god and salvation. As far as morals go, the only difference I see is that ours' is based more on logic and perceived power, whereas that of the apes (and most other animals) is based of physical power. . > We obviously rarely KNOW exactly what animals are thinking. . I'd say we never know. Any anthropomorphism on my part is strictly for convenience. In spite of all my naysaying below, there might be a lot going on inside their heads. . > do they think beyond instinct and preservation? . My guess is very little, if at all. But I wouldn't be too surprised if they do. . I'm not so sure that humans aren't the same - we just have a larger (and more complex) set of responses. . > "Why am I here?"? . I don't think so. Although older ones may wonder what they came into the kitchen to get. :) . > Do chimpanzees hope that there is an afterlife? Do gorillas seek the origins of their species? Do spider monkeys wonder what their great-grandparents were like? . I feel pretty sure those are a no. . > Are lemurs interested in history? . I don't recall reading of any other species that have any kind of The History Of Us.

In spite of all my naysaying below, there might be a lot going on inside their heads.

One of the problems with finding out what is going on in their heads is that lack of a developed language, without which, no communication is possible. I also has an additional problem. A feral child, or someone that was shut away from the world (yes, some parents have been this cruel) that did not learn language have been found to have not used or developed certain parts of their brains and this may be one of the few differences we do have. A portion of the cerebral cortex that is language oriented. Without this, most of the other portions of the argument fall away, since none of those things can be developed without language.

I read something by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen (it might have been in Science of the Discworld III - Darwin's Watch) where they thought that the main difference between "us" and "them" was not language (chimps, gorillas and grey parrots have all been able to learn and use human language, many creatures have their own complex languages) but the ability to tell stories - tales of fiction, tales with a moral, tales to explain the world.

They even proposed a re-naming of homo sapiens as pan narrans - the story-telling ape.

pan narrans? I think they were trying to describe my in-laws!

I always figured that the lack of history record keeping did a fair job of separating us form all the other animals.

I mostly agree with a few major exceptions, formost of which is: My cats are genuinely devious! (" You WILL serve me. I MIGHT protect you from rodents.") My dogs seem intentionally retarded, to their benefit. ("I'm gun-shy, won't hunt am a afraid of intruders, but I R CUTE!") And even my chickens mock me, "I WOULD be tasty, but your kids feel sorry for me ;-> .."

Well, it looks like my argument is cooked. Too bad. Time to find something new to argue about. And I want everyone to remember that I was not trying to "disprove" evolution. I believe in evolution whole-heartedly. I just happen to also believe in a God. A God, which, it seems likely to me, "designed" evolution. What I'm really saying is, there are some things about life that science can't explain. So why are they here? Maybe my example was a bad one, or maybe I'm just wrong. I don't know.

You wrote, "What I'm really saying is, there are some things about life that science can't explain."

Now that I can agree with! I do think you chose a poor example :-), and got the up the hackles of the Scientists around here. Beauty? Honor? Faith itself? It's not obvious to me that those "qualities" are explicable in an evolutionary or analytic sense, nor do they need to be.

> where did morality come from?
. We (humans) invented it.
.
> If it is not evolutionarily useful, shouldn't it have disappeared by now?
. Nope. If it is valuable or benign, it may hang around. Detrimental characteristics have a tendency to disappear (the individuals die or cannot reproduce) and sometimes take the species with them.
. What is evolutionarily valuable/detrimental today may be detrimental/valuable tomorrow.
.
> Everything about us exists for a reason, evolutionary or otherwise, so what's the reason for this?
. Morals are only uncodified laws and function to grease the wheels of society. Uber-manners, if you will.
.
> I feel that this is a pretty stable argument for the existence of some sort of God
. I disagree. There may be a God, but your argument does nothing to support that claim.

. Fair points. Arguing with you is fun.
.
> We (humans) invented it.
. But why?
>> if it is valuable or benign it might hang around.
.. Yes, I agree, but there are definitely moral tendencies present in humans that are not beneficial, or even benign. Protecting people who can not reciprocate your protection is morally "correct", bet generally involves putting yourself in danger. Strict evolution should have ruled out this element of morality long ago, but it still exists for some reason.
.
> There may be a God, but your argument does nothing to support that claim.
. What I'm saying here is, there are facets of life that go against standard evolution. These facets are not accidental, because if that was the case, evolution would have ruled them out.
So if they are not accidental, where did they come from? It seems to me that they were put there on purpose. But who could put them there? Only something that would be classicaly defined as "God". And why do I think this God cares about us? Because if it didn't give a rat's, it wouldn't have bothered telling us to take care of each other.

. My writing and debate skills are not nearly as eloquent as those whose ideas I'm stealing. Check out these links:
. http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/Ockham/y64l052.html
. http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5237

When you say, "there are facets of life that go against standard evolution," could you please provide specific examples? Are you referring to physical features (traits), which are determined by heredity (and therefore may be subject to natural selection), or to beliefs and ideas, which are either cultural teachings or individual idiosyncracies, and are not, obviously, subject to inheritance or to selection.

> ... cultural teachingsor individual idiosyncracies, ... are not, obviously, subject to inheritance or to selection. . While not genetically inherited, traditions are passed on and, it seems to me, selected on. If I don't follow some semblance of local customs, my chances of reproducing drop. Ie, Nacho's Theory of Evolution says anything that affects one's ability to attract the opposite sex is a selector. If I don't act normally (according to the cultural teachings of the time and place), I'm probably not going to be very successful. Luckily for me, some wimmen don't understand evolution. ;)

Unfortunately for me, dating a Geek is fun ideas came too late LOL

What may be meant by facets (of morality?) that go against evolution (and I may be all wet here since I didn't read every post), is the actual development of socialized moral behavior that seems to work towards the greater good for individuals when most of nature prefers to defend the survival of the the species.
correct me if I am wrong...

> But why? . Because it makes life easier. But that does not mean it had anything to do with Evolution (or that it didn't). Even assuming that "morals" are beneficial to the survival of the species, what is valuable today ... . If morals are not adversely affecting the species, there is no reason for them to be weeded out. Evolution is a war of attrition. Good and benign traits may or may not be passed on, but bad traits are nearly always dealt with quickly (on a gelogical time scale) and decisively. Good traits get multiple chances to fail, bad traits tend not to get a second chance to succeed. . > there are definitely moral tendencies present in humans that are not beneficial, or even benign . And these tendencies are usually rewarded with incarceration/ostracizing/&c.; Which usually leads to reduced opportunities to reproduce. Aren't you more likely to do business (personal, social, or otherwise) with ppl who share similar morals? Morals/laws provide a stable social framework, which may lead to a more productive society, but that can lead to depletion of resources (where we seem to be heading) and extinction. . "Do unto others" is a good policy, even if you are amoral. If nothing else, it usually increases one's chances of attracting a mate. . > Protecting people who can not reciprocate your protection is morally "correct", bet generally involves putting yourself in danger. . Evolution is not about the individual. If an individual's "selfless" behavior is valuable to the survival of the species, then it will tend to be passed on, regardless of it's effect on the individual. . > there are facets of life that go against standard evolution . Examples? . And what is "standard evolution"? . > These facets are not accidental, because if that was the case, evolution would have ruled them out. . Why would it have ruled them out? If it does not affect the species as a whole, there is no pressure for it to increase or decrease. . > where did they come from? It seems to me that they were put there on purpose . Following that logic, everything I don't understand must have a supernatural cause. I don't buy it. . . As a species, we are very young. If your morality won't get us through the next Ice Age/asteroid/Global Warming/&c;, what good is it?

Hi, Nacho. Just a few clarifications to your points above. They're good ones, but there are some nice details to add.


You wrote, "Evolution is a war of attrition. ... [B]ad traits are nearly always dealt with quickly." This may be true, but doesn't have to be. Morphology is an extremely complex, non-linear interaction of multiple genes and multiple gene products. It is quite possible that some "bad trait" is coupled to some other "good" traits, and can't be eliminated without affecting those good traits adversely.

One of the canonical examples in humans is the mutation for malaria resistance. This developed in native African populations, and is extremely beneficial. It turns out, however, that if that gene variant is passed on by both the mother and father, the child with two copies will develop sickle cell anemia.
The sickle-cell trait is not "weeded out" by natural selection, because the malaria resistance is sufficiently beneficial.

You wrote, "Evolution is not about the individual." Technically, Darwin and Wallace's original formulation of natural selection was exclusively about individuals. Today, we recognize that selection can apply at many levels in this complex system: Dawkins advocates for selection at the level of genes, even within single individuals (his "selfish gene" hypothesis). Others propose "group selection" as you described it above, where the species as a whole is selected for or against, in "competition" with other species/groups.

Yeah. The trouble is I learned proper editing and writing long before I joined Instructables. Brackets within a quotation denote text modified by the editor (above, I captialized the original 'bad').

Since the WikiFormatter already has code to recognize well-formed URLs and make them hyperlinks, it shouldn't be too hard for that same code to be called from within the bracket-parser. If the first token within brackets is not a well-formed URL, the brackets could/should be left as literal characters.

Maybe {b}races would work better?

Sure they would, but they're incorrect :-(

Some of us just gotta have something to whine about...