Thursday, August 27, 2009

Evolution vs. Creationism - Part6

[Long posts scare me. Read time: 6min]

Scott tells us: Darwinism is natural selection, not evolution. Again: There is a difference between the phenomenon and the mechanism that makes it happen. In short, if we take "repeated iterations of randomly generated solutions, combined with selection of the characteristics that meet the necessary criteria, [we'll get] a series of solutions that more closely approximate a good solution" [34].

In other words: The key difference between natural selection and Perry Marshal's Random Mutation Generator is that Perry's lacks the part that selects only the mutations that make up proper words... or, at least, recognizable approximations like kthxbai.

Conclusion: Natural selection works with already operating systems where at least a part of the population can function in a different situation. Hang onto that idea because it is, I think, the crux of the failure of this chapter--and probably, this book (if not the entire "theory" in question here).

Scott continues: Thus, natural selection is genetic differences within a population that leads to those who are better suited for the environment to naturally reproduce more than the others. [35] Natural selection is not based on chance, but rather luck. Those who are "lucky" enough to have the genes for a situation procreate. Nothing "chance" about it. [36]

I think it's rather lame to replace "chance" with "luck" ...but whatever. It's her book. Though, I was struck by how closely this kind of verbal quibbling resembles the tension between freewill and predestination.

Scott: Natural selection is survival of the fit enough. "The process of natural selection works more like a tinkerer than an engineer" much like building guitars out of toilet seats and strings... using what you have rather than designing it from the ground up. [37]

I think what Scott is secretly referring to is the flawed nature of the world. It's almost as if she is unconsciously saying, "It's far too messy to be designed by anything like that Christian God." But she doesn't say it. She merely makes these rather odd statements and drifts on.

I am very glad Scott includes this definition: Speciation happens when a population becomes reproductively isolated from the others of its kind. [42 emphasis hers]

I've long known of the struggle to define the term species. And Scott's definition does little to clear things up. For this definition could include speciation if a human population was put on one side of a wall and the rest of us kept on the other side. Granted, she is right in that we will likely see a shift in the evolution of these two groups. But a new species of human? The definition is shaky, but I'll go with it (because at least she's defining something).

But in the end, after having said little more than what is paraphrased above, Scott wants us to know one very important thing: Man is not descended from monkeys. Far from it! No, man is merely related to monkeys via a common ancestor.

So, I am not a descendant of my Uncle Earl. That would be preposterous! But Earl and I are both descendants of my Great Grandpappy Joe.

And that makes it all better.

Only those with with *no* understanding of human relations would believe that "I came from my Uncle Earl."

I had a biology teacher who said that his biggest peeve was that people said humans were descended from apes. Somehow this was huge for him (and others) because we are not descended from them, but rather descended like them from a common earlier thing. I'm still not sure why that bugged him so much. If someone learning English misapplied the idea of the word Uncle to mean Predecessor instead of Relative, I wouldn't get bent out of shape. I may politely correct this minor slip, but my foreign friend would still get the gist of what was happening.

Which has lead me to the following observations:

  1. Scott (and many others) get all bent out of shape with a few specific definitions, and yet fail to clearly define most everything else in their discussion.
  2. It seems that "common ancestor" is the "right" answer simply because it's nebulous whereas apes are concrete. I have yet to hear an explanation of any kind from anyone as to why this distinction is so important.
  3. Scott quoted no science--as she defined it in the previous chapter--that indicates any kind of macro evolution. None.
  4. Instead, she gave very nice details about how rabbits have adapted, birds have diversified, and fish have splintered in various species.
  5. Thus, in a chapter dedicated to evolution, Scott presented absolutely no scientific data--which is explained in detail the chapter before--that points to macro evolution.
  6. Therefore, Scott has shown that evolution only works in the horizontal way with organisms already in place that come pre-built with the ability to adjust.

Therefore, what I understand to be the case still holds true: Change does happen within things via natural selection and genetic mutations. But no data has yet to arise that scientifically demonstrates vertical progression between the species.


And this is the book written by the "Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, the leading advocacy group for the teaching of evolution in the United States." [273] If she can't come up with any data or information, it is little wonder people still seriously question the scientific backing of this idea.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

[Added 8/28/09: Humans are from apes after all. Greg does want us to remember, however, that there's no such thing as "human exceptionalism"...]

1 comment:

Anne L.B. said...

"'The process of natural selection works more like a tinkerer than an engineer' much like building guitars out of toilet seats and strings... using what you have rather than designing it from the ground up."

Now we're getting somewhere. Evolution admits dependence on a toilet seat and string designer.

Without an explantion for origins, evolution is dead in the water.