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Lack of Order in Evolution

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posted on Aug, 10 2005 @ 07:53 PM
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In the field of science, we have always been proud that we are able to gain any knowledge at all of the physical world. We have been able to do this because we realized that the universe is ordered, and that we are able to discover this order.

But, what happens when a theory is content to say that there is no order that can be found, how does this change our view about the limits to science? I for one believe that there is no limit to science.

Two of the major precepts for evolution is that changes in an organism are precipitated by random mutations, and that evolution is a nondirectional process.

In the precept of random mutation, we are to understand that mutations occur for no apparent reason. Is it perhaps a simple flaw in the mechanics of life?

The theory of random mutation also helps to establish the theory that evolution is a nondirectional process. I also find this sort of odd since the evolutionary theory also goes on to say that natural selection guides the process.

Anyway, taking a look at these two precepts of evolution, I see that they imply disorder or disharmony in the universe.

How are we to come to terms with a theory that undermines the belief in Science as a way to come to knowledge of an orderly universe? Should evolution change or should we change our entire perspective upon the grandness and infiniteness of Science?




posted on Aug, 10 2005 @ 08:26 PM
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Originally posted by Jamuhn
Should evolution change or should we change our entire perspective upon the grandness and infiniteness of Science?


The latter (and to some degree the first as all science advances whereas dogma does not).

To hold science (which actually considers finding flaws in itself progress and as such revises constantly) up to the standard of 'grand and infinite' or in any way perfect is a false dichotomy predominantly spread by those seeking to make science a dogma akin to their own they wish to spread.

It also begs the question to consider random mutations a "flaw" in the mechanics of life. Intelligent designers make flaws. Random is just random. And natural selection is not a "guiding" force as one may describe the hand of God. That's play at semantics.



posted on Aug, 11 2005 @ 10:08 AM
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Originally posted by Jamuhn
But, what happens when a theory is content to say that there is no order that can be found, how does this change our view about the limits to science? I for one believe that there is no limit to science.

I'm not really sure what you are getting at? How can you say there is no order in the theory of evolution? Life is all about order out of a random universe, and that is what evolutionary theory attempts to describe.



In the precept of random mutation, we are to understand that mutations occur for no apparent reason. Is it perhaps a simple flaw in the mechanics of life?

Mutations occur for lots of different reasons. From corruption of DNA by radiation, UV or sub-atomic particles to transcribing errors. None of these are completely random (for example an organism that lives underground is exposed to less UV). Recent research suggests that certain species (of bateria) may be much more likely make transcribing errors, as this helps them adapt to the environment more quickly than species who rarely have DNA mutations. In fact their higher mutation rate is an evolutionary trait in itself!

Although the occurance of mutations is pretty random, which mutations survive to the next generation is not. This is the order inherent in evolution.




The theory of random mutation also helps to establish the theory that evolution is a nondirectional process.

Well, it has no end point, if that's what you mean.



I also find this sort of odd since the evolutionary theory also goes on to say that natural selection guides the process.

I think you may have misunderstood. Natural selection is the process.



How are we to come to terms with a theory that undermines the belief in Science as a way to come to knowledge of an orderly universe?

What do you mean? The radioactive decay of a substance is random. Does that also "undermine" science?



Should evolution change or should we change our entire perspective upon the grandness and infiniteness of Science?

Well you are going to have to re-write quite a few scientific theories if you start assuming there is no randomness in the universe. "Grandness and infiniteness" sounds like something a priest would say, not a scientist.

Evolutionary theory should change with the evidence, not because of philisophical view point. What is your problem with evolution exactly? Are you saying that the random mutations don't occur? Even the young earth creationist nuts don't suggest that.



posted on Aug, 11 2005 @ 01:53 PM
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Originally posted by Jamuhn
In the field of science, we have always been proud that we are able to gain any knowledge at all of the physical world. We have been able to do this because we realized that the universe is ordered, and that we are able to discover this order...
...How are we to come to terms with a theory that undermines the belief in Science as a way to come to knowledge of an orderly universe?


The truth is, we do not believe "that the universe is ordered." Maybe many people do, such as yourself, but not scientists.
Scientists believe only that the universe is knowable or, at least, describable.

As for randomness, randomness exists, does it not? Everything that exists is part of the universe (that's one definition of the word "universe.") Hence the universe contains randomness. That means it's not surprising to find randomness when investigating the universe.

Ever heard of Chaos Theory? Talk about randomness.

Harte



posted on Aug, 11 2005 @ 07:42 PM
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Well, this thread so far has been surprisingly civile. I appreciate that. There are only a couple of small, minor details that I want to address real quick.


Originally posted by RANT
And natural selection is not a "guiding" force as one may describe the hand of God. That's play at semantics.

Actually, your sentence is the play at semantics. I never mentioned anyone's God or religion once in my original post.



What is your problem with evolution exactly? Are you saying that the random mutations don't occur?

Reread my post.

Ok, it seems there are a few main hang-ups relating to this topic...
1. That natural selection guides evolution.
Favorable mutations are naturally selected as superior. If a mutated organism survives and reproduces, it is considered fit. Although, even if it hasn't mutated, it will still be considered fit. But, environment is a factor that benefits the fitness of the adapted organisms, and ones that are adapted better are more fit. Natural selection can be said to guide evolution because the best suited traits for that environment are most likely to get passed through the genetic line. It is natural selection that essentially determines which traits are the best suited. Thus, an organism evolves as these adapted traits are passed on.

2. That randomness exists.
It is not randomness that exists, but rather probability that does. When one says to produce a random card from a deck of cards, we are able to calculate the probability of a certain card being pulled.
And, on the matter of probability, I like this quote


Boole, George
An Investigation of the Law of Thought
Probability is expectation founded upon partial knowledge. A perfect acquaintance with all the circumstances affecting the occurrence of an event would change expectation into certainty, and leave neither room nor demand for a theory of probabilities.

www.mathcs.carleton.edu...


3. That people, particularly scientists, don't believe the universe is ordered.
I find this somewhat odd, seeing that without order, we would nothing but a heap of facts. But, we are able to connect seemingly unrelated facts, such as time, distance, and velocity to arrive at simple equations. We are able to predict events in nature by virtue of the universe having order. If the universe were not ordered than there would be no reason or ability to experiment, such as we see with the evolutionary theory. There are obviously parts of evolutionary theory that are ordered, such as microevolution and natural selection, but even young earth creationists believe in this. Put simply, science would not even exist if the universe were not ordered.

4. No-one has addressed the theory in evolution that it is a non-directional process.
Well, the theory of irreducible complexity (based on probability) seems to address the theory of a non-directional process. Non-directional evolution is an oxymoron considering that natural selection directs us to better adapt to our environment.



posted on Aug, 11 2005 @ 09:37 PM
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your basic premise is that if there isn't order then it can't be explained - take that one to your math professor and see what you get. things can appear to be without order (or, in other words, not linear) but can actually have solid mathmatical equations behind them that are easily explainable.

OK, keep fishing - you may yet discover something...



posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 04:11 AM
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Jamuhn - I've re-read both your posts and I must say that I am still baffled to exactly what your problem is with evolutionary theory. Is your problem with the concept of randomness?

Are you saying random mutations don't happen? If so how do you think evolution works?

Many fields of science, mathematics and statistics are based around the concept of randomness. The Wikipedia entry on this is pretty good:

en.wikipedia.org...



Some philosophers have argued that there is no randomness in the universe, only unpredictability. Others find the distinction meaningless.


I'm of the opinion that the distinction is meaningless. However if we called the mutations that occur in DNA "unpredictable" instead of "random" would that help?



posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 09:28 AM
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Originally posted by Al Davison
things can appear to be without order (or, in other words, not linear) but can actually have solid mathmatical equations behind them that are easily explainable.

Thanks Al, I'm of that opinion towards parts of the theory of evolution.


Originally posted by FatherLukeDuke
I'm of the opinion that the distinction is meaningless. However if we called the mutations that occur in DNA "unpredictable" instead of "random" would that help?

I think that these mutations are not random, but rather predictable....not unpredictable.

As well, I think that evolution is a directional process.



posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 09:44 AM
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Originally posted by Jamuhn
I think that these mutations are not random, but rather predictable....not unpredictable.

Well if you say so. I'd really like to see you predict some of these mutations in DNA. Care to make one?

As I said before DNA mutations are caused by:

Transcribing errors
Sub-atomic particles
UV
Radiation

Which of these are "predictable"?



As well, I think that evolution is a directional process.

Again, I really don't know know what you mean by "directional process". Could you give me a definition?



posted on Aug, 13 2005 @ 03:53 AM
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Well heres my theory on evolution I think it may be guided but not by the hand of some magical being. I think there is some sort of gene that makes a certain part of the brain that is almost like inherited memory that will slightly change the DNA of offspring (only by a small amount) that cumulativly guides the evolution of an animal, as for single cellur organisms and the like I belive tht it is just a part of the nucleus that does this. I would like the answer questions about this but Im not going to create a thread about this becasue I'll probably balls up the start and just get into a creation vs evolution argument and my thread as usual would be completly ruined.



posted on Aug, 13 2005 @ 10:55 AM
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Originally posted by Jamuhn
Well, this thread so far has been surprisingly civile. I appreciate that.

Ok, it seems there are a few main hang-ups relating to this topic...
1. That natural selection guides evolution.
Favorable mutations are naturally selected as superior. If a mutated organism survives and reproduces, it is considered fit. Although, even if it hasn't mutated, it will still be considered fit. But, environment is a factor that benefits the fitness of the adapted organisms, and ones that are adapted better are more fit. Natural selection can be said to guide evolution because the best suited traits for that environment are most likely to get passed through the genetic line. It is natural selection that essentially determines which traits are the best suited. Thus, an organism evolves as these adapted traits are passed on.


Often we forget that natural variation exists within a species that is not due to any mutation. The idea that the combination of mutation and selection are the only operatives in evolution is fallacious. Here's an example.

I know you probably don't believe what I'm going to use here for my example, but just for the sake of argument, please suspend your disbelief momentarily.

Australopethicus Afarensis dates to about 4 - 4.5 million years ago. It is currently thought that this species was one of the earliest hominids to walk on two feet. Louis Leaky has proposed that climate change (resulting from upthrusting Himalayas, I believe is what he said) caused a rather large and densely forested jungle in Ethiopia to start thinning out and eventually become grassland.

A. Afarensis, or it's ancestors, were tree dwellers. Why should they walk on two legs? As the trees disappeared, individuals that could walk on two legs over longer distances had a survival advantage. That is not to say that some individual one day got a lucky mutation so his offspring could now walk on two legs. It is to say that, like every primate we know now, earlier versions of A. Afarensis could walk on two legs if necessary, and some individuals could do this over somewhat larger distances than others.

Over time (probably not too much time, if A. Afarensis was in the least bit tasty) new generations of A. Afarensis could walk better on two feet, based on exactly the same principle that makes certain breeds of dogs better at pointing to and retrieving birds. No real genetic change, just a change in environment that altered the requirements for survival and brought out already existing traits in A. Afarensis that weren't absolutely necessary before.

I can see this species going from tree dweller to ground dweller in only a hundred years or so. And without any mutation in the DNA. And if natural selection has guided this process, then it's a fickle, if not blind guide, since only a few generations earlier natural selection was making promises to A. Afarensis about tree dwelling.


Originally posted by Jamuhn
2. That randomness exists.
It is not randomness that exists, but rather probability that does. When one says to produce a random card from a deck of cards, we are able to calculate the probability of a certain card being pulled.
And, on the matter of probability, I like this quote


Boole, George
An Investigation of the Law of Thought
Probability is expectation founded upon partial knowledge. A perfect acquaintance with all the circumstances affecting the occurrence of an event would change expectation into certainty, and leave neither room nor demand for a theory of probabilities.
www.mathcs.carleton.edu...


I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say Boole was wrong. Randomness cannot be reduced to certainty by "a perfect acquaintance with all the circumstances..." Ask any particle physicist if you don't want to believe me.


Originally posted by Jamuhn
3. That people, particularly scientists, don't believe the universe is ordered.
I find this somewhat odd, seeing that without order, we would nothing but a heap of facts. But, we are able to connect seemingly unrelated facts, such as time, distance, and velocity to arrive at simple equations. We are able to predict events in nature by virtue of the universe having order. If the universe were not ordered than there would be no reason or ability to experiment, such as we see with the evolutionary theory. There are obviously parts of evolutionary theory that are ordered, such as microevolution and natural selection, but even young earth creationists believe in this. Put simply, science would not even exist if the universe were not ordered.


You and I must have different understandings of the term. I lean more toward the mathematical definition of "ordered." I'm not sure what you mean.

I'd say, like I said before, that scientists believe the universe is understandable, or at least describable. Randomness is both of these things.

Originally posted by Jamuhn
4. No-one has addressed the theory in evolution that it is a non-directional process.
Well, the theory of irreducible complexity (based on probability) seems to address the theory of a non-directional process. Non-directional evolution is an oxymoron considering that natural selection directs us to better adapt to our environment.


Read what I said above about the "guidance" of natural selection. The way you are looking at it puts the cart before the horse. Natural selection can "guide" you right into extinction, as well as toward better adaptation.

Harte




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