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Evolution: A Fresh Look; And, “New” Ideas

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posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 05:05 PM
I've recently been looking into some of the views on evolution again and just wanted to post up some of what I found, in order to see what other people think about the subject. I'll just state that I feel all the views of evolution are incomplete to some extent. Note that I did not say wrong. Evolution is a fact. Everything in the Universe is constantly changing. So, for that reason I will personally leave some ideas like creationism out of the OP. But, if others have input along those lines, please speak up. Since my background is in physics and engineering, I have a hard time with things that don’t jive up with established scientific fact. However, being familiar with the limits of our scientific knowledge and being a spiritual person, I am open minded to some ideas too.

So, I feel that all "popular" evolution theories/paradigms leave something to be desired, but that they may each also contain some kernel of the final truth on evolution, whatever that may turn out to be.

I will cover only the following three views and will speak about them in rather absolute terms, even though the theory of evolution, in reality, is not purely in one branch or the other.

(1) Darwinian Evolution
(2) Lamarckian Evolution
(3) Teilhardism

I put “New” in quotes in the thread title, because all these views are relatively old, but the last two are being newly reconsidered more often lately.

**Darwinian Evolution**

Let's start with Darwinian Evolution, which is the most commonly accepted and dominant paradigm. This one is sometimes simply described as natural selection, or "survival of the fittest". It is often more broadly termed "Evolutionary Materialism" by those who consider alternative views that go beyond just a materialistic description driven by random mechanistic processes.

The following sums up this view:

Evolutionary materialism is constructed upon the following two premises: (1) there is no spiritual dimension to the world, and (2) evolution proceeds by natural selection. Based upon these premises, evolutionary materialism reaches the following conclusions:

1. [B]The most important feature about living creatures is the information that is tied up in their genes.[/B]

2. [B]Evolution is not progressive.[/B] There has been an obvious increase in the complexity of beings over time but this does not involve any progress. The word “progress” implies an increase in value over time, and since it doesn’t matter to genes whether they populate an amoeba or a human, evolution has not produced an increase in value. Hence, evolution is not progressive.

3. [B]Consciousness is an emergent property.[/B] This view contends that a creature’s brain must contain a certain density of neurons before consciousness can arise. Once the human brain reached this threshold, consciousness appeared. In this view, consciousness is a feature that is present only in humans, though perhaps to some extent in the higher mammals. It is an epiphenomenon produced by electrical and chemical activity in the brain and has no spiritual significance.

4. [B]Evolution is a random mechanistic process.[/B] Evolution involves a random change in the genetic makeup of beings. Because it is a random process, evolution is meaningless. As a result, human life is also meaningless.

5. [B]Humans arose by chance.[/B] Because evolution progresses through chance mutations, the appearance of humans on this planet is simply a stroke of luck. Rewind the tape, play it back, and humans might not appear again.

**Lamarckian Evolution**

I personally find Darwinian view of "survival of the fittest" to be incomplete. We are finding out more and more each day how species our tied together and actually depend on each other more than we ever realized.

One of the best examples of this is the bacteria in our stomach. We literally have a small "ecosystem" in our stomach, and the health of that ecosystem determines the balance between "good" and "bad" bacteria we have. In addition, our digestive system is tied to our immune system. So, we cannot survive without these bacteria and optimal health requires this “ecosystem” to be in balance. This is another reason for all the antibiotic warnings - they can wipe out the good bacteria in your stomach that you depend on for healthy digestion.

Another example would the honey bee, which we hear about in the news a lot lately. If the honey bees disappear (which some are afraid they might because of the declining populations) we are in trouble. Bees pollinate much of the food we eat. If they disappear, humans won't necessarily disappear too, but it is going to be a real miserable time while we go through the resulting world-side food crisis that will be created.

Anyhow, one could go on all day long with examples of how life seems to be composed of a number of species that exists in harmony with each other and seemingly depend on each other.

This is where the Lamarckian view on Evolution comes in. It is not so different than Evolutionary Materialism, or Darwin Paradigm, it just has a different focus. It focuses more on communities and their interdependencies, rather than "survival of the fittest".

It is summed up well here:

Not only did Lamarck present his theory fifty years before Darwin, he offered a much less harsh theory of the mechanisms of evolution. Lamarck’s theory suggested that evolution was based on an ‘instructive,’ cooperative interaction among organisms and their environment that enables life forms to survive and evolve in a dynamic world. His notion was that organisms acquire and pass on adaptations necessary for their survival in a changing environment. Interestingly, Lamarck’s hypothesis about the mechanisms of evolution conform to modern cell biologists’ understanding of how immune systems adapt to their environment as described above.

Today Lamarck’s theories are being reevaluated under the weight of a body of new science that suggests that the oft-denounced biologist was not entirely wrong and the oft-lauded Darwin not entirely correct. The title of an article in the prestigious journal Science in 2000 was one sign of glasnost: Was Lamarck Just a Little Bit Right?

One reason some scientists are taking another look at Lamarck is that evolutionists are reminding us of the invaluable role cooperation plays in sustaining life in the biosphere. Scientists have long noted symbiotic relationships in nature. In Darwin’s Blind Spot [Ryan 2002, page 16], British physician Frank Ryan chronicles a number of such relationships, including a yellow shrimp that gathers food while its partner gobi fish protects it from predators, and a species of hermit crab that carries a pink anemone on top of its shell. Fish and octopuses like to feed on hermit crabs, but when they approach this species, the anemone shoots out its brilliantly colored tentacles, with their microscopic batteries of poisoned darts, and sting the potential predator, encouraging it to look elsewhere for its meal. The warrior anemone gets something out of the relationship as well because it eats the crab’s leftover food.

But today’s understanding of cooperation in nature goes much deeper than the easily observable ones. Biologists are becoming increasingly aware that animals have coevolved, and continue to coexist, with diverse assemblages of microorganisms that are required for normal health and development, according to a recent article in Science called We Get By With A Little Help From Our (Little) Friends. [Ruby et al, 2004] The study of these relationships is now a rapidly growing field called Systems Biology.

** Tielhardism**

The next view is called Tielhardism. Being a spiritual person, I feel this is the direction evolution eventually needs to head in. However, I don't agree with this particular theory in full, although it has interesting ideas.

I do, however, feel that Tielhardism points out a short coming of Darwin’s idea. Once self-consciousness developed thoroughly enough and we gained a certain amount of knowledge, we became able to directly affect our evolution as a species. It really isn’t just “survival of the fittest” anymore. For example, a human that once would have died under a pure “survival of the fittest” reality, can now live through medical treatment. Also, unless you’re in a 3rd world country, we don’t really have to worry about food and water, or survival itself for that matter. As we progress as a society, I think this will only become more significant. In addition, through our current trend of “dominating” the planet, we are effecting the evolution of other species and even of the planet itself, in ways we never would without self-consciousness and its concomitant “behaviors”.

Of course, any atheist would probably claim Tielhardism has unneeded assumptions. Indeed, it probably does for science today, as we know of no way to test for a "spiritual realm". But, for those who have had spiritual experiences, it may be an interesting view to consider.

It is summed up well here:

Teilhardism starts out with a different set of premises: (1) we are enveloped in a spiritual world that is reflected in our consciousness, and (2) evolution proceeds by natural selection. Note that the second premise is the same as the second premise in evolutionary materialism, but because of the first premise, Teilhardism reaches entirely different conclusions about the significance of evolution:

1. [B]The most important feature in living creatures is their consciousness. [/B]Genes may play an important role in controlling our body structure and our health, but it is consciousness that gives each of us a personality.

2. [B]Evolution is progressive. [/B]The increase in the complexity of beings over time, especially the increase in neurological complexity, reflects an increase in consciousness and hence an increase in value. Therefore, evolution manifests progress; it represents the opening of life to the spiritual dimension.

3. [B]Consciousness has transcendent properties.[/B] There is an aspect of consciousness that ties us directly to the spiritual realm. Although our brain clearly produces certain features of our consciousness, other aspects such as inspiration, intuition, and creativity arise from outside our body. Consciousness is thus a phenomenon that may extend to some extent to all beings.

4. [B]Human life has great meaning. [/B]Because evolution involves the opening of life to the spiritual dimension, the goal of each human should be to manifest that spiritual dimension.

5. [B]Humans did not arise by chance.[/B] Self-consciousness is an important niche in nature. Life was certain to exploit this niche, as it also exploited all the other niches available. Just as the ability to fly evolved at least four times (as in insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats), it is certain that evolution would have found a way to occupy the niche of self-consciousness.

To conclude, the dominant paradigm today is Darwinian. However, the more we learn about how each species ties back to each other and even back to the Earth, I think a gradual transition to a more Larmarckian view on evolution would ultimately help us. We are facing many problems in the world today from climate change to personal health issues like the cancer and diabetes epidemics, and much of this is a result of not living in harmony with our environment. A more Lamarackian view would encourage us to start living in harmony with the environment and nature, whereas the Darwinian view encourages us to “dominant” nature. In fact, I think this transition has already started taking place, as evolution is already not purely viewed as “survival of the fittest”.

Ultimately, if there is a spiritual world, I think it has to exist interdependently with the physical world and somehow mesh up with either our current laws of physics, or whatever shape new theories take in the future. To me, that means we will eventually be able to “test” for it, at least indirectly. If this is the case, then later on a more spiritual view of evolution may even be required. Perhaps, the Tielhardism view has some resemblance to what that theory might eventually look like.

In the interest of length and not putting folks to sleep, I’ll stop here ;-)

Any thoughts?

edit on 13-6-2011 by EthanT because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 05:28 PM
None of the above, minor fluctuations and adaptations are driven by survival of the fittest, but the origin of species is driven by Solar Radiation and Magnetic Reversals. This is of course not a populist theory.

Still a good writeup, and it's great that you are questioning the horrible flaws in Darwinian Evolutionary Theory. S&F

Perhaps you should include some theories that aren't so mainstream.
edit on 13-6-2011 by Tephra because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 10:30 PM

Originally posted by EthanT
It focuses more on communities and their interdependencies, rather than "survival of the fittest".

Originally posted by Tephra
None of the above, minor fluctuations and adaptations are driven by survival of the fittest,
I'm thinking that since you folks are using the phrase "survival of the fittest", that you're not evolutionary biologists. Perhaps you should study what evolutionary biologists think before tossing out their theories. They don't like to even use that term, and it's somewhat of a misnomer, that's not really the basis for evolution:

Survival of the fittest

The phrase "survival of the fittest" is not generally used by modern biologists as the term does not accurately convey the meaning of natural selection, the term biologists use and prefer. Natural selection refers to differential reproduction as a function of traits that have a genetic basis. "Survival of the fittest" is inaccurate for two important reasons. First, survival is merely a normal prerequisite to reproduction. Second, fitness has specialized meaning in biology different from how the word is used in popular culture. In population genetics, fitness refers to differential reproduction. "Fitness" does not refer to whether an individual is "physically fit" – bigger, faster or stronger – or "better" in any subjective sense. It refers to a difference in reproductive rate from one generation to the next.[6]

An interpretation of the phrase "survival of the fittest" to mean "only the fittest organisms will prevail" (a view sometimes derided as "Social Darwinism") is not consistent with the actual theory of evolution.
Understanding the theory you are rejecting should be a prerequisite for rejecting it. I'm not sure either of you understand what you are rejecting.

Do you think you're smarter than evolutionary biologists? It's fact that they don't all agree with each other. EthanT, you even post an external source describing the Darwin view, and it says nothing about survival of the fittest. And yes it's pretty widely accepted now that Darwin's views were not perfect, but then nothing in science is static, that's what makes it science, it can be influenced by new discoveries and evidence. That's what you need to present to convince evolutionary biologists that they're wrong. They may be wrong about something, but without evidence you probably won't have much luck convincing them of that.

Ethan, please note you forgot to include sources for your external material:

Mod Note : Posting Work Written by others

Mod Note (This Appears On Every New Thread/Post Reply Page): Please Use snippets and links for external content

posted on Jun, 14 2011 @ 12:01 AM

Originally posted by Arbitrageur
Do you think you're smarter than evolutionary biologists? It's fact that they don't all agree with each other. EthanT, you even post an external source describing the Darwin view, and it says nothing about survival of the fittest. And yes it's pretty widely accepted now that Darwin's views were not perfect, but then nothing in science is static, that's what makes it science, it can be influenced by new discoveries and evidence. That's what you need to present to convince evolutionary biologists that they're wrong. They may be wrong about something, but without evidence you probably won't have much luck convincing them of that.

Hi Arbitrageur,

First, I wasn't trying to reject or accept any specific view. The point of my post was to discuss three popular views that I just happened to look into today.

Nor was my goal to specifically refute the scientifically accepeted full view of evolution, as it stands today (or any other view) I just offered my opinion that it is incomplete, as any evolutionary biologist would admit. I just happen to think it is even more incomplete than they realize, and the same goes for the other views.

I mentioned near the top of the post that I was going talk about three different views on evolution in absolute terms, none of which fully represent the actual theory of evolution.

I also stated later that the Darwin view does not fully represent the actual theory of evolution. And, I even said that the Darwin view is sometimes simply called "survival of the fittest". In other words, it is simply referred to in that way, but not actually representative of the full content of the theory. As you you yourself pointed out, my "off-site content" description supports this.

Hopefully, where I was coming from is more clear now.

Lastly, I don't claim to be an expert on evolution. And, I would love to hear all viewpoints on this, including non-mainstream views.

As far as sources. They came from all over and I didn't think of writing them down. I'll try and find them if I have time later. I'll remember that for next time, though, sorry.

posted on Jun, 14 2011 @ 07:28 PM
reply to post by Arbitrageur

Smarter? Than some probably, do I have the same degree as them? No.

Actually in the instance I used it, I meant survival of the fittest, as I was in disagreement with the entirety of natural selection as the wheel of evolution.

Just because it's popular theory, with mountains of government cash behind it, still doesn't make it fact. Whether you suckle on the government science nipple or not.

posted on Jun, 17 2011 @ 09:02 AM
reply to post by Tephra

Just out of curiosity, are there any specifics of the popular evolution theory that you disagree with?

I know when I was younger, I instinctually disagreed with the notion that Chimpanzees and humans were directly related. As was claimed back then. I figured that the split went back much further, possibly even before Pro-Simians.

And nowadays, turns out that I'm not the only one that thinks that. There's genetic evidence between human DNA and chimpanzee DNA that the break off between the species is prior to Pro-Simians.

Another specific commonality that I still disagree with is teeth. The old version of evolution is that people claimed that humans just lost their fangs because they ate a vegetarian diet. If you notice all apes, all old world monkeys, even chimpanzees have fangs. Humans don't. Chimpanzees eat a primary vegetarian diet for millions of years, yet they never lost their fangs. So that can't be the case with humans either.

Or the specific commonality with the idea of hair. People always draw the human as a past ape covered from head to toe with hair, that just "lost" most of the hair on the human body when walking on land. Evolution of hair doesn't happen that way. The longer an animal is on land, the more hair they grow on their body as an evolutionary response to protect skin from damaging bands of radiation in the sun. The exceptions would be mammals in water (sea mammals) or land mammals that reside in water most of the day, such as hippopotamuses. Mammals in water either don't grow their hair or lose their hair because water protects their skin from the harmful radiation.

Therefore humans most likely had some water-based form of evolution in the past where their bodies were in water (becoming bald) and hair still covering their heads. So those pictures of hairy past apes turning into bald humans should be bald humans with even less hair coming out of water, and gaining more hair to protect ourselves from the sun.

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