Reasons Behind the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

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Persecrates
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Post by Persecrates » August 17th, 2010, 6:53 pm

Alun wrote:I probably should've said environmental pressure on reproductive success, or something similar.

I do not think it means that. The section of the argument where I mention 'reproductive pressure' only means that there is some mechanism which responds to the pressure, not that the mechanism is a decision mechanism, a teleological mechanism, or any mechanism which does not involve those elements. Earlier parts of the argument (having to do with DNA and mutation) offer the evidence of how the mechanism operates--and I take them to show that it operates without deciding to pursue a purpose.
As a scientific theory, NS must give causes for mechanism to happen.
So, my questions were and still are:
What mechanism(s) allow for modification, creation or elimination of specific genes at specific time in a specific environment? (What is this mechanism? Not only giving it a name (environmental/reproductive pressure), but a substance, to describe it)
What is the causation between this environmental pressure and the actual modification of the genome?

If you can't provide answers, your conclusion C1-3) (If a mutation does not help an organism reproduce, there will not be any pressure for that change in genetic information to promulgate.) is simply circular thinking and/or speculation.
Because environmental/reproductive pressure would be defined by: (a mechanism that induce) "a mutation that helps an organism to reproduce".

It lacks at least a premise or pre-conclusion (more like 2) yet to be demonstrated. the existence of: "(environmental pressure is) a cause (here it seems it cannot be a mechanism per se) for a mechanism that allows for a (combination of) gene(s) to change, be modified, created or eliminated".
Am I right?

Also, your C2-4 conclusion: Species can diverge due to reproductive pressure, would be meaningless as there is no definition, no explanation for the nature of this "reproductive pressure".

You can't claim a mechanism to exist if this mechanism is not identified, explained... And if no cause is provided.

It's not really your fault (although you could have noticed it by yourself), it simply means that NS is incomplete at best.

I knew you wanted me to read this thread for something like this to happen... It's not about challenge, it's about another (fresh, logical) pespective... One that allows you to include doubts and hopes in this "theory" (hypothesis, in fact).

Wowbagger
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Post by Wowbagger » August 17th, 2010, 7:48 pm

Persecrates wrote: As a scientific theory, NS must give causes for mechanism to happen.
So, my questions were and still are:
What mechanism(s) allow for modification, creation or elimination of specific genes at specific time in a specific environment? (What is this mechanism? Not only giving it a name (environmental/reproductive pressure), but a substance, to describe it)
What is the causation between this environmental pressure and the actual modification of the genome?
There is no guided reaction to environmental challenges (the only exception being epigenetics, but it's irrelevant in this discussion and unnecessarily complicated).

Variation is produced by reshufling of the genes (in sexually reproducing organisms) and by mutations, which are random. They do have causes, cosmic rays, toxic elements and so on, but not guided causes. The 'creative material' comes that way, the selection process does the rest.

Most mutations are of no effect at all. Many are bad for the organism, yet by simple statistics, some turn out to be beneficial and are thus favored. Add stuff like the Baldwin effect and you get a decent, gradual slope of small changes, each step an improvement, that over generations leads to new features and adaptation to a changing environment.

Persecrates
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Post by Persecrates » August 17th, 2010, 9:13 pm

Wowbagger wrote:
Persecrates wrote: As a scientific theory, NS must give causes for mechanism to happen.
So, my questions were and still are:
What mechanism(s) allow for modification, creation or elimination of specific genes at specific time in a specific environment? (What is this mechanism? Not only giving it a name (environmental/reproductive pressure), but a substance, to describe it)
What is the causation between this environmental pressure and the actual modification of the genome?
There is no guided reaction to environmental challenges (the only exception being epigenetics, but it's irrelevant in this discussion and unnecessarily complicated).
I've never said there was a "guided reaction".
I simply state that there may be some yet unidentified.
Variation is produced by reshufling of the genes (in sexually reproducing organisms) and by mutations, which are random. They do have causes, cosmic rays, toxic elements and so on, but not guided causes. The 'creative material' comes that way, the selection process does the rest.
If there is a "reshuffling" (random), it still doesn't provide a cause for the mechanism called "environmental/reprodutive pressure". Randomness is not a cause it is the apparent lack of one.
I know it's trendy to qualify randomness as an inherent "natural" cause nowadays, but it's not (a cognitive) one.

Independently from "environmental/pressure", the causes you give can satisfy me as they are an environmental (direct) actions on organisms. So, you see there are causes. Their occurrence cannot be random then.
They are not predicted due to our current knowlege of such causes, but they are NOT unpredictable by nature though.

Still, this is why I say that, in the current state of our knowledge on the causes and occurrences of cosmic rays, toxic or simply assimilated ("neutral") elements... We cannot qualify the theory of evolution and NS as theories but hypotheses.

But, there is still 2 problems with the apparent unpredicted causes you give:

1- It doesn't suffice to claim the causes of genetic mutation may be due to cosmic rays, one has to PROVE it to make it a scientific hypothesis.
Better, one has to prove and identify ALL the causes and verify if they explain ALL mutations ("naturally") occurring.

So, second point:
- They seem to don't explain ALL actual mutations... It's addressed in the course of the thread.

So, not only there is a uncertainty on the identified causes for mutations to happen, there may be more yet to be explained...
It doesn't look like a scientific/empirical reality at all to me.

And if it was only a direct action of the environment, why don't we observe countless of useless or damaging mutations occurring in organisms living in their biotopes or studied "in vitro" (those occurring in-vitro are either intended by genetic manipulation or intended by exposition to high doses of radiations)?
Most mutations are of no effect at all. Many are bad for the organism, yet by simple statistics, some turn out to be beneficial and are thus favored. Add stuff like the Baldwin effect and you get a decent, gradual slope of small changes, each step an improvement, that over generations leads to new features and adaptation to a changing environment.
Favored by what?
There can be no "adaptation" in an uncontrolled/unguided process. That's a logical non-sense... Or an a-posteriori constatation. We believe there has been an adptation simply because organisms are here, now and they are "adapted" to (in fact simply live in) a environment E.

As we believe evolution to be true, then we deduce that the organisms living today must have been the result of an adaptation. It's circular thinking.

And you seem wrong in your interpretation of the concept of "adaptation" (above all if you couple it with the Baldwin effect as you suggest) since it seems to mean: guided change through accumulated knowledge.

Scientists can't arbitrarily decide to don't provide real causes for this ADAPTATION to occur. And if it was truly "random" why the genes are kept (transmitted) then??
What "decides" if this (combination of) genes is more beneficial than another??


The Baldwin effect "places emphasis on the fact that the sustained behavior of a species or group can shape the evolution of that species".

Could that mean that a(n individual of a) species can influence the modification of its own genome?
Could a speciecies shape its evolution by reshaping its genome?
Well, it seems that yes: "Selected offspring would tend to have an increased capacity for learning new skills rather than being confined to genetically coded, relatively fixed abilities."

Would that mean that they can do more/better than their genome allows? :shock:
Or could that mean they can improve their own genome and therefore benefiting new skills?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_effect

Or should we use an other term to describe this phenomenom?
Also we must accept that the concept of "the survival of the fittest" is not predictable either, yet. Therefore NS is NOt a (scientific) theory.

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Post by Wowbagger » August 17th, 2010, 10:56 pm

Persecrates wrote:
If there is a "reshuffling" (random), it still doesn't provide a cause for the mechanism called "environmental/reprodutive pressure".
Why do you bring up environmental/reproductive pressure? These terms together are part of natural selection, which, combined with mutations, leads to adaptation (evolution).

Organisms have more offspring than needed to keep their numbers constant. Offspring varies genetically. Resources are limited, thus, it comes to competition. Because of the developing 'environmental/reproductive' pressure, on average, the better equipped organisms tend to survive.
Persecrates wrote:
So, you see there are causes. Their occurrence cannot be random then.
They are not predicted due to our current knowlege of such causes, but they are NOT unpredictable by nature though.
Yeah, that's what I said. Like throwing a dice, you can't predict the outcome, but of course, it is somehow determined, or, if determinism doesn't apply (doesn't matter for that discussion), at least caused to fall a certain way. It still makes sense to call it 'random' though, as opposed to 'guided', we just have to agree on what is meant.
Persecrates wrote:
Still, this is why I say that, in the current state of our knowledge on the causes and occurrences of cosmic rays, toxic or simply assimilated ("neutral") elements... We cannot qualify the theory of evolution and NS as theories but hypotheses.
That's like saying we can't explain how a car works because we don't have an exact model of how the up quarks interact with the down quarks in the nucleus of a hydrogen atom in a gasoline hydrocarbon molecule.
Persecrates wrote:
1- It doesn't suffice to claim the causes of genetic mutation may be due to cosmic rays, one has to PROVE it to make it a scientific hypothesis.
Better, one has to prove and identify ALL the causes and verify if they explain ALL mutations ("naturally") occurring.
Ockham's razor.
Persecrates wrote:
So, second point:
- They seem to don't explain ALL actual mutations... It's addressed in the course of the thread.
There's gene transfer, viral insertions and recently genetic engineering too. Other than that, I doubt there's anything else.
Persecrates wrote:
And if it was only a direct action of the environment, why don't we observe countless of useless or damaging mutations occurring in organisms living in their biotopes or studied "in vitro" (those occurring in-vitro are either intended by genetic manipulation or intended by exposition to high doses of radiations)?
Direct action of the environment? It's just entropy at it's work. You can't keep systems organized to perfection, sometimes errors happen. Anyway, it does happen in nature, just not as often as you think. Humans are born with on average 3 mutations. Most of time, as I said, they're all indifferent because the happen in places where the DNA doesn't even get transcribed.

Furthermore, most of the bad mutations are never noticed, because they lead to early natural abortion during pregnancy.

You're forgetting the timescale. Evolution took place for 3.5 billions of years, there need to be very few beneficial mutations per decade or even century to make a huge difference over time. And keep in mind, species consist of thousands of individuals, it may happen in any of them.
Persecrates wrote:
Favored by what? [Regarding beneficial mutations]
There can be no "adaptation" in an uncontrolled/unguided process. That's a logical non-sense... Or an a-posteriori constatation. We believe there has been an adptation simply because organisms are here, now and they are "adapted" to (in fact simply live in) a environment E.
By natural selection! By being beneficial, they increase the organism's chances of survival and reproduction. Thus, on average, they get passed on to the next generation more often than competing alleles. Thus, they can become, one starting out as single mutations, the norm in the gene pool. Of course, through chance events, even an invidual with great mutations can die, by i.e. getting hit by an unexpected coconut. The point is statistical, yet very real and powerful, as can be shown by computer simulations - even with very conservative assumptions.
Persecrates wrote:
As we believe evolution to be true, then we deduce that the organisms living today must have been the result of an adaptation. It's circular thinking.
Not how it works. Common descent is supported by overwhelming evidence in comparative anatomy, embryology, molecular comparison, DNA comparison (i.e. ERV distribution), vestigial remains, fossil evidence, evolution in action (ring species, bacteria evolving resistance, speciation events) and geographical distribution.
Persecrates wrote:
And you seem wrong in your interpretation of the concept of "adaptation" (above all if you couple it with the Baldwin effect as you suggest) since it seems to mean: guided change through accumulated knowledge.
Forget about the Baldwin effect. It's complicated and irrelevant in this context. I mentioned it because it accelerates natural selection. It's not needed though, it only applies in exceptional cases.
Persecrates wrote: And if it was truly "random" why the genes are kept (transmitted) then??
What "decides" if this (combination of) genes is more beneficial than another??[/b][/u]
The ones that are 'kept' are the ones that manage to get passed on to the next generation. Meaning they make their 'carrier individual' mate successfully. A mutations that alters an important step in a molecular metabolism cascade by i.e. changing the 3D shape of an enzyme can have fatal consequences for the organism. The organism thus dies in infancy, and obviously, such a gene is not kept.

If however a gene has a good effect, i.e. by making the 3D shape of an important enzyme a bit more effective, this could lead to an organism that has more endurance or strenght than others, or is better at reducing it's toxine level or something, and thus, the genes has a better chance at getting passed on.
Persecrates wrote:
Would that mean that they can do more/better than their genome allows? :shock:
Or could that mean they can improve their own genome and therefore benefiting new skills?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_effect
No, none of that. As I said it's irrelevant for the discussion. To be honest, I had to read about it at least three times until I understood the concept. Don't worry about it, we can discuss it after you understand the rest. If you disagree with the easy stuff, it doesn't make sense to talk about something complicated.
Persecrates wrote:
Or should we use an other term to describe this phenomenom?
Also we must accept that the concept of "the survival of the fittest" is not predictable either, yet. Therefore NS is NOt a (scientific) theory.
I can't follow your reasoning. It is to some extent predictable, there are some general trends in evolution that are confirmed by the fossil record (i.e. in times of lots of oxygen in the air, insects grew bigger; island dwarfism and giantism, birds losing wings on islands, animals living in cave losing their eye function, predators and prey becoming faster, life in general tending to become bigger etc..).

It all makes a lot of sense. Of course, one can't predict exactly what, and how it all happened/will happen. That really doesn't matter though.

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Alun
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Post by Alun » August 18th, 2010, 12:13 am

Persecrates wrote:As a scientific theory, NS must give causes for mechanism to happen.
The mechanism for genome change is argued in sections 2 & 3. Are you asking for a mechanism for environmental pressure? What do you mean by substance?

All I meant by this statement: "C1-3) If a mutation does not help an organism reproduce, there will not be any pressure for that change in genetic information to promulgate."

Is that organisms with that mutation will not be more likely to survive. The term "pressure" has no more substance than that.
Persecrates wrote:So, my questions were and still are:
What mechanism(s) allow for modification, creation or elimination of specific genes at specific time in a specific environment?
There is no evidence of such a specific mechanism; evolution doesn't happen on a dime or in a specified way.
"I have nothing new to teach the world" -Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

Meleagar
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Post by Meleagar » August 18th, 2010, 11:37 am

Wowbagger wrote:That's like saying we can't explain how a car works because we don't have an exact model of how the up quarks interact with the down quarks in the nucleus of a hydrogen atom in a gasoline hydrocarbon molecule.


No, it's not, because there isn't a theory of "how a car works" that requires that the subatomic interaction you mention is "random", as opposed to "guided". If evolutionary theorists do not want to have to back up their assertion that the mutational variance sufficient to generate known biological outcomes is in fact "random", they shouldn't make the claim that it is. They should just call it mutational variance, not "random" mutational variance.
Ockham's razor.
Ockham's razor is a principle of reducing necessary entities. In order to solve the combinatorial problem involved in finding necessary, functioning sequences of amino acids, the "random mutation" theorist must posit - as individual necessary entities - an incredibly large number of individual favorable chance events, individuated as isolated, blind events that are not specifically organized by an organizing sufficient cause.

The design theorist, however, must only posit one necessary entity. IOW, what is the more efficient answer for the existence of a car? That a lot of individual random elements coincided; or that a designing intelligence organized the construction of the car?

It would be a different story if the functionally specified, complex information found in biology could be accounted for by determined or stochastic processes, but so far it cannot, and there is really no hope that it can.
There's gene transfer, viral insertions and recently genetic engineering too. Other than that, I doubt there's anything else.
Epigenetics.
Direct action of the environment? It's just entropy at it's work. You can't keep systems organized to perfection, sometimes errors happen. Anyway, it does happen in nature, just not as often as you think. Humans are born with on average 3 mutations. Most of time, as I said, they're all indifferent because the happen in places where the DNA doesn't even get transcribed.
So, if the general pattern of genetic variation is entropy, doesn't that indicate that life began with a very highly ordered genetic code? I mean, billions of years of genetic entropy, and we go from a simple single-celled creature, or even a strand of RNA, and we end up with humans that can produce virtually infinite neg-entropy on demand? What accounts for this incredible increase in specific kinds of order (carbon, information, etc.)? Random bombardments of meteorites, sunlight, and cosmic rays?
You're forgetting the timescale. Evolution took place for 3.5 billions of years, there need to be very few beneficial mutations per decade or even century to make a huge difference over time. And keep in mind, species consist of thousands of individuals, it may happen in any of them.
"Just-so" stories of deep time and variation rates are not explanations; they are stories. Please refer us to research that demonstrates that random mutation and natural selection even in principle has the creative sorting capacity to generate novel, complex, functioning taxonomies like stereoscopic vision or winged flight from scratch, given the time and resources available in our universe.
By natural selection! By being beneficial, they increase the organism's chances of survival and reproduction.
Please tell us, or refer us, to research that demonstrates that natural selection, as a mutation sorting process, has the algorithmic power it is claimed to have. Otherwise, it is just an unevidenced tautology.
The point is statistical, yet very real and powerful, as can be shown by computer simulations - even with very conservative assumptions.
Please tell us which computer "simulation" of evolutionary processes provides an accurate representation of the success of random mutation and natural selection.
Not how it works. Common descent is supported by overwhelming evidence in comparative anatomy, embryology, molecular comparison, DNA comparison (i.e. ERV distribution), vestigial remains, fossil evidence, evolution in action (ring species, bacteria evolving resistance, speciation events) and geographical distribution.
Common Descent is only a part of current evolutionary theory; it is not all of it. Common descent can be true, and it can also be true that evolution (or parts of it) was intelligently guided. For example, humans have been using selective breeding for thousands of years to create all sorts of domesticated biological orgnanism without violating common descent or applying any deliberate genetic variances (which we do now with genetic engineering); however, one cannot call the product of selective breeding "natural", because it is the converse - artificial.

In any event, while there is considerable supportive evidence for common descent, there are IMO at least enough substantial problems to warrant some skepticism.
The ones that are 'kept' are the ones that manage to get passed on to the next generation. Meaning they make their 'carrier individual' mate successfully.
Except in the case of neutral mutations, which don't affect the fecundity of the animal.
If however a gene has a good effect, i.e. by making the 3D shape of an important enzyme a bit more effective, this could lead to an organism that has more endurance or strenght than others, or is better at reducing it's toxine level or something, and thus, the genes has a better chance at getting passed on.
It would be interesting to see how you fit epigenetics into this explanation.
No, none of that. As I said it's irrelevant for the discussion.
I hardly think that the existence of extra-genomic system processes that interact with the environment, thus changing how coded sequences from the genome are interpreted, and what meta-system must exist which runs that system, describing when and how to read sequences forward or backward, or when to change the formal order, can be considered "irrelevant". Such meta-interpretive extra-genomic systems increase the combinatorial problem faced by "random mutation" theorists.

It all makes a lot of sense. Of course, one can't predict exactly what, and how it all happened/will happen. That really doesn't matter though.
Until someone at least presents a formal explanation of how random mutation and natural selection can in principle generate anything more than very minor selective successes, extrapolating the micro (species and sub-species level variance) into the macro (major taxonomic building of novel, complex, functioning systems, such as winged flight and stereoscopic vision), then all one has is an assertion that it is the same process.

IOW, unless the success of A+B=C is formally shown to be capable in principle of getting to Z, we don't know that Z is even in the same category as C. Claiming that one can walk to the corner store in 15 minutes might make it seem raeasonable to believe that, given enough time, one can walk to any location; but that is simply not true. One must demonstrate that at least one significant (major taxa) target location is, in principle, accessible to "walking" from a proposed simple cell origin.

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Post by Wowbagger » August 18th, 2010, 4:34 pm

Meleagar wrote:
If evolutionary theorists do not want to have to back up their assertion that the mutational variance sufficient to generate known biological outcomes is in fact "random", they shouldn't make the claim that it is. They should just call it mutational variance, not "random" mutational variance.
How on earth could it be guided? How would a genome know where exactly a mutation should happen? Genetics works very complicated, not according to some easy Bauplan where there's 1 gene for each function. Sometimes half a dozen of genes are responsible for certain features because they enhance and repress each other. If you want it guided (more than just the rudimentary processes of epigenetics, which are incapable of producing complex, new design but work on preexisting structures), then you need intelligence!

Now why would anyone have to 'disprove' that it was done by an intelligence? Again, Ockham's razor. Do you suggest I should disprove the existance of God (which is impossible, I might as well try to disprove pink flying unicorns) in order to verify evolution? Unguidedness is the default assumption, anything else would be an outrageous freaking miracle. If it is guided, go ahead and find evidence for it, it shouldn't be that hard, you could show it statistically. Since there is no apparent pattern of it being guided, it is unguided until there's evidence to the contrary.
Meleagar wrote:
Ockham's razor is a principle of reducing necessary entities. In order to solve the combinatorial problem involved in finding necessary, functioning sequences of amino acids, the "random mutation" theorist must posit - as individual necessary entities - an incredibly large number of individual favorable chance events, individuated as isolated, blind events that are not specifically organized by an organizing sufficient cause.
You seem to have troubles imagining it. I don't think you get how it works. It's explained vividly and in detail in the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW1rVGgFzWU

Accidentally, it also mentions how eyes and wings might have evolved.
Meleagar wrote:
The design theorist, however, must only posit one necessary entity. IOW, what is the more efficient answer for the existence of a car? That a lot of individual random elements coincided; or that a designing intelligence organized the construction of the car?
And where did the designer come from? Ockham's razor again, you postulate more than you can explain. If there was a designer, you would see it. What you would NOT see is a larynx nerve in the giraffe that's supposed to go just a few inches from upper neck to larynx. Instead, it goes all the way down, more than 5 feet, makes a U-turn around the heart arteria, and then comes up the whole neck again. Is that intelligently designed?

Another such example: The human eye has the nerve tissue on the 'wrong' side, light actually passes through this tissue and gets distorted before it hits the eye. Furthermore, the nerves need to leave the eye to get to the brain, and they do so by forming a blind spot, where they all pass through the retina. Blind spot? Unnecessary, another mistake in design.

Then there are flat fishes with extremely distorted skulls. They dwell on the ground _-shaped. The sensible explanation is that they evolved from 0-shaped ancestors, which for some reason, probably camauflage, did well laying on the ground like that, and through a series of mutations, the eye slowly wandered upwards (transitional fossils of that process exist). What a moronic designer would design something with a distorted skull, that eventually, one eye is pretty much below the other one?
Meleagar wrote:
Epigenetics. [As another mechanism to produce mutations]
Kind of, altough in a limited way. As far as I understand it, no new muations are being created, it's only a 'reshuffling' and activation of specific sequences, introns and tandem repeats, which already exist, just aren't active. I've never looked deep into the subject though.
Meleagar wrote:
So, if the general pattern of genetic variation is entropy, doesn't that indicate that life began with a very highly ordered genetic code?
No. Sunlight is the source of energy. Life is not a closed system, a lot of heat and energy is emitted from organisms, drifts into the atmosphere and becomes diluted. Overall, entropy always increases. The beauty of the genetic code is that it's digital. Errors are 'corrected' by natural selection, only indifferent mutations and improvements make it through.
Meleagar wrote:
"Just-so" stories of deep time and variation rates are not explanations; they are stories.
It's not just a story. It's an obvious conclusion.

Small changes happen from time to time. There's a huge amount of time. -> Lots of small changes happen. -> As a result, big changes can happen. Watch the video I posted above.
Meleagar wrote:
Please refer us to research that demonstrates that random mutation and natural selection even in principle has the creative sorting capacity to generate novel, complex, functioning taxonomies like stereoscopic vision or winged flight from scratch, given the time and resources available in our universe.
Even if it wasn't at all obvious, it would still be the default assumption and sufficient enough for a scientific theory. As long as it's not design, what else could it be? Fortunately, it is obvious. http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/ridl ... he_eye.asp
Meleagar wrote:
In any event, while there is considerable supportive evidence for common descent, there are IMO at least enough substantial problems to warrant some skepticism.
Trust me, there isn't. There's hardly a thing in science that's more certain. If I really have to, I can spell out some of the most convincing arguments of common descent. I'm tired of it though, so many creationists on the web... Like an invasion.
Meleagar wrote:
I hardly think that t he existence of extra-genomic system processes that interact with the environment, thus changing how coded sequences from the genome are interpreted, and what meta-system must exist which runs that system, describing when and how to read sequences forward or backward, or when to change the formal order, can be considered "irrelevant". Such meta-interpretive extra-genomic systems increase the combinatorial problem faced by "random mutation" theorists.
What are you talking about? The context was the Baldwin effect, and what you write certainly isn't about the Baldwin effect. It kinda sounds like epigenetics, but I still don't understand it.

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Post by Meleagar » August 18th, 2010, 6:03 pm

Wowbagger,

I see that you have not directed me to what I asked for: a formal, factual, rigorous(read: mathematical) description that shows at least in principle that RM & NS are up to the task of generating major taxonomic features (like: winged flight or stereoscopic vision) from scratch.

My only rational conclusion is that you cannot, which is why you attempted to have your assertion validated by fiat (claiming it as a default position), by shifting the burden (insisting I prove otherwise), appealing to incredulity ("How on earth could it be guided?"), and appealing to belief (trust me ...").

Your argument that intelligent design is refuted by the presence of arguable bad design has no more warrant than a similar claim that, because your response was badly designed, it shows it wasn't intelligently designed at all.

Please feel free to refer me, at any time, to the rigorous research that demonstrates how random mutation and natural selection are sufficient mutation and selection mechanisms to generate major taxonomic features as I previously mentioned - from scratch, in the time frame allowed (@15 billion years) and under the resource available in our universe to gain the result.

Asserting that random mutation and natural selection "can" do it, and that it is "obvious" or "the default position", is not demonstrating anything.

BTW, the video assumes the goal is accessible by climbing; it doesn't demonstrate that it is.

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Alun
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Post by Alun » August 18th, 2010, 7:11 pm

Meleagar wrote:I asked for: a formal, factual, rigorous(read: mathematical) description that shows at least in principle that RM & NS are up to the task of generating major taxonomic features (like: winged flight or stereoscopic vision) from scratch.
Here's a 40 year-old example which gives evidence that observed mutation rates roughly match what life would need to evolve at observed rates given the observed selective effects of environmental pressure, as long as most mutations do not impact the factor for natural selection (pdf). This 15 year old article article expands on the mathematical models of the first. This book specifically goes into a discussion of the evolution of flight (the link is to a preview of that chapter in Google Books).

I admit that the models in the first two links are simplified; there are more general trends in evolutionary change that modern biologists consider important. But the devil is not in the details, I don't think.
"I have nothing new to teach the world" -Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

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Post by Meleagar » August 18th, 2010, 11:30 pm

Alun wrote: Here's a 40 year-old example which gives evidence that observed mutation rates roughly match what life would need to evolve at observed rates given the observed selective effects of environmental pressure, as long as most mutations do not impact the factor for natural selection (pdf).

This 15 year old article article expands on the mathematical models of the first. This book specifically goes into a discussion of the evolution of flight (the link is to a preview of that chapter in Google Books).

I admit that the models in the first two links are simplified; there are more general trends in evolutionary change that modern biologists consider important. But the devil is not in the details, I don't think.
Alun,


After reading the first paper and realizing it is irrelevant to the challenge (nobody is challenging that mutations occur, or how fast they occur, and nobody is challenging that natural selection occurs, or what the specific rate of neutral mutation is), I'm certainly not going to go on another wild-goose chase. If you have evidence that meets the challenge, please resource it and quote some pertinent parts that demonstrate it does what you say.

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Post by Alun » August 19th, 2010, 1:42 pm

From the first paper:
Kimura et al, 1968 wrote:during the evolutionary history of mammals, amino-acid substitution has taken place roughly at the rate of one amino-acid change in 10^7 yr for a chain consisting of some 140 amino-acids
In other words, DNA has actually changed at that rate for mammals.

They go on to infer a formula for evolutionary change which is directed by a factor for natural selection, from which they conclude that most mutations would need to be neutral with respect to the natural selection factor. If mutations happen often enough, and with enough neutral mutations, then their formula can explain mammalian evolution at a genetic level. Then they say:
Kimura et al wrote:Such a high rate of neutral mutations is perhaps not surprising, for Mukai has demonstrated that in Drosophila [fruit flies] the total mutation rate for "viability polygenes" which on the average depress the fitness by about 2 percent reaches at least some 35 percent per gamete. This is a much higher rate than previously considered.
I.e. there is evidence that mutation happens fast enough, and with enough neutral mutations, for the formula to produce the genetic change observed in mammals.
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Meleagar
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Post by Meleagar » August 19th, 2010, 2:39 pm

Alun,

Let's posit that Kimura has, in fact, established that the number of mutations that actually occur credibly matches the number of variances found between the genome of two species, after one takes into account the number of variances that natural selection would remove.

Three questions:

(1) How does Kimura establish that the mutations are in fact (or at least, in principle) random?

(2) How does Kimura establish that the different genomic sequences in fact (or at least, in principle) are the sufficient and necessary causation of the major taxonomic variances?

(3) How does Kimura establish that the selection methodology for taxonomic success is in fact (or at least in principle) natural, and not artificial?

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Post by Alun » August 19th, 2010, 3:11 pm

The paper headed by Kimura doesn't establish those facts; I was addressing the concern you voiced above, not making the entire argument for the viability of natural selection via one 3 page paper. If you want, I can search for some papers on the mechanics of mutations and the mechanics of genomic relations to DNA. I've already given experimental evidence that goes toward the capacity of non-artificial environmental forces to induce evolution.
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Post by Meleagar » August 19th, 2010, 3:59 pm

Alun wrote:The paper headed by Kimura doesn't establish those facts ...
Then it is irrelevant to my challenge.

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Post by Alun » August 19th, 2010, 8:17 pm

No, it isn't. Meleagar, it's not like every paper that discusses evolution is going to refer to the entire body of evidence for/against the non-artificiality of environmental forces and mutation. I explained to you how that paper was relevant; clearly the premises it takes for granted also need to be demonstrated, but that is not what that particular paper is about. Give me a little time, and I'll try and dig up some background to make the picture more comprehensive.
"I have nothing new to teach the world" -Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi

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