TED Conversations

James Zediana

This conversation is closed.

Choose Pro or Con and discuss

Darwin's Theory of Evolution - The Premise
Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds and the bananas, the fishes and the flowers -- all related. Darwin's general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) "descent with modification". That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism's genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival -- a process known as "natural selection." These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature).

Share:
  • thumb
    Sep 30 2012: Natural Selection modifies creatures to fit their environment. To extrapolate this observed phenomena to cover the design & build of different species; which is not observed; is a leap of faith too far.

    CON

    :-)
    • Oct 1 2012: It's too much of a stretch to assume that evolution doesn't just stop at aome arbitrary level (while there are absolutely no indications that it does), but it's okay to assume that that means some invisible bearded skygod designed everything?

      Man, I guess some people were stuck at the back of the line when the invisible bearded skygod was handing out the ability to think logically.
      • thumb
        Oct 2 2012: Ask any animal breeder. Change does most certainly stop abruptly when all the existing variations are exhausted.

        :-)
        • Oct 2 2012: I'll ask people who breed dogs, pigs and cows to point out to me how their animals are exactly the same as their wild ancestors, I'm sure there's a wild chiuahua living in the rainforests of Borneo...

          If a wolf can be turned into a chihuahua in a couple of thousand years then imagine what could happen in 500 million years, oh wait, Darwin already did that for you.
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: Variations/breeds yes, evolution no they are still dogs. When I moved to florida with my parents that first summer sucked after that not so much I addapted to my enviornment but I did not evolve.
      • thumb
        Oct 3 2012: A wolf can be turned into a chihuahua because a wolf has chihuahua DNA. Try turning a chihuahua into a wolf. Not so easy; most of the DNA variation has gone. A wolf & a chihuahua are both dogs, & are interfertile, try getting a snake from a wolf. Not in a billion years.

        :-)
        • Oct 3 2012: There is no such thing as "wolf DNA" or "chihuahua DNA" or "snake DNA". DNA is the same in all animals, it's just arranged differently. A wolf still contains all the DNA of his fish ancestors, in fact most of it is still in the same place doing the exact same thing. The difference between a snake and a wolf is even smaller. The visual differences between animals are like the visual themes in Windows, only skin deep, all the complex stuff (brain chemistry, digestion, regeneration, nerve system, etc...) are basically the same from fish to humans. In a human the smallest genetic difference can cover you with fur, make you grow huge incissors, change your skin color, make you grow a sixth finger on your hand, make you grow a tail. As with software you have small pieces of DNA controlling larger pieces, a mutation in one of those control pieces will trigger huge changes in the body that would require many mutations if you were only working on the base level.

          I sense that you are not genuinely interested in how evolution works, all you seem to do is throw some inaccurate statements around that I have to correct. If you were genuinely interested you would have asked genuine questions to me or a biologist or just opened a textbook. It's intellectual lazyness to just declare everything you don't have an answer to untrue, if you would just have taken the effort of contacting a biologist and askinh him your questions you wouldn't be stuck like you are now.
      • thumb
        Oct 3 2012: I don't think I'm stuck John. I understand the hardware is the same for most creatures. After all, we have to live on the same planet. The software is however different. We cannot be experts at everything. I listen to the differing views of biologists & come to my own conclusions. For those closely involved in biology it is sometimes difficult to see the big picture.
        My particular thing is mechanical engineering, & I know just how difficult it is to get systems to work. When I look at the nano-engineering involved in biology I am very skeptical of claims that it had no designer. It was more believable in Darwin's day, but today, with modern insite, it is looking very unlikely indeed. We are looking at technology that is light years ahead of anything we can dream up. It's awesome & exciting; we can look at, & learn from, stuff created by intelligence so much greater than our own. We need to embrace the opportunity.

        :-)
    • thumb
      Oct 3 2012: Thank you for your reply
    • thumb
      Oct 3 2012: Hello Peter, my view is PRO evolution, however, i want to follow your train of thought. So you are saying that natural selection will produce variations (and hence adaptation) within a single species, correct?

      I assume that you are also saying that this variation has its origins in DNA differences, correct?

      So if i read correctly, you are saying that variation is constrained within a species, what then is an example of a non-plausible jump?, in other words, how do we define a separate species that would not be possible by natural selection?
      • thumb
        Oct 4 2012: Excelent question that gets to the heart of the debate.

        The problem is evolution requires a species to change to another (fish to a bird).

        Keep chasing this line of thought
      • thumb
        Oct 4 2012: Hi Andres.
        You interpret my points correctly.
        Let's take James's fish to bird example.
        I think the original fish would have coding for (let's say), among other things, scales. There may be coding to allow the scales to vary in size, thickness, colour, shape, orientation, etc etc. All the attributes of the fish would have similar variables coded into the original DNA. As time goes by the fish may swim in different waters & natural selection would favour some of the attributes over others. Some may become fresh water, & others salt water. Some live in the tropics, some at the poles. Some of the attributes used in shallow water may fall into disuse in deep water & eventually be lost entirely.
        So over a relatively short time we may have dozens of different looking fish types; or species , if you will. They did not however 'evolve', they were 'selected'. They are still running on the original; now slightly watered down, DNA coding.
        If, for the sake of argument, we wanted to transform a fish to a bird, then we would require new coding to be written into the DNA; for feathers for example. In reality however this would be a mammoth task, as every part of the creature would need re-coded. Evolutionists are them selves split on the timescale of these transformations. My contention is that it's not going to happen, regardless of time. Even If the DNA went about coding itself, the resulting in-betweenies would be picked off by natural selection.
        I very much doubt however that mutating existing coding is going to have an advantageous effect. Each creature is built with such precision that thoughtful design is indispensable .
        This is my conclusion, after much listening to both sides. What's your take.?

        :-)
        • thumb
          Oct 4 2012: Thank you for your answer Peter. From what i have read over the years, Evolution and Selection are two different things. The change from wolf to chihuahua is evolution, to evolve essentially means simply "to change", and in the case of the dog the mechanism driving this change was human selection. And yes, what is different between a chihuahua and a wolf are pieces of their DNA. But don't think that the number of differences is small... there is no single dna gene for "dog height" that changed a little and a dna gene for color that changed a little and a dna gene for agressiveness that changed a little. There were indeed a miriad of changes in the dna code. again, mostly driven by human selection

          Any dog breeder will tell you that sometimes they find offspring that develop a severe alteration (blindness, deafness) this starts to hint that the genes in the new generation now contain differences (when compared with previous generations) in areas of the dna code that are more important to vital functions. A blind or deaf dog needs a lot more care in order to survive.

          (to be continued)
        • thumb
          Oct 4 2012: (cont.)

          One of the beauties of modern genetic biology, is that it is possible to study the dna of a particular fish species, and compare it to the dna of a particular mice species (let me jump from bird to mouse since this is the example i have read in the literature). They can see areas where the dna is completely different, and they can see long strains of dna that are identical. They then trace what some of the seemingly identical dna does as the embryo grows into a full fledged creature. Common sense says that one would expect it to be silent, otherwise either the fish would develop some mouse attributes or viceversa. But what they have found is that this identical dna that one would expect to be silent, is actually very active. In one case, they have traced a particular region of both embryos that uses this identical dna (the way they test it is when they remove it, neither the fish or the mouse embryos develop this region). As the embryo develops, other smaller variations of dna make this region to become a fully formed gill in the fish, where as it becomes the middle ear bones in the mouse.

          what i am trying to say is that there is no map between dna and a fully formed adult, but rather, identical dna can be used in different ways in different species
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: Which proves changes in breeds but not evolution. The fish is a fish not a bird.
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2012: Hi Andres.
        I guess if the definition of evolution is change over time then we all believe in evolution. Evolution however claims to have developed complex organisms from simpler organisms. If this is actually occurring then the programming in the DNA must be going from simple to complex as well.
        I have no idea whether this is occurring or not; & I don't really think anybody does. So it really becomes a matter of faith. There are 'experts' on both sides.
        Thankfully there are many different fields we can explore which help us with the overall picture. It is up to each one of us to come to our own conclusions; there are few cast-iron certainties in life.

        :-)
        • Oct 5 2012: The only increases in complexity where the transition from prokaryotic single cell organisms to eukaryotic single cell organisms and from single cell life to multi cell life. Everything else is just in the eye of the beholder. Humans have a smarter brain than crocodiles but crocodiles have a more complex, more effective immune system and it's entirely possible the human brain's blueprint in our DNA is relatively simple (there may be a great deal of repetition and only a few rules that when combined make for a very efficient computer). The Paris Japonica flower has 47 times more base pairs then human DNA.
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: I like your answer Peter and it is the one I've been looking for. We don't know by science or our understanding. No matter what the experts say, right now there is no proof for evolution beyond a doubt. There is some awesome data and learning to come. I can't wait. Right now it is a theory. A theory is an educated guess, but still a guess. Proff changes a theory to laws of science. With this comment I start the next debate and look forward to learning.
      • thumb
        Oct 5 2012: Hi John.
        It seems fairly self evident that an eagle is more complex than a worm, & a human more complex than a starfish. All life is awesome & pretty much beyond our comprehension . Our main problem lies with admitting that fact. All we have is an ability for imagination. Whether that imagination bears any relation to fact is difficult for us to ascertain.

        :-)
        • Oct 5 2012: "It seems fairly self evident that an eagle is more complex than a worm"

          Why? The worm has more effective regenerative capabilities and may have an incredibly complex immune system. Worms are just as evolved as eagles, they've just followed a different path.
        • thumb
          Oct 5 2012: Hi Peter,

          I am a scientist at heart, a phycisist, more specifically. I don't think your point of view and mine are too different when it comes to the awe with which we look at life around ourselves and marvel at its complexity.

          A few hundred years ago, Newton was able to explain why the planets orbit the sun the way it was observed. It was a triumph of the human intellect. There were, however, some obervations that did not quite match his predictions. In particular, mercury did not appear to follow quite exactly the same rule as the other planets. At that time, and for a long time eafter, these obervations were beyond anybody's comprehension. Pretty much like many of the facts regarding life's complexity that today marvel us.

          But once in a while, somebody makes a small breakthrough, Einstein, in this case, was able to advance our knowledge that little bit beyond Newton, and develop a theory that was able to predict correctly the orbits of all planets, Mercury included.

          What i am trying to say is that it is precisely that wonder about the unknown that drives the greatest advances in our scientific search for knowledge, and many things that are not understood today are there awaiting for those among us who yearn to understand them at a deeper level
      • thumb
        Oct 6 2012: Hi John.
        The worm & the eagle are both very good at what they do. I see where you're coming from that one is just as 'evolved' as the other. I do not believe in evolution. To me they were both designed & built for their purpose; to me the eagle is a more involved design. Just a common sense observation.

        Hi Andres.
        I agree entirely.We are discovering things which are amazing all the time. There seems to be a rumour around that those who believe in a creator god have no interest in how things work. I think the reverse. The reason that we can understand any of this is that this ability is within us. It gives weight to the biblical claim that we are related to the creator. We also have an innate curiosity which drives us on. The fact that we are alive here in such a wonderful universe speaks volumes. Whatever the truth is must, by definition, be awesome!

        :-)
        • Oct 8 2012: "to me the eagle is a more involved design."

          To you that may be so

          "Just a common sense observation."

          That it is not. You assume "closer to humans" means more complicated but does it really matter if complexity is visible in the structure of an eagle eye or hidden in an invincible worm immune system? A mathematician would smack you over the head for suggesting 123456 contains more information than 654321...
  • Oct 4 2012: "Darwin's general theory presumes the development of life from non-life "

    No it doesn't. Darwin provided lots and lots of evidence from different disciplines showing that evolution happens. That species are related to other species by common ancestry. He proposed a mechanism (natural selection), and ventured that perhaps the whole of life might be descendant from a single life form in the past, but that part was a proposition, not a conclusion. The big idea, but for others to further test. Yet, he established quite clearly the common ancestry of many organisms. Among them our obvious common ancestry with the rest of the apes.

    He also proposed, but, again, that's not part of the theory of evolution (and not what he established either), that maybe life originated from "non-life." Perhaps in some "warm pond." But he did not provide evidence for that. He clearly stated that as a possibility, as a speculation. We have to distinguish what Darwin was able to demonstrate (common ancestry for a lot of organisms), from what he proposed out of thinking beyond what his data was able to show.

    Anyway, there is no choosing. Evolution is a fact. Common ancestry across species is a fact. Natural selection is factually an important mechanism of evolution.

    That's it.
  • thumb
    Oct 12 2012: We have not yet known about the planetoid called Pluto long enough to witness one full orbit. Yet we have enough evidence and understanding to calculate a plutonian year is 248 earth years.

    We also have not observed the formation of a particular star from birth to death. Yet we have the knowledge to estimate how long until our sun burns out.

    Some of he arguments below are that if you have not witnessed entire process of something, be it speciation, or the orbit of Pluto, or the formation of stars and planets, then there is no proof, regardless of how much evidence and successful predictions.
  • thumb
    Oct 10 2012: There is also sexual selection.

    There is also variation. Not just mutations.

    Evolution is basically a change in gene frequencies in various populations.

    If you want to doubt the science that is your choice. It's a well established theory. With evidence. That makes predictions that have been proven. With a mechanism that is capable of supporting adaption over time such that a present population may not be able to breed with its ancesestors or other populations with common decent.

    It is so elegant. And the tree of life is mapped out for all to see the physical relationships, and also supported by DNA.

    Odd how vertebrae have similar skeletons, 4 limbs, camera eyes, sexual reproduction etc. odd how the great apes share so much DNA with humans. Odd how our 2nd chromosome have signs of being a merged chromosome, indicating in the past we had the Same number as other apes.

    Your key argument seems to be denying adaptations leading to new species over time.

    If current scienctific evidence and explanations are not enough that is your choice.

    I'm a pretty skeptical person and was of evolution. The more I examined from a scientific perspective I the more I was convinced. Each to their own.
  • Dan F 50+

    • +1
    Oct 9 2012: Pro biological evolution

    Darwin believed biological evolution explained the origin of species. He observed different species appeared to be from the same parent stock, or a split off from the main population into a separate ecological niche as a subspecies and ultimately a separate new species. Darwin's study of the radiation of Galapagos finches illustrated how biological evolution made this possible.

    He reasoned a mechanism of inheritance (genetics - discovered subsequently) provided variation in the traits exhibited by the offspring and that the survival of the species was a consequence of natural selective pressure which would tend to weed out individuals less fit for the rigors to the niche they depended on for survival. Darwin explains the interacting factors supporting his theory to be brief with my comments.

    The beauty of this theory is in its eloquent simplicity and the subsequent blossoming of new fields of knowledge adding to the appreciation and intricate nature of this basic theory. Comparative anatomy, genetics, embryology, biochemistry, ecology, natural history, paleobiology, and others areas of specialized study interlock extending the science behind the theory.

    The value and application of this theory is all around us.

    Disputing this theory in light of the advanced and elaborate knowledge on the subject seems ludicrous.
  • Oct 8 2012: James,

    You said:
    "Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature)"

    Your description is mostly all right for a very short summary of processes leading to evolution. But here I have to ask: do you mean here that the "entirely different creature" is something like having first some ancient ape population, it divides, some go to one habitat, some to another, with time the process you describe drives the descendants of one population to be a lot like chimps, the other to be a lot like gorillas. Are chimps and gorillas "entirely different" by your definition? If not entirely different, then can I assume that this evolution is acceptable to you?

    Whatever your answer above, how do you define a barrier or a point for creatures to be "entirely different"?
  • thumb
    Oct 1 2012: Everything in Biology appears to be designed, yet evolutionists claim nothing was designed but came about by natural selection of random mutations over eons of time. Richard Dawkins, a militantly Atheist evolutionist scientist wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.” One of the discoverers of the double helix DNA structure said, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see is not designed.”--Francis Crick. When a piece of ancient pottery is discovered it is accepted as a designed thing. But, when a biological truth is discovered the possibility of it being designed is ignored. All life must be evolved, not designed. Evolution promotes naturalistic thinking while rejecting logical thinking. Without the Theory of Evolution the only remaining explanations for the origin of life would be those based upon a Creator, thus the reason for its existence. One vote for CON.
  • Oct 12 2012: Why the big fuss?

    Shit happens, thus,

    Creation did too.

    It had to!!!

    And then it evolved, is my guess,

    Because something has to start somewhere (for Christ's sake!)

    In order to progress.

    Science and religion have both failed

    At delivering the truth of either tale,

    And I seriously doubt they ever will

    Before we come to the end of until.

    Someone famous said, "something, we don't know, is doing, we don't know what."

    But it works, it really does, thus it just is.
    And now the present,
    is, isn't.
  • thumb
    Oct 3 2012: Darwin's theory was "incomplete," is what I hear Kauffman say when I was fortunate enough to have heard him speak. Here is the video of the talk:
    http://www.youtube.com/v/bn1gqxvwN1k?autoplay=1&rel=0&enablejsapi=1&playerapiid=ytplayer

    This was a shorten version of a talk he delivered it MIT in October 2011.

    http://necsi.edu/video/kauffman.html

    "Radical Emergence: Swim bladder as New Adjacent Possible Empty Niche was NOT SELECTED AS A NICHE. YET IT CHANGES THE POSSIBLE DIRECTIONS OF EVOLUTION AS A WORM OR BACTERIUM MAY EVOLVE TO LIVE IN IT. But this means that WITHOUT SELECTION, the biosphere CREATES ITS OWN FUTURE POSSIBILITIES OF BECOMING! (how far from Newton we are)."
    • thumb
      Oct 4 2012: Excelent point. Hence why I have a second debate on Neo-Darwininism to discuss current views on evolution. I am looking for proof in evolution not theories to better understand. Hence why I am asking for these debates and choosing the con side of the arguement. I am forcing the pros to make a real arguement not just because. I want to make a good decision on this but I am finding lacking evidence.

      Please continue to input.
    • Dan F 50+

      • +1
      Oct 11 2012: Hi Theodore I listened to the talk you posted.

      Darwin's use of the words natural selection is in application to how it is a factor in directing biological evolution regarding a given species. Kauffman identifies the consequence of that process (swim bladder) as a a byproduct of biological evolution which in turn created a potential new niche for possibly a bacterium or a worm.

      The new potential niche is clearly an independent consequence of biological evolution and outside the factors that direct evolution. Natural selection is not directed at creating a niche. That is best described as a byproduct of changes in an organism as a result of biological evolution under the influence of natural selection.

      A biological niche is a big deal in evolution because no two species can occupy the same niche. A new niche that results from biological evolution (swim bladder) means potentially a new species could evolve into it, via biological evolution. It is also possible an existing species could expand into it because the niche is similar enough to one already occupied provided the species is able to gain access.

      Kauffman's point is this only adds to the difficultly in predicting future changes in the biosphere as compared to how nice and clean many things can be measured and predicted in the field of physics.

      So I still contend the beauty of Darwin's theory is in its eloquent simplicity in explaining the basic factors directing biological evolution.

      Am I missing something?
      • thumb
        Oct 11 2012: I believe you have a correct understanding, but I will question whether the niche does not evolve because the niche "will" be occupied, and is therefore pre adapted by that pressure as well. Saying that it "may" be occupied seems to open up the niche to randomness.
        When Kauffman says that selection had nothing to do with making a new possible niche he is suggesting this from the perspective of the evolving fish and not from the perspective of what is evolving in the niche.
        So, does the biosphere building its own future direction of becoming?
        • Dan F 50+

          • +1
          Oct 11 2012: Hi Theodore,

          You are a cerebral person so at my own risk let me see if I can follow you and Mr. Kauffman.

          First, I'm sure we agree the concept of a biological niche is an essential factor in what make biological evolution a science.

          Now, I want to re-track a bit. A biological niche is occupied by a species by definition. That has an equation aspect to it. It is well documented it's possible to modify the niche to the point the species is eradicated or the species can be eliminated. So those dynamics are documented and dissectible although not necessarily easy to nail down.

          So on high speed let's rewind and replay a video observing earlier natural history unfold. It would be obvious that as living things made their way out of water onto land they were able to biologically evolve into previously unoccupied potential life support niches and establish a break away from the parent population to a new species - and up with the phylogenic tree, which caught the attention of Charles Darwin and his theory to explain how all this came about.

          Kauffman is taking this to a new level, but to my mind it doesn't alter the concepts of biological evolution rather opens it up to more subtle subsets of changes within the process that give rise to other changes that in turn create new opportunity that affects the unpredictability of the biosphere's blossoming. Does this not reinforce the basic theory as the causative agent for his esoteric observation of life diversification "outside" natural selection? I think so.

          Incidentally this did make my brain hurt a little and I appreciate your indulgence.
      • thumb
        Oct 11 2012: Excellent discussion points (my reference is @ 24:35 of the first link, the UMV talk).
        I'll not disagree with what you are presenting here.
        I guess my point is how complexity plays into all this. David Christian's "Big History" talk mentions "Goldilocks conditions", where things must be "just right" in order for complexity to occur.

        "We refer in big history to these moments as threshold moments. And at each threshold, the going gets tougher. The complex things get more fragile, more vulnerable; the Goldilocks conditions get more stringent, and it's more difficult to create complexity."

        How you viewed this TEDTalk by Martin Hanczyc?
        http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_hanczyc_the_line_between_life_and_not_life.html

        He provided this thought:
        "We'll just take one example here: a virus is a natural system, right? But it's very simple. It's very simplistic. It doesn't really satisfy all the requirements, it doesn't have all the characteristics of living systems and is in fact a parasite on other living systems in order to, say, reproduce and evolve."

        It is these conditions that become "dynamic" that interest me.
        • Oct 12 2012: I made a couple of comments on Martin Hanczyc talk. I'd appreciate your feedback.

          The beauty of this subject is there are different angles to examine what's going on. A talk by Drew Berry: Animations of... posted 1/12 offers a visual look at biological evolution from a visual animated perspective. It's humbling to realize the vastness of this unseen world. Its a short talk, but excellent. The actual animation person is David Goodsell. If you missed this somehow its a mind boggling peek at the dynamics of molecular world as it relates to helping to appreciating just how exotic the living organic world is at this level of operation as it relates to evolution.
  • thumb
    Oct 2 2012: Many of the responses here demonstrate a limited understanding of the theory of evolution. There is a widely held belief that natural selection happens on an individual basis and this is probable never the case. An example might be to ask whether the bacteria in one's stomach exist for our benefit or whether we exist for its benefit, and to which of these would natural selection occur if not to both in someway?
    See the work of Stuart Kauffman.
    He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for applying models of Boolean networks to simplified genetic circuits. His hypotheses stating that cell types are attractors of such networks, and that genetic regulatory networks are "critical" have found experimental support."
    • thumb
      Oct 3 2012: There is a widely held belief that natural selection happens on an individual basis and this is probable never the case.

      What would be the factor influencing multiple individuals to all have multiple mutations exactly the same?

      The example you give is a singular and not multiple example.

      Stuart Kauffman talks about society changing and not organisims (based on ten articles with word search on evolution)

      As for your response are you pro or con and why?
      • Oct 4 2012: Why do you assume that the factors will select for exactly the same mutation? A problem you have in your understanding of evolution (misunderstanding), is that you think that the mutations leading to some adaptations are necessarily unique. That's far from reality. Many different mutations might have similar effects.

        Within a population there's variability. If some of such variation survives better in a given environment, or under some catastrophic event, or when a population moves into a new niche, then the individuals harbouring those variations best suited for such circumstances will have a much higher probability of surviving and reproducing. Since they are the ones to reproduce, their versions of genes are the ones multiplied and combined together if sexually reproducing. Thus, the successful mutations become prevalent in the new population. This multiplies the probabilities of new combinations of successful genes, thus potentiating the evolutionary events.

        The above has been demonstrated both mathematically, and in lab experiments on directed evolution, where, for example, scientists can obtain proteins with new and improved activities towards new substrates. Random mutations are induced, then put under selecting environments, then survivors recombined, and the speed to get new and tremendous activities increases enormously compared to evolution without recombination.
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: The reason I suggest this is because most mutations are not helpful (your misunderstanding). The few that are, also need to work with each other to cause a change significant enough to be considered evolution from a monkey to human or lizard to bird. I agree in controlled enviornments there have been many examples of helful mutations but NONE that caused evolution.
        • Oct 8 2012: James, one peice of DNA can influence many different functions and parts of the body. An old neutral mutation can be activated by another mutation and together they can make a beneficial mutation. There are also many possible combinations of different mutations that will give the same result, it's like how you can hit the same note on a guitar with several different fret-string combinations. DNA has a simple structure with only 4 basic components that repeat over and over in different combinations, so a strand of 1000 base pairs may look a lot like another strand of 1000 base pairs with an entirely different function, one mutation can change things dramatically. It's basically a long list of instructions written in a 4 letter alphabet, if you let a dyslectic type it over many of his mistakes will just turn one valid word into another valid, not gibberish, word because there are only 4 letters.
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: Hi John.
          "" if you let a dyslectic type it over many of his mistakes will just turn one valid word into another valid, not gibberish, word because there are only 4 letters.""
          Do you honestly think that letting a dyslectic loose on a computer program may improve it ? It only has two 'letters', but there is precisely zero chance this would work.
          There is also the small matter of translation. If the cell has never seen a new instruction before, then how on earth does it know what to do with it ?

          :-)
        • Oct 8 2012: "Do you honestly think that letting a dyslectic loose on a computer program may improve it ? It only has two 'letters', but there is precisely zero chance this would work."

          That analogy doesn't work because a) in a computer program everything has to be in the right order, in biology you can often swap the order of two genes (groups of base pairs) without doing damage, b) all genes do is give instructions to form proteins, there is nowhere near the complexity of computer language in ones and zeros, c) the interdependence between different genes is not as great as it is in a computer program: remove one gene and the ribosomes will just skip ahead to the next, in a computer program this is not possible, d) much of the machinery required to function exists outside the DNA, in basic computer language all the instructions for stuff like writing to and fetching from memory, have to be included in the ones and zeroes themselves. Almost every combination of base pairs will create some protein, in a computer program you just get an error most of the time (most of the time this is actually do to the program failing predefined parameters, not acutal malfunction of your computer). A better analogy to DNA would be pieces of computer code that perform basic functions like addition and subtraction, if you then input something and don't define parameters for the output you will always get an output, instead of just a lot of error messages, whether it is a beneficial output remains to be seen but one mutation in the code won't lead to an error message anymore.

          "If the cell has never seen a new instruction before, then how on earth does it know what to do with it?"

          There are no "new" instructions, there are only, and only ever have been, instructions to make proteins, those proteins sticking together in new ways might create something new but that is not the job of the ribosomes in the cell, they just have to translate instructions to make proteins in some specific order.
      • Oct 8 2012: James,

        No misunderstanding on my part. Lots on yours. You base your argument on an assumption about what proportion of mutations you expect to be "beneficial" based on misusing data (data collected precisely because those mutations were problematic, rather than data on overall effects of mutations, I explained this in another answer to you and explained why we can know better. Namely, variability reflects that there are many mutations that don't have problematic effects, and that, given an environment, can be beneficial, think about it).

        But maybe we should go much easier, at a much more basic step. You asked:

        "What would be the factor influencing multiple individuals to all have multiple mutations exactly the same?"

        The factor is called inheritance (it happens when organism reproduce). A proper following question should be: why would they inherit beneficial mutations? But then you would, or should, quickly realize that the question suggests the answer, and you would have thus understood evolution.
  • thumb
    Oct 2 2012: I'm totally lost. I've read this thread for the past two days, and the question that is asked, with the supporting narrative for it trying to explain the question, leaves we wondering....

    Should I vote "Con" if I believe in Darwin's theory? Or if I don't believe in it?
    • thumb
      Oct 3 2012: Pro if you believe it; Con if you don't; I think.

      :-)
      • thumb
        Oct 3 2012: Exactly and support your conclusion would be nice
  • Oct 2 2012: Everything is an advancing, evolving creation.
    Both science and religion are wrong.
    So, a big Con to both.
    Because that's what they are.
    • thumb
      Oct 3 2012: Just looking at darwins theory of evolution. Pro or Con and why?
  • thumb

    Josh S

    • 0
    Oct 1 2012: I have multiple family members that specialize in medicine, particularly the eyes. They often tell me that most specialists in medicine have a hard time believing that natural selection brought about our eyes/ears/ etc.
    It makes logical sense, the basis of natural selection that is. We've seen it and studied it, species can adapt to their environment. However, most if not all of our observations involve a species simply favoring a certain allele.

    For example, my biology professor gave the example of how moths in britain began expressing dark wings because of pollution and environmental change. This makes sense, but the alleles never changed, just how much they are expressed.

    Buy anyways, my original point was that specialists (ill use eye specialists to demonstrate) find it nearly impossible to believe that the eye came around by change. Think of it this way: there are 100's of processes involved in our eyes and vision. If we are missing even a single process, we lose our vision. How logical is it to believe that those 100+ processes arose in 1 set of mutations. Because that must have been what happened if we believe in natural selection. After considering this, consider that the organism would have had to develop the brain capacity to even understand what the eyes were seeing.

    Evolutionists look to the various types of eyes in nature. But in reality, each variation of 'eye' each has its own different processes involved in seeing for each particular species. I find it unsettling that 100s of random mutations, all in 1 organism, had to be lucky enough to randomly create an 'eye' and brain with capacity to understand the images it recieved.

    I have to say con
    • Oct 1 2012: Where did your family members get their "education", Hogwarts or Liberty University? Any doctor would not say the things you just said they said. Assuming that a gene can only code for one function and not knowing that there exists all kinds of other types of eyes in nature (some work very different from ours, some our very primitive) are rookie mistakes that a doctor would not make.
  • thumb
    Sep 29 2012: I choose CON

    Darwin's Theory of Evolution - A Theory In Crisis
    Darwin's Theory of Evolution is a theory in crisis in light of the tremendous advances we've made in molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics over the past fifty years. We now know that there are in fact tens of thousands of irreducibly complex systems on the cellular level. Specified complexity pervades the microscopic biological world. Molecular biologist Michael Denton wrote, "Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10-12 grams, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machinery built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world."

    And we don't need a microscope to observe irreducible complexity. The eye, the ear and the heart are all examples of irreducible complexity, though they were not recognized as such in Darwin's day. Nevertheless, Darwin confessed, "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
    • thumb
      Sep 30 2012: "Evolution, a theory in crisis" by M. Denton... I've read this book when I was a teenager, ignoring everything about creationnists or their biased unscientific viewpoint. I remember thinking "whoa, our best scientific theory is in crisis!!! I better read that book".
      Of course, I learned nothing. It just stated, page after page, that evolution could not possibly explain awesome complexity. That's fine if you're a christian, since you instantaneously fill the blank. BZZZZ... GOD. But I wasn't religious and the author never mentions another way of explaining life, so I missed the point that was implied.
      I was fifteen but it didn't take long to figure out why it was implied and not explained : it was a book about opinion, not science. The theory of evolution was not in crisis, it's just that a guy named Denton had a hard time believing it. So did I. But I knew better than to rely on whether scientific theories were easy to grasp. Almost every phenomenum I was aware of wasn't explained by anything I would've thought possible.
      Then I bought "the wisdom of the genes" by C. Wills which, despite it's crap title is an awesome book. And THAT explained it to me. The fact that the universe was a strange place did not scare the author this time.

      Now, get ready for the actual quote by Darwin. This is ambarrassing, since it implies you've never read Darwin's On the Origins of Species, James, and only relied on creationist litterature...

      To be continued...
    • thumb
      Sep 30 2012: "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.
      —Charles Darwin, Origin of Species
      • thumb
        Oct 2 2012: First, did not bring God into discussion only evolution.

        As for reading it yes I have but used quickest quote I could find and it still doesn't change arguement and only reinforces it. So thank you!
        • thumb
          Oct 2 2012: Well the quickest quote you could find is probably the most famous fallacy of quoting out of context.
          So yeah it does have everything to do with the argument.

          I don't believe you've read "On the Origin of Species"... If you had, you'd probably have figured out that Darwin is not writing a book about the limits of natural selection to explain the complexity of life. You'd know it was exactly the opposite, even if you had read it a very long time ago and had forgotten everything about it.

          You did bring Intelligent Design into the discussion, but perhaps unintentionally. Perhaps you're unaware of the fact that you quoted one of its founding fathers... Kind of like if I didn't want to bring communism into a discussion about politics but quoted Karl Marx.
      • thumb
        Oct 3 2012: "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.
        —Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

        Still states Darwin does not believe natural selection could occur. If we quote the whole book or part we still come to his conclusion.

        natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.
        • thumb
          Oct 3 2012: No, no, no.... Damn.

          "absurd in the highest degree. Yet... "
          Yet!!!

          Darwin knows that the theory he's defending is counter-intuitive. But as a scientist he knows that deep explanations often seem absurd, such as the absurd idea that the earth is spinning really fast. Yet...

          And what's this you write ? -> "Still states Darwin does not believe natural selection could occur"
          So, you're saying that "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" (full title) is a bad choice of a title for his book, right? His editor should've given him a little guidance.
        • Oct 3 2012: There is a "seems" and there's a "yet." There's also the rest of the chapter describing "numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor." Charles was showing that mere assumptions against natural selection as a source for such complicated structures like the eye could be solved if only we looked carefully at the existence of such variations that show the existence of very simple to very complicated. He was arguing that mere incredulity was nothing against evidence.

          But, for some strange reason, creationists stop right where they can still misinterpret the text. I wonder why would they do so. Why such deep dishonesty?

          James, evolution is a very well established scientific theory. You have not debunked it at all. You have just repeated propaganda you read from someone else. This should be obvious if you consider how treacherously that quote was cut right at the point when we would expect that dreaded "Yet" and everything that follows. Does it really make sense to you that, if evolution were a theory in crisis, scientific circles would still talk about evolution as pretty much a fact? That scientists would not know if it is flawed? Seriously? Consider again the treachery of misquoting, then compare to the scientific endeavour. Even if I were ignorant of the theory, I would still trust the latter.
    • thumb
      Oct 5 2012: James... what changes does a dog breeder select in certain dogs over others?, i must say qualities, maybe color, maybe hair quality, correct?

      is this not due to a difference in the dna of each of the offspring?

      who is doing the selection here? if not the dog breeder?
      • thumb
        Oct 8 2012: Breeding is not evolution
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: you are absolutely correct, breeding is not evolution... breeding is selecting some offspring over others and by this deciding which one will pass genes to the next generation... correct?

          My question to you was: what is it that a breeder selects in his/her dogs?, and once you answer that question, the following question was: is that not due to a difference in the DNA?