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Han Hua (Alan)

Student - B.E - Computer Engineering, TEDtoChina

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Can Theory of Evolution explain the existence of salmon fish? If it can't, does God exist?

A friend of mine ask me this question.

Look up salmon fish as a nitrogen pump. Weathering from rain will only 1-way wash nitrogen compounds downwards to the sea. Nitrogen is necessary for vegetation to grow. That is the basis for fertilizers. If all of the nitrogen are washed away, there will not be life in the mountains.

This is where a very special type of fish, the salmon, are designed, not for its own benefit, but for the benefit of life on the planet, to spend 3-5 years in the deep ocean eating proteins, which contain nitrogen in the amino acids. Then, like a pre-programmed guided vehicle, all the salmons remember to return to their birthplace high in the mountain streams, to breed and to die. 100% of them will never go back to the sea again. The nitrogen in their proteins will be eaten, and the bears will shit in the deep forests, and that is how nitrogen is replaced so we have life and forests in the mountains.

Question is evolution cannot explain this development of a very special fish, because there is no survival advantage for the salmon to return so high in the mountains. The benefit is for the planet. So is there a Power actually control the universe, like God?

You may refer to some materials:
http://www.thinksalmon.com/learn/science/salmon_forest/
http://www.biol.wwu.edu/hooper/Helfield%26Naiman2001Ecol_Salmon-derivedN%26ForestGrowth.pdf

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    Dec 19 2011: Of course there is a survival advantage. If they bred somewhere else, there would be a much much lower survival rate of the eggs. With this relatively isolated breeding place they assure safety for the cute little salmons.
    Another thing: explaining nitrogen circulation with ONLY this is absolutely not right. What about all the plant proteins and animal proteins biodegrading naturally in the forests? Acidic rain containing nitrogen? Human interactions? There are thousands of things which make up for this complexity. Salmon migration is one (actually a really amazing) phenomenon, which clearly contributes, but the effect really is tiny.

    There is an awful lot of things we cannot yet explain. Migration is one of them, although there are novel researches, which try to investigate how birds, fish, insects, whales migrate. Observing terrestrial objects, such as coastlines? Migrating with the help of stars and objects on the sky? Magnetic system like in pigeons - so they can find their way when it is cloudy? There are many amazing ways how these creatures migrate. Blaming the whole phenomenon to God is just ignoring many many actually interesting explanations. So what is the right attitude? Searching for some amazing evolutionary causes or saying "Bah... Who cares? It was God..."?
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      Dec 19 2011: Thank you, Tibor. Your answer is reasonable, but if we look further, we will still find questions.

      As what you said, they bred there because of higher survival rate of eggs. However, actually why should they choose there? Are there no other places safer than those mountain streams? Why do all salmons choose the same option? Why don't they bring children under their protection?

      I don't mean we should not respect science. My friend and I are very technical people, but we sometimes feel there is a power in nature, because something shown are too delicate to be true.
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        Dec 20 2011: As to why they make the trip to the mountains.

        I like to think the Salmon like the view and the fresh air of elevation. Is that not a reasonable assumption?
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      Dec 22 2011: Question Tibor: According to the study cited in my post above salmon contribute 22 to 24% of foliar nitrogen. That is not consistent with your assertion that the "effect really is tiny."
      As interesting as this is, I continue to be uncertain about the connection to proving, or disproving, God's existence.
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        Dec 23 2011: Near the streams! That's a huge difference.
        But you know... I spend my Christmas at home, in Hungary. And I started to think: there is no salmon in Hungary (no sea, no high mountaines), how come nitrogen is still circulating? Because honestly, it does! :)
        That is why I think that there may be really efficient circulations and in special cases highly developed systems such as the salmon can happen, but it contributes just a little globally.
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          Dec 23 2011: Thanks, Tibor, and Merry Christmas there in Hungary!
          Mr. Hua's question does not say that salmon are the only method of nitrogen distribution.
          I don't think the absence of salmon in Hungary nullifies the question.
          I think the question challenges the pre-supposition that survival is the driving force behind gradual changes over eons of time from a common ancestor.
          There seems to be no obvious benefit to salmon survival derived from their suicide.
          The question is why, when in prime physical condition, do they kill themselves in order to survive?

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