Speciation and Language

Posted by Sumac on September 13, 1998 at 13:08:57:

Below, Joe Martin posted the following:

S- "How the speciation has occurred is irrelevant."

J- Isn't that tantamount to admitting the Creationist position, "evolution is only variation within kinds". Since when does science consider anything to be irrelevant? Are you not trying to say that some scientists consider it to be irrelevant?

S- Again, the difference is that scientific taxonomy is man's attempt to classify a continuum.

J- What is it called when man's taxonomy considers an important part of this continuum to be irrelevant?

Joe has managed to take two sentences from different discussions, put them together out of context, and completely misunderstand the points of each of the individual statements. The first was in reference to PK's misunderstanding that speciation by one mechanism is evolution while speciation of another is not. This is not true. Speciation by any mechanism is evolution. So, in the context of that discussion, the mechanism (i.e. "how") of speciation is irrelevant. Here is my full post from which the clipped quote was taken:

We can disagree on the details yet still agree on the general concepts. Evolution, in my mind, is simply a change in life over time. There are multiple mechanisms and types of change. If you have a problem with that definition, I'm sorry.

 Speciation is a mechanism of change. It causes one population to become two. Now each population is free to change independently of one another. How the speciation has occurred is irrelevant. The point is that what was one is now two. Again, evolution is not a mechanism of speciation, speciation is a mechanism of evolution (i.e change).

 You've probably already read Deb's post. I mostly agree with what she said. I just wouldn't use the definition of "a change in allele frequency over time".

The second part is just as bad. I was comparing the difference between man's taxonomy and God's given definition of "kind". The complete post containing the clipped sentence follows:

Again, the difference is that scientific taxonomy is man's attempt to classify a continuum. Of course it is going to be imperfect. "Kind" is a God-given term that should have a strict, invariable definition. Until you can define the term, you can not make statements like "evolution is only variation within kinds".

I never said species were irrelevant; I said the mechanism of speciation is irrelevant when defining evolution. There is a big difference there. And again, since "kind" is a God-given term, it must have an exact definition. Until that definition is stated clearly and plainly, it is impossible to say such things as all evolution is simply variation within kind.


First Response

Posted by MEYER on September 13, 1998 at 13:34:30:

Sumac : I never said species were irrelevant; I said the mechanism of speciation is irrelevant when defining evolution.

There is a big difference there. And again, since "kind" is a God-given term, it must have an exact definition. Until that definition is stated clearly and plainly, it is impossible to say such things as all evolution is simply variation within kind.

No, "kind" doesn't have to have a definitive definition, no more than 'species" or "evolution" does. You can't have the cake and speciate it too.
A few months ago I asked the question "what is the definition of evolution". The rule was "change in allele frequency over time". And most on here were hard headed about it until recently. What has changed? Why is biological evolution no longer a definitive statement? And species is not always definitive either.

If evolution is a precise theory, as Pat P told me, then the mechanism, or mechanisms of speciation IS relevant. If you can't define evolution or species precisely, then why should a creationist be held accountable for a definition of kind?

But what I really want to know is when did the scientific conspiracy bosses decide to make change in allele frequency over time an incomplete definition for evolution. And what are your bosses going to replace it with?


Response to MEYER

Posted by KSR on September 13, 1998 at 15:49:22:

If 'kind' doesn't have a precise, unambiguous definition, then how do you know one 'kind' from another 'kind?'


Response to KSR

Posted by MEYER on September 13, 1998 at 16:07:50:

you know what evolution is and what causes it, by speculating and guessing.


Response to MEYER

Posted by KSR on September 13, 1998 at 20:15:22:

So you are saying that you speculate and guess as to what a 'kind' is? What if say, Kevin speculates and guesses differently than you do? What do you base your speculations and guesses upon? Superficial appearances? Bones? Behavior? Ecological niche? KSR


Response to KSR

Posted by MEYER on September 13, 1998 at 20:48:41:

Yes.


Response to KSR

Posted by Kevin Kamberg on September 13, 1998 at 16:07:59:

If "evolution" doesn't have a precise, unambiguous definition, then how do you know purely naturalistic origins from Intelligent Design origins?


Response to Kevin

Posted by Frank on September 13, 1998 at 20:22:46:

describe the average human, physically, mentally, physiologically, etc.  Do you see the problem now when dealing with biologics?


Response to Kevin

Posted by KSR on September 13, 1998 at 20:10:55:

I have always thought Hardy-Weinberg addressed this.


Response to Kevin

because there is no evidence for "Intelligent Design"(nt) scott 16:40:13 9/13/98 (13)


Response to scott

Posted by Helen on September 13, 1998 at 16:46:15:

Well, I can see design. Are you telling me that it is unintelligent?

Response to Helen

Posted by scott on September 13, 1998 at 17:40:02:

you see design because you are required to. Even if it is 'design,' it is rather poor.


Response to Helen

Posted by Frank on September 13, 1998 at 16:59:34:

It was an evolutionary device that helped animals "see" that predator or prey hiding in the bushes. That you have it now is no great stretch.

Response to Frank

Posted by Helen on September 13, 1998 at 17:27:39:

If it were no great stretch, Frank, then even the most retarded, who operate on the level of trained animals, would recognize design. But that is not what we see. Instead, we use pattern and design recognition as tests of intelligence, because the ability to work with these on an abstract scale is uniquely human. And when we see design on the level of atomic structure, and then again on a universal scale, it does seem a bit much to think it is a holdover from animal evolution.


Response to Helen

Posted by scott on September 13, 1998 at 17:41:32:

you 'seeing' something is not evidence. Nor is philosophical rantings, nor are bible verses.


Response to scott

Posted by MEYER on September 13, 1998 at 17:55:09:

Where is the evidence for this statement Frank made; "it was an evolutionary device that helped animals "see" that predator or prey hiding in the bushes. That you have it now is no great stretch."

He made the assertion, Helen only argued his opinion. Where is the evidence that what we think of as "design" is only a biological trait that evolution was kind enough to give us?


Response to MEYER

Posted by scott on September 14, 1998 at 10:13:54:

When our daughter was born, we were deluged with wonderful gifts. One was a book on child development. One hint to calm a baby waking in its crib was to put simple line drawings of a face on a paper plate and hang it in the baby's view.

They would recognize the simple pattern of a face and be comforted. Sounds like pattern recognition in action to me.

Response to scott

Posted by Deb on September 14, 1998 at 14:32:17:

And it's the area between the bottom of the nose and the top of the eyes that is important, not even the whole face.  I did that for my daughter--stuck stylized drawings of the face parts on the hangy bits of an otherwise useless mobile, and she'd just lie there and grin up at them for hours.


Response to MEYER

Posted by Sumac on September 14, 1998 at 01:36:37:

MEYER: ... "kind" doesn't have to have a definitive definition...

If God created every creature according to its kind, then it must certainly have a precise definition. This is the boundary that Creationists want to put on variation. In order to say there is a boundary, you have to define where it is. Evolutionary theory states that there is no boundary so of course the dividing lines in classification systems will be fuzzy. That Creationists can not define kind only strengthens the idea that the boundary is imaginary.

A few months ago I asked the question "what is the definition of evolution". The rule was "change in allele frequency over time". And most on here were hard headed about it until recently. What has changed?

I remember your question. Did I answer? Sometimes things move so fast here that I can't remember if I actually posted something or just thought of something that I should post. I posted an answer to Mockingbird1's similar question below [note: Sumac linked to a post which is repeated as a footnote at the end of this thread]. I think our understanding of the subtleties of how evolution works is changing so rapidly these days that to say any theory is absolutely correct would be premature. I have always had reservations about the use of "a change in allele frequency" and have said so in the past.

If evolution is a precise theory, as Pat P told me, then the mechanism, or mechanisms of speciation IS relevant. If you can't define evolution or species precisely, then why should a creationist be held accountable for a definition of kind?

I personally don't think it is precise as some would like to believe. Mechanisms such as natural selection are very well defined and understood, but there is more to evolution than that. But just because our understanding is incomplete does not mean that evolution does not occur. Please see my comments about kinds above.

But what I really want to know is when did the scientific conspiracy bosses decide to make change in allele frequency over time an incomplete definition for evolution. And what are your bosses going to replace it with?

I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you.


Response to Sumac

Posted by MEYER on September 14, 1998 at 10:33:27:

Inherent in any model of evolution is the idea of common ancestry. That two species can arise from one is no longer in question. We have observed speciation events on numerous occasions. What is in question is the extent to which common ancestry can be assumed or extrapolated.

That's right, we all have ancestors that can't be argued. Our ancestors as ape like animals is in question.

If God created every creature according to its kind, then it must certainly have a precise definition.

No it doesn't "have" to. I agree it would be nice, but it's something that may never have a definite definition.


Second Response

Posted by Mockingbird1 on September 13, 1998 at 16:26:44:

S: The first was in reference to PK's misunderstanding that speciation by one mechanism is evolution while speciation of another is not. This is not true. Speciation by any mechanism is evolution.

PK: Apparently there are different meanings of the word 'evolution'. For some, it is the interaction of mutation and natural selection which yields changes w/in a population over generations; as I understand Frank's position, this is a minority opinion held by evolutionists on this board. Others hold the notion that evolution is the entirety of scientifc knowledge of how organisms interact biologically and probably even more. This 'expanded' notion of evolution seems to be that held by most of the evolutionists here.

PK: The problem I have with the expanded notion (which I've recently discovered) is its uselessness. W/ an expanded notion, there is no falsifiability, since every discovery contributes to the base of knowledge. On the other hand, evolutionists can honestly(?) claim that evolution is the basis for all advances in biology and medicine. On the other hand, I don't see how they could really be concerned about their evolution being pulled out of public schools since that would mean no biology class.


Response to Mockingbird

Posted by Sumac on September 14, 1998 at 01:42:00:

PK: Apparently there are different meanings of the word 'evolution'. For some, it is the interaction of mutation and natural selection which yields changes w/in a population over generations ... Others hold the notion that evolution is the entirety of scientifc knowledge of how organisms interact biologically and probably even more.

I finally answered your question "What is evolution?" below [note: Sumac linked to another post which is given as a footnote to this thread.] . I think I fall somewhere in between, but you can decide for yourself.

The problem I have with the expanded notion (which I've recently discovered) is its uselessness. W/ an expanded notion, there is no falsifiability, since every discovery contributes to the base of knowledge. On the other hand, evolutionists can honestly(?) claim that evolution is the basis for all advances in biology and medicine.

There is certainly a falsifiable aspect to theories of evolution. For instance, a human fossil or artifact in rock that was dated to 500 million years old would put some serious doubt on the reliability of current models. As Paul R. has been trying to show, evolution allows for predictions to be made and tested. If the predictions do not match the tests, then there is something wrong with the theory and it must be modified. What's wrong with that? That's how science works. I'm not sure that evolutionists can claim that evolution is the basis of all advances in biology and medicine, but there has certainly been a great contribution. Our understanding of natural and artificial selection alone has contributed much and that is only a portion of evolutionary theory.


Response to Sumac

Posted by Mockingbird1 on September 14, 1998 at 12:05:00:

S: There is certainly a falsifiable aspect to theories of evolution. For instance, a human fossil or artifact in rock that was dated to 500 million years old would put some serious doubt on the reliability of current models.

PK: (major humor on)The problem here is that evolution is what evolutionist know. Since evolutionists, like everybody else, knows that early reptile-bird transitionals were more birdlike than some of the later reptile-bird transitionals, and since evolutionists, like everybody else, know that early Neanderthals were more 'modern' than later Neanderthals, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that one or two very modern human fossils are 500 million years old. Obviously, there were very few in comparison to the dinosaur predators, or whatever else kind of fossils of the time. This is because the human life form was ill-adapted for that environment. Evolution should never be doubted because it is always right; it is always right because it is all-encompassing. (major humor off)

PK: Seriously, no evolutionist (well, maybe Frank) would concede there is any basis for a serious review of the theory under any imaginable condition, even that.

Sumac’s reference to the definition of evolution:

There is 'evolution' and then there are 'theories of evolution'. Evolution is the change that has occurred to life over time. There is no disputing that evolution has occurred. Many species that are alive today were not alive 100 million years ago (or any arbitrary number in the distant past). Many species that were alive and fluorishing 100 million years ago (ditto parenthetical) are extinct today. There has been a change in the forms and diversity of life over the history of earth. That is 'evolution'.

In contrast, the 'theories of evolution' are man-made, scientific constructs that attempt to explain how evolution has occurred. There are several theories that are not all mutually exclusive. A major component of most - if not all - evolutionary theories is the mechanism of natural selection (I won't describe natural selection since I assume most of the people reading these pages know what it is). Natural selection has been observed on enough occasions to be considered a fact, so any reasonable theory must incorporate it into the model. Other mechanisms such as random genetic drift, sexual selection, speciation by infestation, etc. have also been observed so these must also be incorporated into the model or it will be incomplete. Some "evolutionists" try to simplify the theory by stating that evolution is simply a change in allele frequency over time. I happen to disagree with this definition since it does not account for all of the changes that we can observe.

 Inherent in any model of evolution is the idea of common ancestry. That two species can arise from one is no longer in question. We have observed speciation events on numerous occasions. What is in question is the extent to which common ancestry can be assumed or extrapolated. Since we have not actually witnessed a dog-to-cat transition in real time (or whatever the current need-to-see example is), we must make inferences as to the extent of common ancestry from the available data. We can see from the fossil record that there was a time when the only life that existed on Earth was unicellular. Later, there was other life like sponges and other soft-bodied animals. Then there were hard-bodied animals. Then plants. Then land animals. There was a progression through time in the appearance of mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Non-flowering plants appeared before flowering plants. These are all facts that we can observe from the fossils that they have left behind. And not only that; we have found examples of both extinct and modern life that are so intermediate between forms that they can not be easily classified as one type or another.
The best explanation to explain our observations of current and past life is that all of modern life started from a common ancestral population. The origin of that ancestral population is not known. However, there is some evidence to indicate that abiogenesis could have occurred (some would even say that it must have occurred). As we learn more about life, the theory (or theories) necessarily change since science is a dynamic process. So, what may be our understanding of how things work now may be different than our understanding of how things work later.

 

 

 

 
 
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