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Author Topic:   The Definition for the Theory of Evolution
AdminNosy
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Message 106 of 216 (410377)
07-14-2007 3:50 PM
Reply to: Message 105 by Cold Foreign Object
07-14-2007 3:30 PM


Suspended!
Given your history you don't get a warning.

3 days and you can try again.


This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
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Message 107 of 216 (410379)
07-14-2007 3:52 PM
Reply to: Message 104 by Cold Foreign Object
07-14-2007 3:15 PM


Re: Your opinion, Your Favorite
Johnson's definition says ToE is an interpretation of scientific data attempting to explain how nature may have created itself without any assitance from a Divine Creator.

There is no difference between Johnson and your blue box definition. What are we arguing about?

See Message 55 where I highlight the differences between my definition and Johnson's. A quick pointer: ToE does not, indeed cannot come even close to, explaining how nature may have created itself.


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RAZD
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Message 108 of 216 (410390)
07-14-2007 6:05 PM
Reply to: Message 103 by Modulous
07-14-2007 12:41 PM


A different approach?
As Laplace may have famously said 'Sire, I have not needed that hypothesis.'

The principle of parsimony, or Occam's razor.

There are many valid definitions on what the theory actually is.

True, but then what are the common elements, and what can be discarded as unnecessary for defining how evolution operates -- and why?

  • hereditary mutations,
  • change in frequency of alleles in populations,
  • natural selection,
  • population dynamics,
  • genetic drift (or neutral drift),
  • environmental changes,
  • epigenetics (the study of how genes produce their effect on the phenotype of the organism),
  • evo-devo (a branch of biology investigating the links between evolution and the development of different organisms),
  • punctuated equilibrium,
  • horizontal gene transfer by viruses and bacteria,
  • many generations,
  • billions of years,
  • common ancestry (general),
  • from a single common ancestor,
  • increased complexity,
  • from an inorganic form,
  • produces new “Kinds” (forms),
  • produces greater information content,
  • absence of god,
  • etc.

(feel free to add any ... both evolutionist and creationist)

I think we can all agree for instance that "from an inorganic form" is unnecessary as that is covered by abiogenesis and it only deals with one point in time, while evolution would apply to the whole continuous spectrum of life.

I think we can also say that items like "increased complexity" and "greater information" need to have a method to measure them in order for the relative differences to be compared. I also do not see why increases are necessary either -- in some cases a simpler solution is better.

Genetic definitions are problematic for applying to fossil evidence, so there it is easier to talk about hereditary traits -- the physical similarities and the subtle changes to the parts of the fossils over time.

It seems to me that speciation is a critical element of the theory -- a newly made barrier that divides a population into two or more daughter populations -- and while the two (or more) daughter populations do have different frequencies of alleles from each other and from their parent population, changing frequencies doesn't imply that speciation is necessary. Without speciation there would only be one species on earth - cyanobacteria.

Enjoy.


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sidelined 
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Message 109 of 216 (410392)
07-14-2007 7:07 PM
Reply to: Message 108 by RAZD
07-14-2007 6:05 PM


Re: A different approach?
Razd

(feel free to add any ... both evolutionist and creationist)

I would just make it a point to clarify that in the phrase you offered,

increased complexity,

complexity is not the opposite of simplicity but ,rather, the
opposite of independent. We can reword it then as increased interdependence and gain the understanding that increased complexity naturally follows when systems of atoms {simplistic WRT organic life} whose bonds {attributable to the electromagnetic force alone} become molecules which in turn follow these same bonding rules to become organic {carbon bearing} and up the chain of interdependence to become amino acids,proteins etc...

Just my 2 cents worth to see if the idea is actually understood by others here.


"We patronize animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth." - Henry Beston
This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
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Message 110 of 216 (410393)
07-14-2007 7:21 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Modulous
07-07-2007 6:14 PM


Synthetic theory examples
I suppose you could define the synthetic theory like this site does:
quote:
Synthesis of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian selection into a modern theory of evolutionary change.

But that doesn't really define anything, it's saying how the theory is derived but not what it is. It also lists:

quote:
Evolution: Any change in gene frequency from one generation to the next.

4 Forces of Evolution:
Mutation, Gene Flow, Genetic Drift, Natural Selection.


And you would need to put all these together. Your other link has similar problems:

Or this one:
quote:
[The Synthetic Theory is] essentially a combination of Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection, Gregor Mendel's basic understanding of genetic inheritance, along with evolutionary theories developed since the early 20th century by population geneticists and more recently by molecular biologists

And when I look at the next page from that one I get:

quote:
The biological sciences now generally define evolution as being the sum total of the genetically inherited changes in the individuals who are the members of a population's gene pool. It is clear that the effects of evolution are felt by individuals, but it is the population as a whole that actually evolves. Evolution is simply a change in frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population. For instance, let us assume that there is a trait that is determined by the inheritance of a gene with two alleles--B and b. If the parent generation has 92% B and 8% b and their offspring collectively have 90% B and 10% b, evolution has occurred between the generations. The entire population's gene pool has evolved in the direction of a higher frequency of the b allele--it was not just those individuals who inherited the b allele who evolved.

This is the common frequency of alleles definition, heavy on genetics, light on natural selection, and mute on speciation (or even the question of what a species is).

Enjoy.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Modulous, posted 07-07-2007 6:14 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 113 by Modulous, posted 07-15-2007 5:43 AM RAZD has responded
 Message 114 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-15-2007 5:59 AM RAZD has responded
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RAZD
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From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 111 of 216 (410395)
07-14-2007 7:31 PM
Reply to: Message 109 by sidelined
07-14-2007 7:07 PM


Re: A different approach?
We can reword it then as increased interdependence and gain the understanding that increased complexity naturally follows when systems of atoms {simplistic WRT organic life} whose bonds {attributable to the electromagnetic force alone} become molecules which in turn follow these same bonding rules to become organic {carbon bearing} and up the chain of interdependence to become amino acids,proteins etc...

I would still need a way to measure it to compare individuals and species, and I would also argue that in some cases a return to a less interdependent molecule\whatever cannot be ruled out, especially if it takes less resources and energy to facilitate survival. If evolution can go either way, then this is not a necessary element.

Another thing I found on a following page from one of Modulous' links was:

http://anthro.palomar.edu/synthetic/synth_2.htm

quote:
Hardy, Weinberg, and the population geneticists who followed them came to understand that evolution will not occur in a population if seven conditions are met:
1. mutation is not occurring
2. natural selection is not occurring
3. the population is infinitely large
4. all members of the population breed
5. all mating is totally random
6. everyone produces the same number of offspring
7. there is no migration in or out of the population

Maybe this can help us define what is necessary in the definition.

Enjoy.


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This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
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Message 112 of 216 (410435)
07-15-2007 5:13 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by Cold Foreign Object
07-14-2007 3:30 PM


Answer The Questions Already
You are unread and completely ignorant.

This lie does not answer my question. I asked you to quote just one "scholar" who defines the theory of evolution as "natural selection".

Johnson is a recognized scholar.

This lie does not answer my question, which is why does he not give the definition of evolution which you attribute to "scholars".

A change in gene frequencies is the geneticist definition of evolution. It is not the only valid definition of evolution.

This unsupported statement does not answer my question, which is whether you can give me an example of evolution without a change in allele frequencies.

Evolution is inferred; it cannot be observed in real time because it is too slow. What happens in the molecular universe is not falsifiable as one must take the word of the scientist on it, whether an Evolutionist or Creationist.

Evolution is not observable. This makes it much like Creationism: we do not get to see exactly when God creates by special creation. Like evolution, special creation is inferred after the fact.

But this isn't true, is it? You're just reciting the standard creationist lie about the impossibility of knowing about the past.

On the other hand, it does incidentally provide a sort of answer to my question. I wrote "Evolution is observed as well as inferred, surely you know that?" And apparently you don't.

Now that I know you are unread and ignorant I will not be reading anymore of your messages.

Ah yes, creationism. Declare victory, then run away as fast as your fwightened ickle legs will carry you.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Modulous
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Message 113 of 216 (410438)
07-15-2007 5:43 AM
Reply to: Message 110 by RAZD
07-14-2007 7:21 PM


Re: Synthetic theory examples
But that doesn't really define anything, it's saying how the theory is derived but not what it is.

It all comes down to expectations. Different horses for different courses. Any theory can be 'defined' in a number of different fashions. The theory of evolution can be defined as an amalgam of many theories of biological change - or it can be defined by listing the main theories or even by briefly explaining the ins and outs of each of the hypotheses. We would run into the same issue if we tried to define many scientific theories, I'd wager. You'll need to define the level of granularity you want. The easiest way of course would be through a minimum and maximum wordcount but that would be imprecise.

You've made it clear that you want it succinct, and that you want the primary mechanisms listed and to that end, there are several wordings having been put forward that do the job marvellously.

This is the common frequency of alleles definition, heavy on genetics, light on natural selection, and mute on speciation (or even the question of what a species is).

The listed description is not a definition of 'The theory of evolution' it is a definition of 'evolution'. The two are different like gravity and relativity are different. You mentioned earlier you think speciation is important - but species is an entirely arbitrary term, so I don't think speciation is important. After all - different biologists investigate the world using different definitions of 'species'.

Still - the site does go into it here.

quote:
Over time, the populations genetically diverge enough so that they can no longer reproduce with each other. At this point, they have become separate species and usually continue to diverge in subsequent generations. In intermediate stages, the two newly or about to be separated species may be able to interbreed and produce children, but most of them are likely to be sterile.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by RAZD, posted 07-14-2007 7:21 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 13104
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Message 114 of 216 (410441)
07-15-2007 5:59 AM
Reply to: Message 110 by RAZD
07-14-2007 7:21 PM


Re: Synthetic theory examples
This is the common frequency of alleles definition, heavy on genetics, light on natural selection, and mute on speciation (or even the question of what a species is).

Speciation is one of the things that the theory of evolution explains, it's not part of the explanation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by RAZD, posted 07-14-2007 7:21 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 111 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 115 of 216 (410448)
07-15-2007 6:48 AM
Reply to: Message 110 by RAZD
07-14-2007 7:21 PM


Re: Synthetic theory examples
RAZD writes:

This is the common frequency of alleles definition, heavy on genetics, light on natural selection, and mute on speciation (or even the question of what a species is).

RAZD, in your O.P., you're asking about the definition of the Theory of Evolution. The comment you've just made there is about a definition of biological evolution. That definition is not (and isn't meant to be) a definition of the Theory.

I like the quote you're referring to as a one sentence definition of biological evolution. It was this:

quote:
...the sum total of the genetically inherited changes in the individuals who are the members of a population's gene pool.

So, I'll make an attempt to include it in a one sentence definition of the Modern Theory!

The Modern Theory of Evolution is the explanation of the sum total of genetically inherited changes in the individuals who are members of a population's gene pool by the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection, gene flow and genetic drift.

It's clumsy, because it includes the definition of biological evolution inside it, so the brief version could be this:

The Modern ToE is the explanation of biological evolution by the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection, gene flow and genetic drift.

Any good? (Probably not, but it's nice and brief!).


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RAZD
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Message 116 of 216 (410471)
07-15-2007 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 114 by Dr Adequate
07-15-2007 5:59 AM


Re: Synthetic theory examples
This is the common frequency of alleles definition, heavy on genetics, light on natural selection, and mute on speciation (or even the question of what a species is).
Speciation is one of the things that the theory of evolution explains, it's not part of the explanation.

How does 'change in frequency of alleles in populations' explain speciation without introducing additional elements?

Enjoy.


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This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
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Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 117 of 216 (410483)
07-15-2007 11:23 AM
Reply to: Message 113 by Modulous
07-15-2007 5:43 AM


Re: Synthetic theory examples
The listed description is not a definition of 'The theory of evolution' it is a definition of 'evolution'. The two are different like gravity and relativity are different. You mentioned earlier you think speciation is important - but species is an entirely arbitrary term, so I don't think speciation is important. After all - different biologists investigate the world using different definitions of 'species'.

That is one of the problems with evolution -- the word is used to mean different things. What evolution is does need to be part of the theory for how evolution occurs, and how it occurs needs more than just what it is.

It's not so much that speciation needs to be included, but that the theory can explain speciation - especially where it involves separation of parent populations into different daughter populations.

Still - the site does go into it here.

Yes, and it also says

quote:
When the populations are in dissimilar environments, environmental stresses are often not the same. As a result, nature selects for different traits existing within the gene pools of the populations.

Thus the dissimilar environments become necessary for this kind (adaptive radiation) of speciation (also known as non-arbitrary speciation).

And

quote:
Descendant generations experience continuous spontaneous mutations and new directions of natural selection as the environment changes.

So different environments are also required for this kind (successive) speciation (also known as arbitrary speciation as the divisions are relatively arbitrary).

We also see environment\ecology as the driving difference between stasis and non-stasis evolution in punk-eek:

quote:
The punctuated, or rapid change periods, were presumably the result of major environmental changes in such things as predation pressure, food supply and climate. During these times, natural selection can favor varieties that were previously at a comparative disadvantage.

This of course is where phenotype (the appearance of an organism resulting from the interaction of the genotype and the environment) comes into the picture.

Any theory can be 'defined' in a number of different fashions. The theory of evolution can be defined as an amalgam of many theories of biological change - or it can be defined by listing the main theories or even by briefly explaining the ins and outs of each of the hypotheses.

Yes, this would be similar to the "standard model" in physics, an amalgam of theories that are picked up as they prove useful and dropped as they are invalidated. I have trouble with calling this a theory, as such an amalgam cannot be falsified - it just morphs as the member theories move in and out - without, of course, every single supporting theory being invalidated.

So maybe we should say there is a "standard model" of evolution, rather than an overall theory.

Enjoy.


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This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
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Message 118 of 216 (412579)
07-25-2007 1:07 PM


More thoughts ...
First, to be a "general" theory of evolution it has to be applicable to studies that cover the range of evidence in the science of biological evolution, from the small changes within breeding populations (beak changes in Galapagos Finches) to the large changes over time seen in the fossil record (the development of new features). This latter portion makes a genetic definition difficult, as the features fossilized are due to (genetic and other) epigenetic factors. Hereditary traits can be observed and tracked without knowing the epigenetic basis.

Second, evolution is not a "productive" process, rather it is a "feedback response" process, an endless "do while" loop under changing ecological conditions (where the only escape from the loop is individual death and species extinction).

A simplistic "program" for the feedback process would be something like:

 (1) Take Population {A} with m existing inheritable 
variations and n individual organisms where
n = SUM(m x # organisms with m)
(2) Let p = n
(3) Do while organism = 1 to n
(a) Does organism breed?
(b) If NO let p = p-1, go to Next variation
(c) Go to Next variation
(4) Let Population {A'} = the breeding remainder of
Population {A} with total p remaining organisms,
where
m' = remaining variations in Population {A}
and p = SUM((m' x # OLD organisms with m')
(5) Let {A''} = new offspring of Population {A'},
where
p' = SUM(m' x # NEW organisms with m') for
the offspring that inherit their traits
from the parent population, and
q = SUM(m* x # NEW organisms with m*) for
the offspring with new variations (due
to mutations)
(7) Form Population {B} from remaining organisms
of Population {A} plus offspring
{B} = {A'} + {A''}
(8) Set {A} = {B}
(9) Set n = p + p' + q
(10) Go to (2)

Note "n" and "p" would represent the total organisms not the number of allele variations. The number of alleles would be represented by m, m' and m*. You could get more detailed about tracking allele frequencies and the number of times each organism breeds (and whether the offspring inherited which alleles), but this should give the basic idea of the feedback mechanism.

The response part of the mechanism is whether the organisms survive to breed, and this depends on the relative changes in ecological factors (predator prey relations, nutrition & disease factors, environmental change factors, etcetera).

Thoughts?


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MartinV 
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Message 119 of 216 (36129)
04-02-2003 6:24 PM
Reply to: Message 113 by Modulous
07-15-2007 5:43 AM


Re: Synthetic theory examples
quote:

The theory of evolution can be defined as an amalgam of many theories of biological change - or it can be defined by listing the main theories or even by briefly explaining the ins and outs of each of the hypotheses.

All of you are here speaking about ToE - Theory of evolution. Do you speaking about it generally, or what ToE do you have on your mind? There are many ToE:

1) Darwinism
2) Lamarckism
3) Nomogenesis - evolution governed by law
3) Orthogenesis
4) Idealistic morhphology
5) John Davison's Prescribed evolutionary hypothesis
6) Cosmic Ancestry

etc...

All of them are theories of evolution.


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Message 120 of 216 (413176)
07-29-2007 3:24 PM


Bringing this thread back to the present...
Enjoy!


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

  
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