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Author Topic:   Why creationist definitions of evolution are wrong, terribly wrong.
RAZD
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Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 136 of 205 (547191)
02-17-2010 4:48 AM
Reply to: Message 135 by Dr Jack
02-17-2010 3:39 AM


Suggest a better definition then
Hi Mr Jack

Correct, a change in hereditary traits is merely an observation. To explain the observed changes in Peppered Moth populations you have to invoke natural selection.

You say we need to invoke better survival and breeding of those that are better fit to their ecology as the mechanism that causes the change in the frequency of hereditary traits in the breeding populations from generation to generation? This does tend to bring us back to Darwin's original formulation as descent through modification, by natural selection of favoured races.

Is natural selection always present when there is change in the frequency of hereditary traits in the breeding populations from generation to generation? Or do we exclude those situations from evolution per se (like Mayr) but then need to address them to explain the fossil or genetic record when they occur? Mutation, neutral Drift, stochastic factors in founder populations, developmental factors, etc?

One could say that evolution is the change in the frequency of hereditary traits in the breeding populations from generation to generation that tends to produce better adaptation to the ecology or evolution is the change in the frequency of hereditary traits in the breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the opportunities of ecology -- would that help?

Only the most naive of creos would claim that genetics are static across generations; what they're arguing with are the grander claims of evolution.

True, their argument is with common descent, not with evolution per se. Can you say how adding natural selection to the definition of evolution assists in that part of the debate?

Don't we then have to add mutation as the source of variation? Without mutation, natural selection accomplishes very little more than oscillations in proportions of traits.

I'll be happy to expand the definition if it is an improvement to the description of what the process of evolution involves while not getting excessively wordy. A lot of this has already been discussed on Definition of Evolution, see Message 212 for my summary on that thread.

And I'm still curious as how your course discusses this when you get to it.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : added, subtitle change


we are limited in our ability to understand
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This message is a reply to:
 Message 135 by Dr Jack, posted 02-17-2010 3:39 AM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 137 by Dr Jack, posted 02-17-2010 6:19 AM RAZD has responded

  
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 391 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 137 of 205 (547196)
02-17-2010 6:19 AM
Reply to: Message 136 by RAZD
02-17-2010 4:48 AM


Re: Equivocation diminishes evolution
Hi RAZD,

The course defines Biological Evolution per se much as you do, but it goes on to define the Theory of Evolution to include such things as common descent and natural selection. The problem I have with your definition of evolution is not the definition itself but the equivocation of this small, trivial part with the whole of the Theory of Evolution. When we talk about evolution, we're not usually meaning it in the trivial sense of population change but rather talking about the grand spread of the Theory of Evolution.

Arguing that Creationist definitions are wrong because they're talking about the Theory of Evolution and you're talking about the narrow definition of evolution as mere change is sophistry, and doesn't advance the argument.

And, sure, if you want to include all of evolution you can't sum it up in a sentence or two. But that's just the way it is.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 138 of 205 (547202)
02-17-2010 6:40 AM
Reply to: Message 137 by Dr Jack
02-17-2010 6:19 AM


Re: Equivocation diminishes evolution
Thanks again Mr Jack,

The course defines Biological Evolution per se much as you do, but it goes on to define the Theory of Evolution to include such things as common descent and natural selection.

I'm still interested in how it says this. Both Berkeley and UMich go on to discuss how natural selection and common descent come in to the picture after discussing what evolution is, and I'd like to see how similar they are.

The problem I have with your definition of evolution is not the definition itself but the equivocation of this small, trivial part with the whole of the Theory of Evolution. When we talk about evolution, we're not usually meaning it in the trivial sense of population change but rather talking about the grand spread of the Theory of Evolution.

Which is why I am often careful to distinguish between process, theory and science. A lot of this has already been discussed on Definition of Evolution, see Message 212 for my summary on that thread.

Arguing that Creationist definitions are wrong because they're talking about the Theory of Evolution ...

Are they? Often they seem to flip back and forth without clarification between process, theory and science as if it is all one thing. I don't see the definition in why use a wrong definition? (Message 1) from the creationist site as being about the theory so much as the process, but that could be my interpretation.

Certainly we see that the creationist complaints are related to the macroevolutionary process/es, and that seems to be where the big gripes are.

Enjoy.

ps - note I was editing my last post while you replied.


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 139 of 205 (547235)
02-17-2010 1:51 PM
Reply to: Message 135 by Dr Jack
02-17-2010 3:39 AM


What about another definition? (* revised)
Hi Mr Jack, (Arphy, Percy, etc)

Correct, a change in hereditary traits is merely an observation. To explain the observed changes in Peppered Moth populations you have to invoke natural selection.

What about:

Evolution is the * change in the proportions of hereditary traits within breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities.

Personally I like this, as it adds a little more focus on what and why the change takes place, where the previous definition was fairly random appearing in terms of the changes, and this implies natural selection, as well as shows that it is a response mechanism to adapt to ecological opportunities (good or bad).

One can then go on to explain that:


  1. various mechanisms are involved, like natural selection, mutation, neutral drift, developmental factors etc.
  2. this can (but doesn't have to) result in speciation and thus the formation of nested hierarchies of descent from common ancestor populations, as speciation depends on some additional mechanisms that affect evolution in different populations (separation, population dynamics, behavior, etc).
  3. "microevolution" is focused on the evolution that occurs within a species population or sub-population.
  4. "macroevolution" is focused on the divergence of daughter species as they evolve independently from their common ancestor population, and on the formation of nested hierarchies as the daughter populations become parent populations to new daughter species.
  5. all evolution occurs within species, and thus the "large changes," "transformations" and "hopeful monsters" that the creationists usually label "macroevolution" are in actuality the accumulated changes by "microevolution" over many, many generations.
  6. "transitional fossils" are intermediate stages of fully developed species that show forms intermediate between their ancestral populations and their descendant populations.
  7. the Theory of Evolution (ToE) is that evolution and speciation are sufficient to explain the diversity of life as we know it, from the world around us to the fossil record to the genetic record.
  8. the Science of Evolution studies the diversity of life, the progress of evolution in the world today, the various mechanisms that cause evolution and speciation, and whether the fossil record and the genetic record are explained by the mechanisms of evolution and speciation.

The creationist daffynition quoted in why use a wrong definition? (Message 1) does not lead to this level of explanation, whether they mean the process, the theory, or the science, and thus if fails to describe evolution properly in any way.

Enjoy.

* -- edited to delete "adaptive" as unnecessary to definition, if it is in response to ecological opportunities then it is adaptive. Previous version was (with deleted word in bold):

Evolution is the adaptive change in the proportions of hereditary traits within breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities.

This tends to exclude neutral drift, whereas neutral mutations are still allowed with response to ecological opportunities.

Edited by RAZD, : clrty

Edited by RAZD, : ,

Edited by RAZD, : revised definition


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This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.0


Message 140 of 205 (547238)
02-17-2010 2:21 PM
Reply to: Message 137 by Dr Jack
02-17-2010 6:19 AM


Re: Equivocation diminishes evolution
But evolution isn't a small part of evolution, it's all of evolution. What else has ever happened that one could describe as evolution?

It's not everything we know about evolution, but it is all the evolution there is. And an example of evolution would still be evolution if it was Lamarckian or front-loaded or Darwinian, and it would continue to be evolution even if it turned out that common descent was the veriest piffle.


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Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 2324
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 7.5


Message 141 of 205 (547248)
02-17-2010 4:38 PM
Reply to: Message 139 by RAZD
02-17-2010 1:51 PM


Re: What about another definition?
H i RAZD,

RAZD writes:

d. "macroevolution" is focused on the divergence of daughter species as they evolve independently from their common ancestor population, and on the formation of nested hierarchies as the daughter populations become parent populations to new daughter species.

I think creationists see "macroevolution" as some separate (above the species level) process rather than microevolution continuing on in daughter populations.

It is interesting that whenever I discuss evolution with my entomologist colleagues, the term "macroevolution" is never used with regards to speciation. It only comes up when we talk about creationist's lack in understanding of evolutionary biology.

Another wrong definition of evolution that I see creationists use over and over is:

Arphy in message 91 writes:

that over many generations bacteria turned into humans

Bacteria have never turned into humans! There are literally millions of transitional species between the earliest single celled organisms and all modern species. "Over many generations" does not even begin to to describe the reality.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

You can't build a Time Machine without Weird Optics -- S. Valley


This message is a reply to:
 Message 139 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2010 1:51 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 142 of 205 (547281)
02-17-2010 8:32 PM
Reply to: Message 141 by Tanypteryx
02-17-2010 4:38 PM


Re: What about another definition?
Hi Tanypteryx,

I keep forgetting to show your dragonfly pictures to Dad. Of late, all visits are tied up talking about their new house construction and the decisions that need to be made. Fun times: he doesn't have a clue about modern materials ...

I think creationists see "macroevolution" as some separate (above the species level) process rather than microevolution continuing on in daughter populations.

Yeah, that's why I included (e) to head that off (if possible).

Another wrong definition of evolution that I see creationists use over and over is:
Arphy in Message 91 writes: that over many generations bacteria turned into humans

Bacteria have never turned into humans! There are literally millions of transitional species between the earliest single celled organisms and all modern species. "Over many generations" does not even begin to to describe the reality.

Yeah, "the old goo to you, via the zoo" (gotta love the alliteration, even if it is wrong), this is the other example in the OP. Creationists always seem to assume that humans are a necessary result, because that is what creationism tells them.

"Over many generations" does not even begin to to describe the reality.

More like billions and billions of generations.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 391 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 143 of 205 (547310)
02-18-2010 3:50 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by Dr Adequate
02-17-2010 2:21 PM


Re: Equivocation diminishes evolution
But evolution isn't a small part of evolution, it's all of evolution. What else has ever happened that one could describe as evolution?

You'll note I said it was a small part of the Theory of Evolution. And it's the theory of evolution Creationists are talking about.

It's not everything we know about evolution, but it is all the evolution there is. And an example of evolution would still be evolution if it was Lamarckian or front-loaded or Darwinian, and it would continue to be evolution even if it turned out that common descent was the veriest piffle.

Exactly why it's equivocation. You'll note the claims RAZD makes for evolution's explanatory power (in the post I replied to ). The simple change definition of biological evolution has no explanatory power.

To respond to a faulty Creationist definition such as "Evolution, as it is strictly interpreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones" which is clearly talking about the ToE with a definition that applies only to a tiny, tiny part of the ToE - the part of least interest - progresses nothing. It's simply a debating tactic; a cheap one that obfuscates the very thing we're trying to defend.


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Kaichos Man
Member (Idle past 2775 days)
Posts: 250
From: Tasmania, Australia
Joined: 10-03-2009


Message 144 of 205 (547316)
02-18-2010 6:13 AM
Reply to: Message 127 by DrJones*
02-15-2010 10:28 PM


Re: epic fail of creolution daffynition
Fuck the uneducated masses, fuck them up their uneducated asses.

Forgive my ignorance, but is it normal practice in Canada to educate one's posteria?


"Often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may have not devoted myself to a fantasy." Charles Darwin

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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 145 of 205 (547489)
02-19-2010 6:25 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by Dr Jack
02-18-2010 3:50 AM


revised
Hi again Mr Jack,

Exactly why it's equivocation. You'll note the claims RAZD makes for evolution's explanatory power (in the post I replied to ). The simple change definition of biological evolution has no explanatory power.

What about the revised definition:

Message 139 (revised): What about:

Evolution is the change in the proportions of hereditary traits within breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities.

Does that answer your criticism?

To respond to a faulty Creationist definition such as "Evolution, as it is strictly interpreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones" which is clearly talking about the ToE ...

I don't think it is that clear that they are talking about the ToE at all. This is the context of the original creationist definition:

quote:
The concept of abiogenesis is not evolution, per se. Evolution, as it is strictly intepreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones. Abiogenesis deals with what comes before - the origination of those very simple lifeforms from non-living chemical antecedants. However, because it is part and parcel with the whole naturalistic scheme of evolutionary science, abiogenesis can rightly be said to fall under the broader rubric of "evolution" as the term is commonly understood in lay discourse, and certainly the concept must be dealt with in any discussion concerning origins.

Looks to me like he is talking about the science of evolution, starting with an attempt at a general definition of evolution. I can insert the above definition of evolution into this paragraph and it makes sense:

The concept of abiogenesis is not evolution, per se. Evolution, as it is strictly intepreted in technical terms, is the change in the proportions of hereditary traits within breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities. Abiogenesis deals with what comes before - the origination of those very simple lifeforms from non-living chemical antecedants.

At least he got the part about abiogenesis not being evolution correct at the start (even though he goes on to ignore this).

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : /


we are limited in our ability to understand
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Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
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This message is a reply to:
 Message 143 by Dr Jack, posted 02-18-2010 3:50 AM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.0


Message 146 of 205 (547499)
02-19-2010 8:18 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by Dr Jack
02-18-2010 3:50 AM


Re: Equivocation diminishes evolution
Exactly why it's equivocation. You'll note the claims RAZD makes for evolution's explanatory power (in the post I replied to ). The simple change definition of biological evolution has no explanatory power.

True enough --- definitions never do. For that, you need facts.

But just because RAZD spoke inaccurately is no reason why everyone else should abandon precision of thought and language. And it's certainly no reason why we should allow a creationist blunder parity with a scientific definition.

To respond to a faulty Creationist definition such as "Evolution, as it is strictly interpreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones" which is clearly talking about the ToE with a definition that applies only to a tiny, tiny part of the ToE - the part of least interest - progresses nothing. It's simply a debating tactic; a cheap one that obfuscates the very thing we're trying to defend.

The creationist error is obfuscation. Its is true that after giving a correct definition of evolution, it would have further addressed their blunder to give a correct definition of the theory of evolution and of common descent, but then I presume that the people who wrote that nonsense aren't reading this thread.


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 391 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 147 of 205 (547566)
02-20-2010 6:33 AM
Reply to: Message 145 by RAZD
02-19-2010 6:25 PM


Re: revised
Hi RAZD,

Does that answer your criticism?

Yeah, it's a better definition.

Looks to me like he is talking about the science of evolution, starting with an attempt at a general definition of evolution. I can insert the above definition of evolution into this paragraph and it makes sense:

I think your distinction between the science of evolution and the ToE is one I'm not making.

As I see it if he'd omitted the bit about strict technical terms, what he gave wasn't a bad description of evolution. Evolution does deal with the development of complex forms from simple forms and that is a major part of why it's such an important part of our scientific knowledge. Now, of course, simple-to-complex is not directed, nor is it monotonic or unbounded but it does, and has, happened, and is critically important to scientific explainations of life on Earth.

And I don't really see the point in attacking an article which is such pure, unrelenting bollocks on this point.


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 148 of 205 (547632)
02-20-2010 9:23 PM
Reply to: Message 147 by Dr Jack
02-20-2010 6:33 AM


Re: revised
Hi Mr jack,

Does that answer your criticism?

Yeah, it's a better definition.

Agreed.

Evolution is the change in the proportions of hereditary traits within breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities.

Now I'll move forward again, and state that the process of speciation is explained by different evolution of sub-populations in different ecologies when a lack of genetic feed-back to the whole species population results in reproductive isolation of sub-populations.

Then that the Theory of Evolution can be briefly stated as the hypothesis that the diversity of life can be explained by the processes of evolution and speciation. This should apply equally to either definition of evolution, creationist or evolutionist, if the definition is adequate.

Now we can revisit the question of explaining various observations and see if these are indeed adequate:

Message 22:

Creolution: - is the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones by various suggested mechanisms.

Evolution:* - is the change in frequency of hereditary traits in breeding population from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities.

... and see how "creolution" compares with evolution* in their ability to explain the diversity of life around us and what biologists study:

Comparison by ability to explain:CreolutionEvolution*
Peppered mothsnoyes
Galapagos finch beaksnoyes
Wing/wingless/wing/wingless walkingsticksnoyes
Pelycodus speciationnoyes
Asian greenish warbler ring speciesnoyes
Therapsids with two jaw jointsnoyes
Whalesnoyes
Parasitesnoyes
Why apes are still livingnoyes
Why cyanobacteria are still livingnoyes
Human eye versus octopus versus combinationnoyesThe human appendix & vestigial organsnoyes
Convergent evolutionnoyes
Hominid bipedality before brainnoyes
Chronological stratigraphic layers of foraminiferanoyesCommon descentnoyes
Nested hierarchies of descentnoyes
Neutral driftnoyes
Coelacanthsnoyes
.........
Direction to evolutionyesno
Purpose for lifeyesno
Abiogenesisyesno

I could go on, and I expect many people here can provide many additional examples where creolution fails to explain what evolution explains, but I think that should be sufficient to demonstrate the absolute failure of creolution as a viable alternate formulation of evolution.

* with new definition revision

Do you not agree that these observations are explained by evolution as now defined?

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
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• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.0


Message 149 of 205 (547668)
02-21-2010 10:56 AM
Reply to: Message 148 by RAZD
02-20-2010 9:23 PM


Re: revised
Do you not agree that these observations are explained by evolution as now defined?

Definitely not.

For one thing, it now actually excludes neutral drift, which is on your list.

For another thing, it still doesn't explain the "nested hierarchies". We need the initial condition of common ancestry to do that.

Finally, you make it sound a lot more Lamarckian than Darwinian.

The definition of evolution shouldn't explain things. The Theory of Evolution should. That's what theories do.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 150 of 205 (547678)
02-21-2010 4:59 PM
Reply to: Message 149 by Dr Adequate
02-21-2010 10:56 AM


reading or misreading?
Hi Dr Adequate,

For one thing, it now actually excludes neutral drift, which is on your list.

How so?

If a neutral mutation occurs and it is not selected against (by definition), then it has taken advantage of the neutral selection to get passed on. The ecological opportunity of non-selection allows the neutral mutation/s to continue. (Note this is one of the reasons I took "adaptive" out).

For another thing, it still doesn't explain the "nested hierarchies". We need the initial condition of common ancestry to do that.

And common ancestry is explained by the isolated evolution of daughter populations taking advantage of different ecologies to evolve in different paths. When the ecological opportunities to maintain gene flow are lost, then speciation (and hence common ancestry) can occur.

Finally, you make it sound a lot more Lamarckian than Darwinian.

???

This is another of the reasons I took "adaptive" out as it was too directional, but how does the rest become selection of aquired traits?

Evolution is a response mechanism, and it responds to the opportunities (good or bad) for life that are presented by the ecology the organism population inhabits and the variation/s available by living or dying (one possible response, of course, is extinction).

The definition of evolution shouldn't explain things. The Theory of Evolution should. That's what theories do.

I suggest you go back and read Message 148

quote:
Agreed.

Evolution is the change in the proportions of hereditary traits within breeding populations from generation to generation in response to the ecological opportunities.

Now I'll move forward again, and state that the process of speciation is explained by different evolution of sub-populations in different ecologies when a lack of genetic feed-back to the whole species population results in reproductive isolation of sub-populations.

Then that the Theory of Evolution can be briefly stated as the hypothesis that the diversity of life can be explained by the processes of evolution and speciation. This should apply equally to either definition of evolution, creationist or evolutionist, if the definition is adequate.

Now we can revisit the question of explaining various observations and see if these are indeed adequate:


bold added for emphasis.

The definition of evolution shouldn't explain things.

A definition is an explanation of what the word means.

That theories explain things does not mean that they are the only explanations, that other things cannot be explained without theories, such as what the facts are and why they are facts. The definition of evolution explains what the process of evolution is, and this explains why the process is a fact and not a theory.

Theories explain why things are, not what they are.

The Theory of Evolution should. That's what theories do.

And, curiously, that is what the Theory of Evolution does do, when the proper definition of evolution is used, and what it does NOT do when an improper definition of evolution is used.

So you see that the proper definition, the proper explanation of what evolution involves, is critically important to the explanatory power of the theory.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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