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Author Topic:   Evolution by Definition
Member (Idle past 126 days)
Posts: 6351
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003

Message 4 of 74 (450808)
01-24-2008 1:24 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-23-2008 3:40 PM

The problem is that evolution is such a large concept that it can't be defined in a pithy, one-sentence toss-off without doing it a grave disservice. The definition you provide focuses on natural selection, but that ignores all other selective factors such as sexual selection and all non-selective factors such as neutral drift.
The pithy definition I've heard is that evolution is the shifting of allele frequencies in a population over time. This definition, however, doesn't say anything about where new alleles come from, if at all, how they arrive if they do, and what happens to current ones that exist. Now in some sense, evolution doesn't care. Just as we don't want to restrict ourselves to natural selection, we don't want to necessarily restrict ourselves to mutation...especially since that depends upon a definition of "mutation." Is infection "mutation"? There's a good reason to say yes, but I can understand why one might want to make a distinction between genetic material coming in from external organisms and genetic material being altered inside the individual organism.
Note, this is not unique to evolution. Gravitational theory is not nearly sufficiently summed up by F = Gm1m2/r2. That doesn't explain where gravity comes from (which we still don't know), if it can be manipulated, etc. There's a reason that people write volumes upon volumes on the subjects of gravity and of evolution. They can't be reduced without losing something in the process.


Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

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