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Author Topic:   Evolution and the BIG LIE
RAZD
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Message 1 of 108 (440999)
12-15-2007 6:57 PM


There are several threads (definition of evolution, definition of the theory of evolution, etc) and posts that mention evolution on this forum, but I want to discuss what evolution is - as a process, as a theory and as a scientific field of study - in one combined thread, and what any competing ideas regarding evolution involve and how we can test concepts of evolution against reality to determine which concepts explain the evidence and which ones do it best.

We'll start with the process, where evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation

Where:
trait is an aspect that can be quantified, such as an allele or variation of a gene, the length of a bone, the size of a skull, the color of an eye, the thickness of hair,
change is a measurable quantifiable difference in a trait, such as the number, length or color,
hereditary means that it is passed from parent to child,
population means a group of individual organisms of the same species, and
generation is the average time it takes for a newborn to become able to reproduce.

You don't have to take my word for this, you can look these up and see how they are used, just be sure to stick to usage within the science of biology, seeing as that is what we are talking about.

Evolution is a process that is observed in everyday life: there is no species that does not change hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation. This process is an observed fact, and this is the objective evidential basis for the "Theory of Evolution" (ToE), and then both become the foundation of the science of Evolutionary Biology.

Astute creationists will notice that this is "just variation and adaptation within kinds" or "microevolution" which has become a well accepted fact even in these circles (as has a heliocentric solar system). That's the good news: creationists should not be concerned about evolution as defined here. The next question then is "what is the controversy all about," and how does this relate to "the rest of the story."

Darwin, Descent with Modification and Time

On 24 November 1859 Darwin published On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, where he first described “descent with modification” and established his theory of natural selection. He does not use the word "evolution" but he does say:

quote:
He who can read Sir Charles Lyell's grand work on the Principles of Geology, which the future historian will recognise as having produced a revolution in natural science, yet does not admit how incomprehensibly vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume.

When the views entertained in this volume on the origin of species, or when analogous views are generally admitted, we can dimly foresee that there will be a considerable revolution in natural history.



At that time geologists and other scientists had already determined that the earth was much older than was previously thought. He refers to Lyell's "the Principles of Geology" as one reference to geological age. Meanwhile, Lord Kelvin working from principles of thermodynamics shortly before Darwin's book had come to the conclusion that:
quote:
"This earth, certainly a moderate number of millions of years ago, was a red-hot globe ... ."[29]

and after the book was published he
quote:
... settled on an estimate that the Earth was 20-40 million years old. Shortly before his death however, Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity and Marie Curie's studies with uranium ores provided the insight into the 'energy source beyond' that would power the sun for the long time-span required by the theory of evolution.

This means that at that time the minimum age of the earth from sources outside biology was 20 million years, and probably a lot older due to the addition of radioactivity into the equations.

Darwin came to his conclusions based on comparison to animal breeding and his discoveries of existing life in various parts of the world, most notably the Galapagos Islands. He based his concept on what he knew about existing life, not on the fossil record. Not on rocks, organic soup or single cell organisms, and not on the evolution of man (his book on The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex was published in 1871). He noticed that life changed (modification), that those changes were hereditary (descent), that natural selection had to be involved because there were more offspring produced than were necessary, and that this predicted that there was a mechanism for developing new traits and transferring hereditary information from one generation to the next even though he did not know what it was.

Embryology, Evolution and Genetics

In 1900 the work of Mendel (originally published in 1866) was rediscovered by scientists working on plant physiology and then it was spread to embryology by Bateson, and this led to the further developments in biology by Haeckel, de Beers and others, leading to the use of the term evolution in studying how life develops and (ultimately) to genetics and the study of how genetic hereditary traits are passed from parent to offspring. While genetics was able to show that traits were inherited through chromosomes and genes, it took until the 1950's to link this to DNA. During that time there were a lot of theories that were proposed tested and discarded on how hereditary traits where physically transferred from parent to child before the truth was finally understood.

From 1936 to 1947 the modern synthesis was developed to combine the study of genetics with Darwinism based on morphology and fossils, and they concluded that “evolution consists primarily of changes in the frequencies of alleles between one generation and another as a result of genetic drift, gene flow, and natural selection” ...

Definitions used in Science

Evolutionary Biology is taught by many universities as part of their various degree programs for biologists, culminating in Ph.D.s, so if we want to look for modern definitions of evolution as used in science then we can look to how universities that teach these programs define it.

the University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley definition is “evolution, simply put, is descent with modification”

The University of Michigan defines evolution as “changes in the genetic composition of a population with the passage of each generation” and the “gradual change of living things from one form into another over the course of time, the origin of species and lineages by descent of living forms from ancestral forms, and the generation of diversity” ...

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Population Genetics) definition is “evolution is a change in the frequency of alleles within the gene pool of a population from one generation to the next”

One of the areas where evolution has seen new developments is the field of evolutionary developmental biology, "a field of biology that compares the developmental processes of different animals and plants in an attempt to determine the ancestral relationship between organisms and how developmental processes evolved."

quote:
Some evo-devo researchers see themselves as extending and enhancing the modern synthesis by incorporating into it findings of molecular genetics and developmental biology. Others, drawing on findings of discordances between genotype and phenotype and epigenetic mechanisms of development, are mounting an explicit challenge to neo-Darwinism.

This can also include the effects of environment on the development of individual genotypes into adult forms, the phenotype that is the subject of natural selection.

Conclusions

(1) The scientific definitions from universities are consistent with the definition that evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation,

(2) That this is consistent with "variation and adaptation within kinds" or "microevolution" as used by creationists, and thus that creationists should not be concerned about evolution as defined here.

(3) This thread is long enough already.

But wait --- what's the BIG LIE?

The big lie is what creationists say about evolution, that evolution is a problem for creationist beliefs, that there is something else to evolution than the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation or that this is NOT evolution (but will they define what is?).

If nobody objects to this definition of evolution, or you just agree to it for the sake of the argument, then we can move on to what the definition of "the Theory of Evolution" (ToE) contains, and see what develops, something that is a problem for creationism.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : added

Edited by RAZD, : pop in def list


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RAZD
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Message 6 of 108 (441116)
12-16-2007 1:07 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by nator
12-16-2007 9:07 AM


we have a thread for defining kinds: Problems of a different "Kind"

This thread is about the different types of evolution.


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RAZD
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Message 7 of 108 (441120)
12-16-2007 1:14 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Larni
12-16-2007 8:55 AM


perhaps we can come back to this when we get to macroevolution.
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RAZD
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Message 8 of 108 (441122)
12-16-2007 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Beretta
12-16-2007 8:50 AM


Thank you Beretta
Natural selection and variation within kinds is no problem.

This is the first fact to learn about evolution: this is what evolution is, the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation.

Evolution in the macro sense is not a problem for creationist beliefs, it is a problem full stop because it does not explain what we actually see. The usual icons given as proof for macroevolution all over the world are exaggerated or distorted and are not presented in a balanced way showing their shortcomings. If evolution is such a 'fact' -why are they not replaced with more convincing examples?

We can get to that when we get to macroevolution, or you can continue our discussion on the Dogs thread (I'll get to you there next).

They are not concerned with that definition but with the extrapolation that is implied and includes supposition of common ancestry and origin of life arising from chemicals through purely naturalistic processes.How much is real science and how much is pure materialistic philosophy?

And we'll cover this after we cover what the "Theory of Evolution" (ToE) is, as that is a major part of the answer.

Looks like we can move on then.

Enjoy.


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RAZD
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Message 9 of 108 (441282)
12-16-2007 11:21 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
12-15-2007 6:57 PM


Part 2 - the Theory of Evolution - hidden for now.
Content hidden until discussion returns to this level. Use {peek} so see if you need to.

In part 1 we established three (3) things:

(1) Evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation

Where:
trait is an aspect that can be quantified, such as an allele or variation of a gene, the length of a bone, the size of a skull, the color of an eye, the thickness of hair,
change is a measurable quantifiable difference in a trait, such as the number, length or color,
hereditary means that it is passed from parent to child,
population means a group of individual organisms of the same species, and
generation is the average time it takes for a newborn to become able to reproduce.

(2) that creationists should not be concerned about evolution as defined here, because this is the same as "variation and adaptation within kinds" or "microevolution" within their views and well accepted in creationist circles.

(3) that this was based on observation of changes in life in the present, not in the past or in the fossil record.

This is the basic evidence necessary for the Theory of Evolution (ToE).

In science, theories are based on evidence, evidence that is extensively reviewed for trends and tendencies, and then a conclusion is deduced, that {X} is caused by {Y}.

Darwin's big insight in his first book On the origin of species ...etc, was not that evolution was an on-going process (other people had noticed that), or that natural selection was a driving force (other people had noticed that), but that this process of evolution was sufficient to explain the diversity of life we know, from the present day to the fossil record.

He was not alone in this, Wallace had come to very much the same conclusions from the evidence around him in the Malay Archipelago (or the "East Indies," now Malaysia and Indonesia), and he recognized the importance of geographical barriers to diversity (See "Wallace Line"), which was instrumental to the early development of biogeography and speciation models.

So one way we can state the "Theory of Evolution" today is:

The Theory of Evolution is that the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation - evolution - is sufficient to explain all the diversity of life we know, in the present, in history, in the fossil record, and in the genetic record.

That's pretty grandiose, but somewhat cumbersome, and one of the problems with this statement of the theory is that it does not describe how evolution actually occurs, the mechanism/s to the process. We now have several mechanisms from Darwin's original natural selection to modern genetics mechanisms for mutations in genes\DNA, to other population mechanisms like neutral genetic drift and epigenetic factors. Each of the different mechanisms can be considered a theory for part of the whole sum total process (Darwin's theory of Natural Selection, mutation theory, germ theory, Gould/Eldridge's theory of Punctuated Equilibrium and other population dynamics theories, Fisher's Runaway Sexual Selection theory, various "mimicry" theories, epigenetic theories, etc), some of which are important in some situations while others are more important in different situations.

Thus modern evolutionary biology has developed a very wide range of theories covering a lot of different aspects of evolution as the science has matured. So the question is, how can we practically cover all these mechanisms within the "Theory of Evolution?" We can do this with a number of different levels of conciseness or detail.

In modern evolutionary biology the Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life (the natural history of life from the present day, to history, to the fossil record and the genetic record), is explained by:

(1) a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation.

(2) a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation; it includes theories on how change is enabled, and it includes theories on how changes made within each generation are selected.

(3) a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation; it includes theories on how change is enabled, due to the available variations (diversity) within populations from the formation and accumulation of different mutations in hereditary traits, and it includes theories on how changes made within each generation are selected, due to the differential response of organisms under prevailing ecological pressures to their individual development, their ability to pass on hereditary traits to the next generation, and their opportunities to disperse into other ecological habitats.

(4) a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation; it includes:

  • theories on how change is enabled
  • (list of theories on different mechanisms for the formation and accumulation of different mutations in hereditary traits within populations)
  • theories on how changes made within each generation are selected
  • (list of theories on different mechanisms of selection and where and when they operate)
  • etc
Now it may be interesting to flesh out #4 with the lists of theories from natural selection to genetic drift to punk-eek to runaway sexual selection ... etc, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

So a second (concise version) way we can state the "Theory of Evolution" today then is:

The Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation.

This solves the problem noted with the first statement for the theory, but there are a couple of things to notice about this statement of the theory, and they are:

(1) it is not a single theory but a synthesis, a compilation of contributory theories that all together add up to the Theory of Evolution.

(2) each of those individual contributory theories can be falsified (invalidated), and need to be revised, replaced or abandoned.

(3) invalidating contributory theories does not invalidate the overall synthesis, for that just changes the mix of contributory theories, and this makes it a robust theory, standing on many legs.

(4) the Theory of Evolution can be tested by all the evidence known to see if it is sound or invalidated by any piece of evidence from the natural history of life, from the present day, to history, to the fossil record and the genetic record.

(5) this still only involves mechanisms for "variation and adaptation within kinds" or "microevolution" as used by creationists, and thus that creationists should not be concerned about the Theory of Evolution as defined here.

Conclusions

(1) The Theory of Evolution can be stated several ways, with a concise statement being that the Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation.

(2) That IF the definition still only involves mechanisms for "variation and adaptation within kinds" or "microevolution" as used by creationists, AND "macroevolution" truly IS a different process, that THEN this theory will not be able to explain anything more than microevolution, and testing it against all the evidence should invalidate it. Thus creationists should not be concerned about the Theory of Evolution as defined here.

(3) The real issue, then, is testing the theory against the evidence to see how far it can explain the evidence.

But wait --- what about that BIG LIE?

The big lie is still what creationists say about evolution, that evolution is a problem for creationist beliefs, that there is something else, something evolution can't explain, that the "Theory of Evolution is that the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation" is NOT all there is to evolution and that it is NOT sufficient to explain all the diversity of life. But how do we know this without testing it?

If nobody objects to this definition of the Theory of Evolution, or you just agree to it for the sake of the argument, then we can move on to what Evolutionary Biology, the "Science of Evolution" involves, and see what develops, and see if that presents a problem for creationism.


Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : hiding text for discussion on Part 1 to catch up


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RAZD
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Message 22 of 108 (441355)
12-17-2007 8:16 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by mobioevo
12-16-2007 11:59 PM


Re: the Theory of Evolution definition
I think you should state or make more clear the "several validated theories" that you refer to so that there is no ambiguity to creationists or students of evolution in what you mean. This may seem cumbersome but I think it will bring more validity to your definition if you keep vague words out.

Thanks, that's why the several layers of detail vs conciseness are necessary.

The next level down was

(2) a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation; it includes theories on how change is enabled, and it includes theories on how changes made within each generation are selected.

Giving us a theory statement of

The Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of several validated theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation; it includes theories on how change is enabled, and it includes theories on how changes made within each generation are selected.

see the Definition of the Theory of Evolution thread

Welcome to the fray.

Enjoy.


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RAZD
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Message 42 of 108 (441460)
12-17-2007 7:11 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminNosy
12-15-2007 7:12 PM


Close Please. -- TOO OFF TOPIC for me to control
Could you close this thread.

It has gone way off topic and I don't have the time to catch all the run-away horses.

This thread is not supposed to be everybody's ideas about what the theory of evolution is or isn't but whether we can USE the definition provided.

Thanks


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RAZD
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Message 45 of 108 (442109)
12-20-2007 7:31 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Elmer
12-17-2007 7:02 PM


Re: the Theory of Evolution definition
Now if we can get back to the definition issue, can we use:

A Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation.

Where we define evolution as the (actually observed) change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation, and trying to explain all the diversity of life from the historical, fossil and genetic record to what we know today, is the test?

If we agree on the theory then we can move on to examples that test the theory.

Thanks.


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RAZD
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Message 46 of 108 (442111)
12-20-2007 7:40 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by mobioevo
12-17-2007 4:07 PM


Re: the Theory of Evolution definition
I checked out the link and find the previous definition. Maybe I lost the point of this thread if you already defined the "theory of evolution.'

The purpose of this thread is to build on both that one and one that was about the definition of evolution, to talk about what evolution is as a science. To do that I wanted to develop a line of argument from the process, where evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation, to a theory based on this process and the insight that this can explain the diversity of life.

Call this the "RAZD small change" theory if you like - that evolution and the mechanisms that cause evolution, is sufficient to explain the diversity of life:

A Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation.

If we can agree that this can be considered A theory of evolution, then we can move on to examples of how this works.

Enjoy.


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RAZD
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Message 53 of 108 (442368)
12-20-2007 8:33 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by Elmer
12-20-2007 10:06 AM


Good discussion with Elmer
Thanks for your input Elmer,

I find the given definition of evolution to be tendentious and sel-serving, at least for the 'selectionist' side of the debate. In the OP these statements were made---

I'm not sure what your problem is here, or what you mean by " the 'selectionist' side of the debate" -- mutation is a fact, selection is a fact: these have been observed in the lab and in nature, and I have a feeling you are trying to create a barrier to understanding, rather than clarification.

Stated this way this way, the real issue being examined is not evolution, but heredity. This definition reduces evolution to an epiphenomenon of inherited chemical configurations, i.e., nucleotides, DNAcid, 'alleles' and 'genes'. It is not that at all.

Of course it includes heredity, as non-hereditary features are not important for following generations, as they've been eliminated already. That's why it says "hereditary traits" in the definition. I find it funny when creationists seem to be so leery of just the word "evolution," and wan't to avoid any usage of it - like it's some boogieman to scare kids with - even when it is applied to a known and observed process. If it makes you feel better we can call it "RAZDism" and say that it is the same as "hereditary variation and adaptation" and is the "change in hereditary traits" in populations from generation to generation." The purpose is to agree on the process, so we can go with this if you want. This gives us:

"'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation."

"'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation."

OR

'variation and adaptation' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation.

This gives us a basis for further discussion if nothing else, and we can come back later to the issue of what is and is not "evolution."

Technically, 'alleles', 'genes', 'nucleotides' and other molecular configurations can be called 'traits', but that's pushing it.

Yet it can be measured and it can be compared from one generation to another, so it is a real effect, an observed (small) change in (something) hereditary. Perhaps it affects something in development or smell or some other aspect we do not see or understand. It may be that it needs to be in a population for a while before seeing the effect. If it is minor in it's effect on the phenotype/s, then it is not operating to make the phenotype less fit or selectable.

The fact is that that in terms of evolution, it is really the 'expressed' phenotypic traits that are referred to, ...

It is the phenotype that is subject to selection, whether survival or sexual, but that does not mean that all of the hereditary traits contribute to selection nor that they are not part of evolution when they don't - they still contribute to the change in hereditary traits from generation to generation. An example could colors and patterns of cat fur in domestic cats, no real effect as long as the cats are domestic pets, but as soon as they become feral selection tends to eliminate conspicuous colors and patterns. Thus a set of traits that seems unimportant in one ecology can become important in another and have an advantage due to hold-over heredity of those traits.

... that is, the traits that define and identify a certain taxon ...

You really need to look up taxon and start using it properly. The way you use it has no meaning. If you mean genus say genus, if you mean species, say species, if you mean variety, say variety. It is traits that define a genus, species or variety (see "type species" for usage), it is the relationship to a common ancestor that defines a taxon, whether they still have the same traits or not.

tax·on –noun A taxonomic category or group, such as a phylum, order, family, genus, or species.
(American Heritage Dictionary, 2007)

"Life" is a taxon.

I'd avoid anthropocentricity by substuting 'offspring' for child, but otherwise, OK.

If you avoid using "taxon" for species it's a deal. :D

... the traits that define and identify a certain taxon<species or variety> over sufficient sufficient generations to enable the empirical observation a certain reiterated set of organismic properties that distinguishes that taxon<species or variety> from any other.

You can also use "traits" for your cumbersome and confusing "organismic properties" ... what you are saying is essentially a tautology - a species with a set of traits that can be observed over several generations continues to be a species with a set of traits.

The fact is that at the molecular level many changes can and happen all the time, with no effect on the characteristic organismic traits which define a taxon, and discriminate one from another.

Let's look at it this way: minor variations that do not contribute to negative selection are still an element of selection. Selection occurs across a spectrum of phenotypes and not a matter of selecting only one "best" phenotype, just those that survive and reproduce according to their relative success at survival and reproduction.

Consider that variations in each trait, whether it only shows at a molecular level or whether it involves one or more molecular changes that (together) form a variation on a trait, can be set on an arbitrary scale from -10 (maximum negative selective value) to +10 (maximum positive selective value) and where 00 is selectively neutral (no negative or positive selective value):


-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 00 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10
___|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|___

Some sets of variations on a trait may range from -10 to +10 in selective value, while others may range from -1 to +1 or less. They are still part of the phenotype, part of the whole that is subject to selection.

Each phenotype will include a vast number of traits that can be placed on such a scale, and more successful ones will tend to be composed of mostly positive values and accumulate high positive value variations of traits, while less successful ones will tend to be composed of mostly negative values and have some high negative value variations of traits (negative selection would prevent their accumulation).

That there are traits that don't vary more than -1 to +1 does not mean that they don't contribute to selection, just because they don't contribute to positive selection, as they also don't contribute to negative selection.

If this is not clear we can continue this discussion on Evolution and Increased Diversity.

Moreover, the genomic configuration of 'nucleotides', 'alleles', 'genes', etc. can vary from individual to endividual across a taxon, without adding or subtracting any individual from that taxon and creating another one. To say that every time another individual is added to a taxon is to add another taxon to the global sum of taxons may, at an absurd level, be correct. But it is useless to science.

Again this is confused because of your use of "taxon" -- also a reason you are having trouble on Evolution and Increased Diversity.

When discussing science it is useful to use the terms as used in science in order to actually talk about the same meaning.

Thereforefore, the molecular 'evolution' of the 'genome', or 'genotype', must be distinguished from the evolution of the phenotype, as defined taxons. Allelic, genetic, and other macromolecular configurations may be called 'genomic traits' if that pleases the biochemists, within the confines of their particular discipline, but in terms of 'traits', evolutionary biology can only be legitimately considered from the taxonomic, i.e., phenotypic, standpoint.

Nope. If they are unimportant to changes that occur then they are unimportant during the time those changes occur, and they also don't contribute to negative changes.

So forget about the 'changes' that happen to the contents of genomes and ecosystems--the only 'trait'differences that matter to organismic evolution are essential changes distinguishing defined phenotypes [taxons].

How about we let them "forget" themselves and see what happens? It seems you have made a big issue about something that you think is insignificant: if it IS insignificant then it doesn't matter to the discussion of "hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation." If they are in the background then they will be in the background eh?

'Change' is merely an observable difference in something, anything, (be it an opinion or an icecap), over time, (be that interval a nano- second or a millenium). Besides those changes, such as those given above as examples, change can also occur in more than the simple extension of material properties-- function and productivity, for example, are not material properties, and 'function' is not even a "measurable quantifiable" trait. It is what it is, or it isn't. Like pregnancy.

Change can be in a feature or in an ability, it just needs to be quantifiable, and be able to be linked to the hereditary traits involved. Skin flaps on squirrels are quantifiable and can be linked to gliding ability for instance. You can also measure eye color, but find no survival advantage, yet still have a strong sexual selective value.

I prefer, 'taxon', and would add, 'gathered in the same same place at the same time'.

What {you} prefer is relatively unimportant if not irrelevant - "taxon" is just not used the way you have been using it and that usage is wrong.

The usual definition uses 'species' to define the ability to interbreed, while 'group' is used to distinguish those 'gathered in the same same place at the same time' from the rest of the members of that species that are not in the group. They are "grouped" in time and space to form a "group".

Saying "average" means that you are confining the word 'generation' to populations. Which is fine if you are discussing the ecological evolution of populations, in which statistical sums constitute 'traits'. But numbers of members within sets called 'populations', or even numbers of members within sets called taxons [eg., 'species'], have nothing to do with organismic evolution, only ecological [ecosystem]evolution. Organismic evolution only happens when a novel taxon is added to the biosphere, or an old taxon is subtracted from it.

Again, you are making a verbal mountain out of a semantic molehill. Evolution of a species is related to the life cycle of that species and no other, and generation is a convenient measure that also ties in to the need to survive AND reproduce in order to be successful. As for usage, again we can refer to a common definition as a standard:

gen·er·a·tion –1. All of the offspring that are at the same stage of descent from a common ancestor: Mother and daughters represent two generations.
2. Biology A form or stage in the life cycle of an organism: asexual generation of a fern.
3. The average interval of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring.
(American Heritage Dictionary, 2007)

We could also use the average life-span of organisms, but then we run into problems with species like humans where the period of reproduction occurs mostly in the younger years and individuals can live for very long periods of time and have no offspring. The length of a generation as defined here is what affects Malthus's population explosion, rather than the average lifespan of individuals.

This 'definition' is vacuous (what exactly, is "a synthesis of theories", pray tell?) and 'heredity-centric'. That is, it may serve as a definition for 'biological inheritance theory', but it falsely conflates inheritance with evolution, and so is a false definition of evolution, being tendentiously and inappropriately forced upon it by those whose particular jobs/livelihoods are all about inheritance studies.

We can come back to this once we deal with the process definition first, let's not put too much on the plate at once eh? This is long enough. Thanks.

Enjoy

Edited by RAZD, : added spectrum

Edited by RAZD, : consistent replacement of "evolution" with "RAZDism" or "variation and adaptation"


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by Elmer, posted 12-20-2007 10:06 AM Elmer has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 55 by Elmer, posted 12-21-2007 2:27 AM RAZD has responded
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RAZD
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Posts: 20044
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 54 of 108 (442375)
12-20-2007 9:40 PM
Reply to: Message 50 by Cold Foreign Object
12-20-2007 5:24 PM


Notes for Ray // note edits
Thanks for the insight your posts provide, Ray. I'll reply to all your posts in this one (as needed).

Message 48

You have not described any part of the alleged evolutionary process. This is a description of variation (excluding the out of place "allele/variation of a gene component").
General Reader: RAZD has presupposed 'evolution.' He then creates a list of heritable or non-heritable variations that are assumed to be evolutionary causations or part of the evolutionary process. But, in and by themselves, these variations (whatever their cause) is not evolution.

For those interested in Ray's understanding of what evolution is (and isn't), I refer you to the definition of evolution, message 192, where I showed that Ray was using a quote-mine from Mayr to misrepresent his position. I'll be happy to continue that discussion on that thread, Ray. Elmer may be interested as well.

For the purposes of this thread it doesn't really matter what we call it as long as we agree on what we are talking about. Communication is about ideas, and ideas can be described many different ways. As I noted to Elmer:

quote:
If it makes you feel better we can call it "RAZDism" and say that it is the same as "hereditary variation and adaptation" and is the "change in hereditary traits" in populations from generation to generation." The purpose is to agree on the process, so we can go with this if you want. This gives us:

"'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation."

"'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation."

OR

'variation and adaptation' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation.


Evolution is an inference; one species has changed into a completely different species over vast amount of time. So far, RAZD has not evidenced evolution. Variation is not evolution. Darwin had no clue as to the origin of variation, and the modern theory was built having no clue, as well. RAZD has simply described evidence of special creation.

However variation is produced or caused the same corresponds to a mechanism reflecting Divine power. It occurs in the womb; therefore, the womb is a mechanism that produces special creation, and that mechanism itself reflects Divine power or craftsmanship. Evolution says biological reality does not reflect Divine power. But I have just shown you that it does.

Modification evolution (also known as "gradualism") is an alleged process postulated to have taken billions of years to produce us and the nature that we see today. It cannot be observed because it is too slow for the naked eye to see. This is a big lie written by RAZD, or he has confused variation with macroevolution.

We are not talking about this aspect of the theory of evolution yet, so we can come back to this issue later. If Ray (still) doesn't like the way "evolution" is defined in the evolutionary biology science, we can use "RAZDism" as defined above to focus on the process under discussion.

False.

Fortunately, as has been amply demonstrated, nature is not in any way even inclined to be restricted by your opinion. You are free to maintain that all you want, and we'll proceed to study what nature actually does. K?

Now RAZD admits that he has been defining evolution incorrectly - intentionally. It is not even microevolution - just variation. But this is precisely where RAZD is lying. The lie is the admission, which is simply a disclaimer to silence Creationists. RAZD really believes variation is evolutionary.

I'll repeat what I said above, to make the point clear:

For the purposes of this thread it doesn't really matter what we call it as long as we agree on what we are talking about. Communication is about ideas, and ideas can be described many different ways. As I noted to Elmer:

quote:
If it makes you feel better we can call it "RAZDism" and say that it is the same as "hereditary variation and adaptation" and is the "change in hereditary traits" in populations from generation to generation." The purpose is to agree on the process, so we can go with this if you want. This gives us:

"'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation."

"'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation."

OR

'variation and adaptation' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation.


Message 50

I have read enough of this thread to see why you want it closed, RAZD. You are taking a beating.

Which is why I also asked for the topic to be reopened, just to be consistent? Your logic fails you again Ray, or do you want to continue the discussion of why seashells are not obvious evidence of a global flood. I never got a (good) answer to the question of why seashells 10 to 30 years old on mountain tops was evidence of a much briefer (in theory) flood, Ray. The tread is still open, so you are free to answer it. (it would be off-topic here, this is just an(other) example of Ray's logic)

That was Darwin's definition - good grief!

Here we have a camel (a horse created by commitee). Gene-centric to standard Mayr-Naturalist inference evolution.

Pure gene-centric.
Ernst Mayr has said that evolution IS NOT a change in gene frequencies. EvC Forum member, Elmer, has explained this to you slightly up-thread.

Note (1) that none of this invalidates the definition for the process of evolution as:

Evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation,

and (2) that Ray has not learned that misrepresenting what Mayr actually said is a falsehood. Again I refer you to the definition of evolution, message 192, where I showed that Ray was using a quote-mine from Mayr to misrepresent his position.

Microevolution is an interpretation of evidence that presupposes the falsity of a Genesis Deity active in reality. The interpretation is based on the conceptual mechanism of natural selection to select beneficial changes, thus propelling microevolution. Creationists accept God as the Designer and Creator - not natural selection. Therefore, we reject microevolution to have happened because we reject natural selection as creator.
Your definition: "evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" relies on an anti-Bible assumption, and the assumption that Fundamentalist creationism and their acceptance of microevolution is the Creationist view - it is not.
Atheist-evolutionism and Fundamentalist-creationism agree with one another concerning microevolution. In my opinion this evidence alone is the best evidence that microevolution is false.

So instead we'll talk about RAZDism, where:

"'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation"?

"'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

OR

"'variation and adaptation' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

Message 51

You are evidently making a personal point in the form of Moderation. I am comforted that my post, and its arguments, has caused this. My recent posting history shows scant activity, so banning me is not punitive in any way.

I don't mind your input Ray as long as you stick to the topic. K?

Enjoy

Edited by RAZD, : subtractions & additions

Edited by RAZD, : missed one

Edited by RAZD, : missed another


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 50 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-20-2007 5:24 PM Cold Foreign Object has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 58 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-21-2007 2:57 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
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Posts: 20044
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 61 of 108 (442541)
12-21-2007 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 58 by Cold Foreign Object
12-21-2007 2:57 PM


Re: Notes for Ray
Mayr said two things:

1. Evolution is not a change in gene frequencies (said in Preface).

2. But genetics is important to evolutionary theory (importance explained in the chapters).

The point I was making using Mayr was to have a source that rejects a gene-centric definition of evolution. Mayr rejects evolution defined at the genetic level but he admits genetics is important to evolutionary theory. Pease do not misrepresent this issue or the plain points I have made above. I think you need to acknowledge that not EVERY evolutionist defines 'evolution' at the genetic level, RAZD.

Nor do I, seeing as my definition given previously of evolution is "the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" and that is not a genetic definition ... your point would be? Also, I find the genetic definition impossible to use outside of instances where you can actually measure genetics, such as with fossils.

I also showed you (the definition of evolution, message 192) that Mayr said

quote:
Evolution is best understood as the genetic turnover of the individuals of every population from generation to generation.
-- Ernst Mayr (2001) What Evolution Is, Basic Books, New York p.76

Molecular genetics has found that mutations frequently occur in which the new allele produces no change in the fitness of the phenotype. ... Evolution involves the fitness of individuals and populations, not of genes. When a genotype, favored by selection, carries along as hitchhikers a few newly arisen and strictly neutral alleles, it has no influence on evolution. This may be called evolutionary "noise," but it is not evolution. ... Having no effect on the phenotype, they are immune to selection.
-- ibid p.199


And as I said before, here we have an explicit statement where he explains why "a change in gene frequencies" is not evolution, in his opinion, because it involves genes that are not subject to selection, while he says previously that genes that are subject to selection are evolution. See the distinction?

Here you have stipulated a definition, which is fine.

Good. So we can now move on to how a definition for a "theory of evolution" could be phrased?

Now, what is the "big lie" told by Creationists? I assume you are talking about Creationists that accept microevolution? RAZD, what do these Creationists propose for a mechanism accomplishing the micro-changes?

The lie is that this is not evolution. That it is just variation and adaptation. Surely you seen those claims. It doesn't matter what scale it is, this is still evolution, hereditary traits subject to selection (to use Mayr). The lie is that 'evolution doesn't occur' (but we'll call it something else and allow that to occur - the name shell game).

Enjoy.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-21-2007 2:57 PM Cold Foreign Object has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 63 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-21-2007 5:17 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20044
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 62 of 108 (442557)
12-21-2007 4:50 PM
Reply to: Message 55 by Elmer
12-21-2007 2:27 AM


Discussion with Elmer, getting bogged down in details
My problem was with your OP definition, which is little diffferent from your last statement, "A Theory of Evolution is that all the diversity of life is explained by a synthesis of theories on how hereditary traits in populations change from generation to generation." First, at this stage we are supposedly defining 'evolution' itself. Once that is done we can move on to an explanion of what causes evolution.

BTW, when we begin talking about developing a valid 'theory',for the mechanism that drives evolution, we should do that without 'a priori' peconceptions of what it is, working from the decided definition of the phenomenon to hypotheses regarding its causation that can be empirically observed, tested, and verified in scientific [empirical]rather than metaphysical terms.

Now, above, you say "A" theory of evolution, which would make more grammatical sense if, instead of "A" , you said "One", implying that more than one exists, which is true, or "The", which implies that only one 'theory'of evolution exists, which is not true. Even granting that there is one hypothesis of evolution which is called, by its adherents, "THE" theory of evolution.

Again, let's come back to this when we talk about the theory of evolution (Part 2) and not the process (Part 1).

As it happens, that hypothesis sounds suspiciously similar to what you describe in your statement. This leads me to believe that you are not looking for a proper empirical definition of 'evolution' per se, but rather, presnting, 'fait accompli', a tendentious, notional definition of evolution that has built into it a presupposed and pre-accepted explanation for evolution. This, to me, smacks of circular argument and question-begging.

Do you agree that variation and adaptation occur? Further, that it occurs in all populations of all species from one generation to another whenever investigated? It doesn't need to be major selection going on, as someone (Fisher I believe) calculated that a <1% rate of selection per generation was enough to cause a major long term trend.

Can we go with "evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" ...

... or do we need to stay with "'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation"?

... or do we need to stay with "'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

"Selectionist" is defined thusly--"somebody supporting natural selection: a believer or promoter of the theory that natural selection is the chief or only force governing biological development"

Needless to say we would all be 'selectionist' if there were no dissenters to this notion, i,e., if there were no 'other side' to the 'evolution's mechanism' debate.

Facts are self-evident. They are data, observations of what is. But in and of themselves they are meaningless. What matters are the inferences drawn from facts, and the hypotheses derived from these inferences, and finally the principles/theories derived once these hypotheses have been validated via the well-known scientific method.

In the selectionist pov, the fact of random genetic mutation is sufficient to explain evolution, without taking the necessary steps that lie between observed fact and established universal principle.

IAC, although 'random genetic mutations' are factual,what is not factual is the assumption that all and every genetic mutation is accidental, i.e., random. Nor that these random mutations can account for increased biosystem productivity, just as they have been empirically shown to account for decreased biosystem productivity.

All of which doesn't relate to whether evolution or RAZDism occurs, so we can hold that for discussing the theory issue if we need to. I'll just note that the fact of relativity was not self-evident to Newton, and that you've got some assumptions here that may not be true.

I'm disappointed that you believe that. AFAIAC, I'm digging out implied assumptions and revealing that these assumptions are often unfounded, illogica, and downright false. No matter how plausible they sound at first blush.

Well it seems that your posts are frequently like you get the ball, put your head down and run for the endzone before checking that it's the right one first.

Let's keep this real simple and talk about whether we can we go with "evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" or if we need to stay with "'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation" for now. or if we need to stay with "'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" for now.

Message 57

Well, in truth, where biological evolution is concerned, and aside from those rare instances where one organism consciously or, more oftern unconsciously, selects one member of the opposite sex to be its sexual partner and so join in the mutual effort of generating offspring, [that is, what is commonly called, 'sexual selection], selection' is as far from being a 'fact' as it is possible to get. It is only a notional mental construct when presented as if it were a causal mechanism in the specified and universal sense that science requires for efficient causes. And it is only a vacuous truism when presented as an observed current state of ecological affairs. And finally, it is only an arbitrary, ad hoc, label for the generality of statistical quantitative changes/fluctuations in the organismic contents of ecosystems and 'populations' over time.

Nobody has as yet observed, either in the lab or in nature, a case where random genetic mutation is indisputably the causal mechanism for an increase in the productivity of a biosystem. That is simply the metaphysical assumption that some people make and propose be accepted as a 'given', even as an empirical 'fact'. Moreover, human experience with productive systems in general, especially productive machine systems, is in direct contradiction to this assumption, since always and everywhere it is observed that accidental change to such systems invariably decrease productivity, and never increase it.

Okay, so you are in denial about the occurrence of selection and random mutation (or confused at any rate), no problem: we can discuss this when we get to the application of the theory of evolution (if we ever get there) to the evidence of evolution (Part 3) - if we need to.

Also, nobody has ever observed, in the lab or in the field, a case in which 'natural selection' rises above the level of a meaningless truism, that is a trivial observation of an effect, i.e., the
current state of local ecosystem composition.

In other words it is a trivial meaningless truism whenever it is an actual observed fact?

Of course 'heredity' is a part of evolution, and is subsumed within that process. I never denied it. Evolution is more than just 'any old change in an organism'.
What I _am_ denying is the neo-darwinian, 'Modern Synthesis', Fisherian assumption-- that evolution is subsumed within genetics, [including population genetics]. That is, the condition wherein evolution is reduced to being just one facet of the study of heredity. The opinion that evolution is merely an epiphenomenon of faulty inheritance mechanisms.

And we can talk about this when we get to the application of the theory to examples of evolution (Part 3).

You can, of course, call it whatever you wish. The trick is to get people to agree with you. Inherited variety wrt traits, [which I take you to mean by "hereditary variation and adaptation"] can be unchanging, constant, static within a particular taxon, or can be seen as constantly changing and reconfiguring itself between individual members of that taxon, with no reference to 'evolution' whatsoever--IOW, just heredity, plain and simple.

The trick is to reach common understanding of what the terms we are using mean. Such as taxon (you'd be better to use "kind" as a typical creationist vague term and which we all understand to mean a vague group of individuals).

I think it necessary to arrive at a generally accepted definition of the process [evolution] itself, apsrt from its supposed causal mechanisms.

So, can we go with "evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" ...

... or do we need to stay with "'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation"?

... or do we need to stay with "'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

No causal mechanisms there.

BUT, if you think that this thread is only about the proposition that evolution, per se, is a real phenomenon, rather than a hypothetical one, then you need to confine your debate to creationists. Since I am not one of their number, my opinions are irrelevent to your issue, and perhaps I should bow out?

Whether you call it "the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" or "the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation" it is an observed and documented real phenomenon, a fact. Speciation has been observed and is another documented real phenomenon, a fact. Denial of these facts does not make them go away.

The issue is to recognize this fact, this reality in our everyday objective reality world ...

... and then move on to theory/ies on mechanisms, and whether or not we can apply this to all the diversity of life we know.

btw -- I think you can see why it is important to focus on each step and not be carried away into other areas just because "evolution" means a process, OR a theory/ies OR a science (study).

So which is it?

(1) "evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" ...

OR perhaps

(1a) "(micro)evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" ...

OR

(2) "'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation"?

(2) "'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

OR

(2a) "'variation and adaptation' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : 1a added

Edited by RAZD, : subtractions & additions

Edited by RAZD, : 2a


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 55 by Elmer, posted 12-21-2007 2:27 AM Elmer has not yet responded

  
RAZD
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Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 64 of 108 (442583)
12-21-2007 5:45 PM
Reply to: Message 63 by Cold Foreign Object
12-21-2007 5:17 PM


Re: Back On Topic
Thanks Ray,
According to your own arguments said definition is based - in part - on a genetic-based definition. Don't get me wrong: I actually like it because it is not overtly genetic-based or centric.

You know EvC member Elmer has, in my view, gone to great lengths to conceal his bias. ... when I read Elmer I can hear Mayr speaking.

The point is: you want it both ways at the same time. If someone criticizes you for gene-centricism you have an out. If someone criticizes you for a Mayr-Naturalist-based definition you have an out.

Both those comments occurred to me, that is why I put in the spectrum in my response to Elmer:


-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 00 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10
___|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|___

I fully concur with Mayr (and many others) that selection occurs on the phenotype, the individual organism that succeeds in surviving to breed to the best of their (relative) ability.

I disagree with Mayr (as do many others) that neutral drift is not an element of evolution, if for no other reason than these "neutral" elements are not negative elements. Personally I think they are important to allow elements to be dispersed in populations to increase diversity within the population and give the species protection against random ecological change or an opportunity to invade new ecologies.

Consider that a certain phenotype may have a selectively neutral version of a trait while other phenotypes had -2 selectively negative or +2 selectively positive versions and thus the trait could affect the success of the others in comparison to the one with the neutral version: that's a selective difference.

Good point. And again that was one of Mayr's reasons for rejecting the gene-centricism of the Ronald Fisherian school. And once more: we are only talking about the best definition of 'evolution'. Mayr wants it in visible reality based on inference and out of the microscopic world of genetics. And again: Elmer is correct when he pointed out that there are genetic changes that have nothing to do with evolution.

Mayr came to evolution from being a field naturalist (specializing in birds IIRC), so this is a natural result.

Do they not accept microevolution?
And they accept microevolution - right?
Yes, I have. But my understanding is that they accept microevolution within kinds, which is simply saying that a genetic barrier exists preventing macroevolution.

Yes, but not that it is {EVOLUTION}.

You probably have a point. If they accept microevolution you have a point. Personally, I do not see how a Creationist can accept microevolution. It will inevitably lead to points that you are making. This is why some time ago I announced that my view had changed: I reject microevolution to have ever occurred. Apparently these Creationists do not see the damning position that they are in.

Life gets interesting Ray.

So, are we on for

(1) "(micro)evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"

OR

(2) "'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation"

to move ahead with?

Edited by RAZD, : added


This message is a reply to:
 Message 63 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-21-2007 5:17 PM Cold Foreign Object has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-22-2007 1:37 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20044
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 66 of 108 (442989)
12-23-2007 11:08 AM
Reply to: Message 65 by Cold Foreign Object
12-22-2007 1:37 PM


Waiting for Elmer
Both.
But what is the point?
Where are you going with this?

Next will be Part 2 - a theory developed from Part 1 (the process). I am probably going to reword it from the previous version (to prevent inadvertent misunderstanding of which evolution applies where) and change the emPHAsis for clarity, but I want to get Elmer on board with the process for a base first.

So, for Elmer (from Message 62):

So which is it?

(1) "evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" ...

OR perhaps

(1a) "(micro)evolution is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation" ...

OR

(2) "'RAZDism' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

OR

(2a) "'variation and adaptation' is the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation"?

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : emPHAsis

Edited by RAZD, : (2) was "'RAZDism' is the hereditary variation and adaptation in a population from generation to generation"? - changed for consistency and clarity

Edited by RAZD, : 2a


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-22-2007 1:37 PM Cold Foreign Object has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 67 by Elmer, posted 12-23-2007 4:32 PM RAZD has not yet responded

  
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