I don't think your 'definition' from Wikipedia really cuts the mustard. In the first place that article starts off...
In biology, mutations are changes to the genetic material (usually DNA or RNA). Mutations can be caused by copying errors in the genetic material during cell division and by exposure to radiation, chemicals (mutagens), or viruses, or can occur deliberately under cellular control during processes such as meiosis or hypermutation.
This is a much better definition of mutation as well as an explanation of some of the origins of mutation. The article only then goes on to describe mutations as the driving force of evolution on the second paragraph.
In biological terms saying that mutation is 'the driving force of evolution' really tells us nothing unless we understand what a mutation actually is.
This is a whole area I have hardly any understanding of, and Crash also said, I think in his post #170, that all of us get both our parents' alleles in different cells throughout our bodies -- if I got that right. I thought all our cells were some kind of package of both that defines us.
I think you misunderstood this, Crash explained several different things in that post and you seem to have got them mixed up.
1st- We do normally inherit an allele for each gene from each parent for all autosomal chromosomes (those that aren't sex chromosomes) and this genetic complement should be the same in every cell barring somatic mutation.
2nd- Because the sex chromosome, X and Y, have different genes on them mutations affecting those genes can have different effect. Crash gave the example of sex linked mutations which are common in men but rare in women due to women having 2 copies of the gene and both needing to be mutated for the disease to occur whereas men only have one copy on the single X chromosome they inherited from their mother. One obvious example would be the case of haemophilia.
3rd- This is what I think confused you the most. In women where there are 2 copies of the X chromosome one of these copies becomes largely inactivated. this inactivation occurs early in development but at a stage where there are still many distinct cells. Which X chromosome is inactivated in each cell is random so the resulting organism will be mosaic for which X chromosome is active in different cell lineages from those cells at the arly developmental stage, all of those early cells daughters will have maintained the same X chromosome in an inactive state. This gives rise in cats to calico patterning, where there are patches of light and dark fur, as there are pigmentation genes on the X chromosome.
But of course I was taken to task for my definition of "beneficial" which is too strict apparently as I can't accept most of the examples given as beneficial.
Your 'definition', which I never really saw defined, is not too strict if anythin it is too vague, it is also A)wrong and B) highly subjective.
All your definition seems to consist of is whether you personally think that the mutation confers a benefit in the colloquial sense of being 'good' for the organism. Whereas in evolutionary terms the only benefit that matters is that a particular allele is passed on more frequently than an alternative allele or that organisms posessing a gene reproduce more frequently than those lacking that gene.
I get that mutations do happen that have a beneficial function although they also have destructive properties.
This seems to suggest that any beneficial mutation must also have a downside, there is no reason this need be the case. In fact this seems to be rather jumping the gun and making what should be what you are trying to show into one of your initial assumptions.
The process of mutation can produce both beneficial and detrimental mutations, and which is which may depend on the environmental context. The concept of 'destructive properties' is not a biological one and seems wrapped up in this creationist view of organisms as having some sort of platonically ideal complement of genes from which any change can only be downhill.
and the evidence for its ability to drive evolution is really just not there for whatever reason.
All this really seems to mean is that no one has experimentally observed a monkey evolving into a man, this is essentially the same old ludicrous cat gives birth to dog requirement. All of the bacterial studies you decide to ignore show exactly that mutation is the source of the variation upon which natural selection acts and is therefore required for evolution.
If you do 'get' the idea of mutation and evolution then you would not expect to see experimentally observed examples of the evolution of the sorts of complex traits which take great spans of time to evolve. What we might expect to see with the resources we have available we do see.
If we did see such complex traits suddenly developing from nowhere in a population then I would consider that fairly convincing evidence for some form of intelligent design.
Consider the many drosophilia experiments; Over 3000 mutations have occured as the result of radioactive exposure. These mutations have resulted in eyes, wings, and other body parts appearing in atypical locations on the fruit fly (eyes on the legs, extra wings). All of these body parts have been undeniably fruit-flyish (that is, the eyes are fruit fly eyes, the legs fruit fly legs, etc). None of these 3000 mutations have resulted in a more successful fruit fly.
Can you provide any evidence that any of these drosophila experiments were actually designed to produce 'a more successful fruit fly'. This is a popular bit of anti-evolution clap trap which ignores the fact that most of the large scale mutational screens, such as the seminal Nusslein-volhard and Wieschauss screen (Nusslein-volhard and Wieschauss, 1980), on drosophila were specifically performed to identify genes which were embryonic lethals or for other equally apparent large scale phenotypic effects and in most cases were the product of induced mutations by crude methods such as radiation exposure of treatment with mutagens.
If you think that is not the case then please provide some references for these drosophila experiments which were meant to result in 'a more successful fruit fly'.
So what you are saying is that you have absolutely nothing to back up your claims and you are just making this shit up as you go along, fair enough.
since you are essentially speeding up the otherwise unobservable proccess by mass accumulating mutations...
*Bzzzzt Sorry our survey says you have a fundamental lack of understanding of the processes of mutation. The source of the incremental changes which lead to complex adaptations in the course of evolution are not exposure to massive doses of ionising radiation or mutagenic chemicals. Thank you for playing.
Now how about that definition of genetic information, you might still win the consolation prize.
Gain of information of this sort has not been observed
Gain of what information? You haven't described any gain of information in anything other but the vaguest of sense and still in terms of wanting an experimental observation of the sudden appearance of the sort of structures that take long stretches of time to develop.
If you think you can give us a proper usable definition by going into the genetics in depth then please do so, I'm sure we can stand a little genetics
nor does genetics confirm that it is even possible
What does this mean? Genetics certainly allows for it, what do you mean by 'confirm' other than actual experimental confirmation?
the actual genetic pathways involved in eye formation from one species to the next is extremely divergent
From one species to the next? Is that really what you mean? How highly divergent are the genetics between the development of human and chimp eyes? I'd certainly agree that there are significant differences between the development of vertebrate than invertebrate eyes, but from species to species I think you might only find significant differnces in a small number of cases.
I'd go with Brad on this and imagine that an 'unindividualised' body plan would be something like the vertebrate bauplan consisting of a general set of physical attributes shared by the vertebrates, even if i highly derived forms in some instances. The individuated body plan would then take into account derived features and novel structures which a particular clade might have.
So a tetrapod unindividuated body plan might have things like a spinal cord, a head two sets of paired appendages, a post anal tail and so forth while a rhino's body plan would include specific details like his horn.
And these plans encompass not only the morphology but the developmental pathways which are taken to produce them.
Re: Trying to steer the past sub-thread back on topic
This is ridiculous. In other words you are saying we have to accept evolution, period.
It isn't that you have to accept evolution per se but that you should accept evolutionary theories own estimations as to what could reasonably be expected to be experimentally observed arising in terms of mutation in line with that theory. This is in contrast to just picking your own arbitrary standard for what constitutes a beneficial mutation and insisting that evolutionary theory toes the line if it is to be credible.
RAAARRRRRRGH!!!!! You have awoken the slumbering beast!!!!
This sites is riddled with innaccuracies, it is one of my prticular bugbears since it is so often cited in relation to the evolution of nylon metabolisis. A much better reference would either be to the paper that the NMSR site misrepresents (Ohno, 1984) which is freely available online or to the much more relevant to this discussion Prijambada (1995) paper which actually discusses the de novo development of nylonase enzymes.