The Theory of Evolution - it's simple. Let's get rid of misunderstandings [Small discussion]

last year

First of all let's clarify something:

Theory of Evolution - what does it do

  • It explains how life forms develop and diversify over generations.
  • It's based on scientific facts, can be verified.
  • starts with some well known facts (physical traits of parent life) and see which forms are inherited by the next generation (through artificial process or natural selection)

Theory of Evolution - what doesn't do

  • doesn't explain how the Universe was born, our species beginning.
  • doesn't say anything about GOD's existence, aliens, if religion is good or bad, true or false.

Second a scientific theory is not just a theory = a personal opinion.

A scientific theory is

  1. a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way
    consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria
    required by modern science.
  1. contains a body of well substantiated facts that can be verified.

The evolution can be done

  1. by artificial process (selective breeding). Ex: species of dogs, cats, horses, etc.
  2. natural selection.

HOW ?

By mating together individuals that exhibit those traits most strongly and repeating this process with successive generations.

Breed only from horses with good competition records and their offspring will tend to perform well.

Breed only from aggressive dogs and their offspring will tend to be aggressive.

Artificial evolution and natural selection are similar

If a greyhound breeder selects only the fastest dogs for breeding stock and in the wild only the fastest gazelles outrun their predators and survive to reproduce, then both nature and the greyhound breeder are favoring certain individuals for reproducing offspring and passing on
their genetic information to the next generation.

Mutation is not good or bad. It's extremely simple and ordinary.

Mutation is not about dramatic malformations like animals with 2 heads.
Mutation is everywhere and is natural.

Mutations are simply changes in genetic variation within a population brought about by insertions, deletions and recombinations of the DNA sequence.

But mutation isn't the only cause of variation because it's not only the DNA sequence that's important to evolution.

Epigenetics studies for example show the genes can be switched on or off and that this genetic activation or inhibition can be inherited and expressed in later generations.

Genetic changes are harmless, mostly.

Most variations are neutral and have no impact on an organism survival, accumulating naturally over successive generations in what's known as genetic drift.

BUT

A variation in color for example could have a major impact.

Example: for some insect,

  1. If genetic variation make some of its offspring less
    conspicuous to predators they'll have a greater chance of surviving
    and reproducing and in the course of time the insects with this
    variation may become more abundant.

  2. If the variation makes other offspring more conspicuous to predators they may not survive to reproduce and the variation may vanish or become suppressed because of natural selection.

Evolution is an accident ?

Let's see.

Camouflage capabilities, hooves, petals, antennae, fins, wings, eyes and roots have evolved in the natural world. Not in the laboratory.

All these physical traits have served specific functions in contributing towards different organisms' reproductive success. Clearly if the organisms that have these traits manage to reproduce they perpetuate their genetic information. Including the information for the traits. For the next generation.

But this is a game ... a game of genes, traits

Not quite a game but similar.

For example, traits that give no particular advantage can still be favoured if they're associated with other traits that do.

Bulk may be a great advantage for a walrus (he dominates its rivals). but it would be a distinct disadvantage for a small monkey (that lives in the trees).
But it's not an accident that walruses are bulky and small monkeys are agile. These physical attributes have helped them survive and improve in their respective environments.
And to compete for reproduction.

This is not luck. Like the probability of winning the jackpot. Miraculous accidents are the opposite of what evolution is about.

Dramatic change can be achieved one small step at a time. This is what does the evolution mean.

countless mostly minute changes have accumulated over millions of years.

But evolution it's more than variation. Much more. And interesting.

If members of a given species become geographically isolated from each other, each group may end up having to respond to different environments and predators.

And adapt to very different ways of gathering the food.

And genetic variations will no longer be shared throughout the whole population, but only within each group.

In this way, genetic drift and natural selection can lead to the emergence of two distinct populations which, after a given period of time are no longer related closely enough to interbreed.

A catch. Little attention, please.

The Theory of Evolution doesn't say that organisms from one species suddenly produce organisms from another. Dogs don't produce cats.

Nor does it say that individual organisms change species. Individual apes don't morph into humans.

If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes ?

  1. Humans didn't evolve from the apes we see today. We and modern apes have a common ancestor. Different from both.
  2. When one life form evolves into another that doesn't mean the first life form has to stop existing.

Example:

We have a monkey population. It changes very little from one generation to another.
A part of this population goes to a new environment. A bad one. The new group changes dramatically because of the environment. The first group remains much the same.
After many generations there are 2 very different populations. The second population can not look the same. It's not a demand, to look the same after generations and generations.

Nature doesn't reward just any random combination of features. Even highly specialized animals are being driven to extinction all the time.

Nature rewards only whatever is efficient at reproducing itself.

Why we bother understanding the evolution ? Why should we care ?

Not only because is essential to our understanding of biology.
You know, viruses that quickly evolve to be resistant to our defences can be a problem. A major one.
Not only for the curiosity of generations of dedicated scientists. Not for them. No.

It' because many reasons. The most important, in my humble opinion:
we finally get some answers to our biggest questions about life on this planet.

This is the scientific inheritance we pass on to new generations. This is a legacy that is important: will refine our/their education.


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#science #evolution #theoryofevolution

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Interesting, thank you for sharing; it's given me much to think about.

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Thank you for your patience. It's not a short one. :)

I absolutely enjoyed your post. I love everything about evolution and how simple it is once you open your mind to it. Big fan of Richard Dawkins work.

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Yeah, I'm also a big fan of Richard Dawkins. Thank you for your compliment.

Good intro.

Upvoted. Followed.

I submitted you for Project Curie, You might get a whale upvote soon ;)

But, the evidence for macro evolution isn't conclusively demonstrable. Micro evolution is provable and demonstrable. Macro is not demonstrable, due to the time required. Just saying.

Peace.

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Wow, your project is really really good. I didn't saw it until now. I like your reasons for doing that and especially the featured posts.

You found some very good content there. I'll join you.

Thank you for adding me in this, also. :)

Thanks for your work on this. It's an interesting topic. From the other side of the discussion:

Hypothesis
-A hypothesis is a possible (tentative) scientific explanation or prediction of an observation or set of observations.
-In general, a hypothesis is based on a rather limited set of data.
-A hypothesis must be testable through a scientific investigation.
-Observations gathered during investigations provide evidence that either support or do not support hypotheses. If evidence supports the hypothesis, the hypothesis is said to be valid.
-Usually one or more scientists working together make hypotheses.

Theory
-A theory is a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. A theory is used to explain many different hypotheses about the same phenomenon or a closely related class of phenomena.
-Scientific theories are well-established and highly-reliable explanations that have been verified multiple times by repeated testing and have a great deal of empirical evidence that confirm them as valid.
-Scientific theories are capable of being tested by many different scientists working independently of each other.
-A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Theories can be disproven.

Without being observed, it cannot advance to a true scientific theory, regardless of the claims of various scientific groups. Adaptations and changes within a species are clearly evident. Changes from one species to another have not been observed.

There are additional challenges, such as the principles of irreducible complexity and specified complexity, that stand in opposition. Most evolutions reject these principles as pseudoscience, but the intelligent design scientists claim the same about evolution. http://www.evolutionnews.org/ offers some scientific insights.

Interestingly, ID scientists claim that theirs is a theory as well. Yet creation obviously cannot be tested or observed, so it seems that it might be relegated to being a hypothesis as well.

I know we won't convince each other, but did want to share another scientific perspective.

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Wow, thank you for your effort to read and to reply in so detail. I'm also leaning towards intelligent design paradigm. It's newer than old Darwin's work so it's more appealing. Also, the consciousness was not a scientific thing in his time.

Even more, as ID is not creationism nor darwinism, I think I can learn a lot from your perspective.
External actions (from another planetary system, another species, another universe in the Multiverse we are living in) are also a way of exploring this. I'm not against this way also.

My main strong point is: I don't think old Creationism is strongly enough in the modern era to sustain a valid approach. But ID could be.

Thank you for pointing this out.

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Thanks!! It's a fascinating topic, and fun to explore.
Personally, I'm a creationist, for a lot of reasons. But I also have to be honest and admit that, while it's not scientifically disprovable, neither is it scientifically provable.
IMO, it's inconsistent for scientists to claim to study the order around us, observing laws that make their observations consistent, and yet claim in the next breath that it all fell into place by some cosmic accident of chance. It's statistically untenable, again IMO (and I'm in good company). And there's something super exciting about seeing the order of everything from the universe to the tiniest organism from the perspective that its design was with intent. It's these types of observations, plus the lack of evidence of evolution, that have led many scientists to embrace ID over evolution.
Another area of study in this sphere involves probability. Using algebraic formulae, the ID side points out that probability is so mathematically unlikely as to be impossible. The evolutionists counter with more about probability than I am able to interact with intelligently. :)
Regardless, IMO, the principles of irreducible complexity and specified complexity, along with the challenges of probability, are pretty persuasive. The next aspect to make it particularly challenging is the very spark of life itself. It's an unprovable, unless man can one day replicate the move from basic cells to sentient existence.
Fascinating stuff. Enjoy your search. :)

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To put it in simple terms.

  1. gather data.
  2. think about it.
  3. make a wild ass guess that explains the data.(technical term is SWAG...scientific wild ass guess)
  4. Try to disprove the SWAG. All it takes is ONE piece of data to disprove it. If it does then...
  5. back to the drawing board...and start over.

Richard Feinman said...

It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is
It doesn't matter how smart you are,
If it doesn't agree with the experiment.
It's wrong.

SO....if you have data, to disprove Evolution.. the scientific community is EAGER to hear from you.

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You're right. It's tough to say whether it can be scientifically disproven or not. I am NOT part of the scientific community and don't plan on going down that path. My only point was that it's really not even a theory, technically, and there are alternative scientific claims.

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You are mistaken. It is a definite theory. No one said that there can't be more than one theory.
Theories are falsifiable...in other words they can be proven WRONG by empirical data ( from an experiment ,so far it hasn't been) but theories can never be proven Right.

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Thanks for the constructive discussion, @everittdmickey,
I get it, but would disagree that it's scientifically advanced to a theory. Like history, it seems to be one area of science where the criteria for what makes a theory are set aside. Perhaps because the study is necessarily historical in nature? Theoretical appears to be synonymous with hypthetical, in such cases. Unfortunately, both are prone to present the unproven (unprovable?) as fact.
If it was a theory, what is the testing and observation? Nobody has ever witnessed a species turn into a different species. Can it fulfill both of these? I consider these to be rhetorical questions, but perhaps you have information I'm unaware of.

-Scientific theories are well-established and highly-reliable explanations that have been verified multiple times by repeated testing and have a great deal of empirical evidence that confirm them as valid. -Scientific theories are capable of being tested by many different scientists working independently of each other.
Yeah, there are often several working theories on a given topic. Until testing is conclusive, it's not. :)
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nesting limit reached...I'm replying uphere..
a theory is a SWAG (scientific wild assed guess...some times called a hypothesis) that has NOT been shot out of the saddle yet..Theory is exactly the same as hypothetical. All , so called, theories are OLD SWAGS.

NO theory can be proved. that's not how it works. Theories can ONLY be disproved. ALL theories are on probation until they are DIS proved.

Evolution says...descent with modification. It says nothing about speciation.
That has been observed...dogs for example...or corn.

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Thank you very much.