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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Darwin Day!

Today we celebrate Darwin Day, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. 2009 is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Origin of Species', but that was published on the 24th of November (A very special day indeed!), so we'll have to wait till then for that one.

Charles Darwin was a British naturalist who developed the concept of natural selection. Basically, if you look at the way that farming works, taking the best examples of a current crop to grow an improved future crop (or heard, etc), that is artificial selection. The overall quality of the crop over time improves because the better samples are selected for by the farmer. The poor quality crops are not used to seed the new crops and therefore don't contribute to the ongoing quality of the overall yield.

Natural selection looks at artificial selection and says that what the farmer is doing in selecting for the better samples, which improves the quality of the overall crop, also happens in nature. This comes from a combination of many pressures, most notably resources and reproduction. The more able an organism is to compete for resources and the ability to reproduce, the more offspring it will have, the more it's characteristics will be passed on to subsequent generations. This also works in reverse for the unfit organisms. If they can't acquire resources or reproduce, they will die and not pass on their genetic material. The combination of these processes leads to a slow, gradual shift in populations towards more fit examples of the organism. The natural pressures have therefore selected the better examples, which have enjoyed more chances to reproduce, which increases the percentage of the population in which the successful genes are displayed.

The beauty of the theory is the incredible simplicity of it. It accounts so well for the variety of life on the planet and has been shown time and time again to be the best explanation we have.

There is a bit of an argument between some (definitely not all) religious people and the scientific consensus over the truth of the theory, but there has never been presented any evidence able to significantly dis-rail the theory and it seems that, for the most part. Those arguing against evolution are basically doing it because of the repercussions that it has for the ideas that man was created as separate from the animals, that all life was spontaneously created and that the earth is too young to allow the times needed for evolution to occur.

These are all unsubstantiated rubbish being spouted by foolish people clinging onto the memoirs of a zombie jew-king by their fingernails, wishing that they could support their beliefs. It's the theological equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going "lalalalalalalalalalalala I can't hear you!!!!"

I wish everybody out there a happy Darwin Day!

Celebrate reason!

Learn a bit about the process of evolution!

Have a wonderful day!

13 comments:

  1. The process of natural selection makes perfect sense to me, and it can be proven over time, like, as you said, with farming. I am confused by your post though because you seem to make a jump from natural selection to evolution. The process of natural selection you just described does not in any way account for new genetic material appearing. Only the selection of current genetic material so that the 'best' survives. Evolution, however, claims that new genetic material 'evolves' over long periods of time. It might be helpful to distinguish between the two. I have no prob with natural selection, just evolution, because they are different, from my understanding at least.

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  2. Stephen Novella has a great post on debunking 'flaws in evolution' http://skepticblog.org/2009/02/09/ten-major-flaws-of-evolution-a-refutation/

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  3. Thanks for that Alan. It was very interesting reading. I confess I do not agree with the idea that mutations are an increase in genetic mutations, but we could spend some time debating this, and as the author said, it does to some extent concern definitions.

    What I do know, from my agricultural background, is that the examples you gave with farming are not the same as what is being spoken about in evolution. When the best examples in a mob of sheep are kept for continued breeding, yes more sheep are of a high standard, but, the high standard does not get higher. It just does not happen. With grains, like wheat, the same can be true, but the only way to improve the wheat genetically (to make a super wheat, or a wheat that can do something it could not do before) is to genetically modify it.

    The other thing to remember is that mutations do sometimes help an animal survive in certain situations, but it is hard to imagine mutations that bring about a development that helps in most situations. So, some people have deafness because of genetic mutations. This could be very helpful if you live under a flight path, but it can also create a greater chance of being hit by a bus. I know of no examples where genetic mutation has increased a persons hearing. Happy to be proven wrong on the point though!

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  4. Dave,
    About evolution and hearing:
    for Development of physical ear Google:
    "Earliest bat shows flight developed before echolocation"
    for improved hearing ability using our brain (not really evolution) Google:
    "Human echolocation"
    Development of hearing and lower jaw might also interest you:
    http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/understanding_evolution.htm

    Regarding "the high standard does not get higher". Depends what your standard is "wool amount, size, hearing, intelligence, ability to digest meat..." and how many generations you have time to observe.

    Dave wrote:
    "I do not agree with the idea that mutations are an increase in genetic mutations"
    Did you mean genetic variation, diversity, beneficial mutations...

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  5. Hi Peter,

    The high standard I was referring to was wool, the sheep were Spanish Merinos. My mate/boss (now an old bloke himself!) took over the property from his father who took it over from his father. With a new generation every 12 months, ands very good record keeping (it was originally a government properety, so close records were kept) the wool has not improved. Yes, techniques and knowledge helped, especially in more recent years when every single fleece was microscopically examined, but this was often counteracted by genetic problems that would come back to cause problems. This would be over the period of more than a hundred generations. For example, even after a hundred generations some sheep would be born half black, and yet for a hundred generations black sheep were removed from the flock (I know, I used to eat them!).

    I am reading the info you gave me...might get back to you.

    "Dave wrote:
    "I do not agree with the idea that mutations are an increase in genetic mutations"
    Did you mean genetic variation, diversity, beneficial mutations..."

    Yep, that is what I meant! Sorry!

    DAve

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  6. Peter, I had a look at the stuff you gave the link for. It was very interesting I must confess. One of the things that struck me though is the amount of "this strongly suggests" type language. I also noticed the following statement...

    "Evolutionary theory not only explains why this phenomenon occurs, but it also predicts that the progression of fossil organisms will always be observed. If, for example, we found a fossil of a human in a Paleozoic rock layer, that by itself would invalidate evolutionary theory."

    I do not know if a fossil of a human has ever been found in Paleozoic rock, but I thought it interesting that this one discovery could undo all the "proven fact" of evolution. I also thought it interesting considering there have been numerous discoveries of fossils where they "should not be", but instead of abandoning evolution, evolutionists just keep modifying numbers by adding another few million years! I understand that you might believe in evolution, and that is cool, but I am yet to be convinced!

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  7. > One of the things that struck me though is the amount of "this strongly suggests" type language

    Yes. That's how scientists write. you're obviously unfamilar with it.

    Or you're being an idiot.

    > I do not know if a fossil of a human has ever been found in Paleozoic rock

    The answer was implied in the statement. It hasn't. Again, you're being an idiot.

    > numerous discoveries of fossils where they "should not be"

    [citation needed]

    > but I am yet to be convinced!

    Your problem, not mine. You are free to be an ignoramus in our society if that's your wish, but the information is available to you should you wish to, you know, take a look at it.

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  8. No, sometimes Scientists right "this is a proven fact", but if you only read about evolution, then you would be unfamiliar with this terminology, I guess!

    There are many examples of fossil discoveries where they should not be. The information is available to you should you wish to, you know, take a look. But, if you promise to stop calling me an idiot I will give you aq specific example!

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  9. Dave said...
    There are many examples of fossil discoveries where they should not be.

    Could you please name couple or at least one?

    Dave said...
    the wool has not improved...more than a hundred generations.

    There a limits of evolution and a speed of evolution. Insects can only grow to certain size. Maybe the gene pool you have can not evolve to better wool producers. You might need a lot more generations to improve it with traditional methods.
    For example here 20000 generation:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment
    Maybe in the future genetic manipulation can fix it. Notice how thousands of years rice selection did not produce rice equal to modern genetically modified rice.


    Where you saying that mutations don't increase genetic variations. That seems to defy logic. Please explain.

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  10. Dave:

    Learn to type, troll. Write/right.

    Also, you're a cock.

    Am now waiing for your specific example. Notice I didnt call you an idiot. Cock.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Guys! Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you, and sorry I cannot type Jason. It is a task I find difficult. Thanks for not calling me an idiot. Is there a theme with Trav the Troll and Dave the Dick? Anyways...

    I will give you some examples of fossils in unexpected places. First though, it is interesting to note that I am not claiming anything that evolutionists have not admitted. If you go to http://sci.waikato.ac.nz/evolution/fossils.shtml (a pro evolution site) you will find that they admit that this happens, and it causes a need to rethink the time line.

    Also, for you to consider...

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/human-and-dino-fossils-together reminds us that just because evidence has not been found of species being fossilised together does not mean they never lived together in the same time period. So, perhaps humans did live with dinosaurs (just saying there is no evidence that they didn’t).

    http://www.bible.ca/tracks/dino-fossils.htm provides some info on human remains found in rock layers where dinosaurs have been found. Yes, there are pro evolution sites saying this is all rubbish, but hey, there it is!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/09/2001083.htm demonstrates the need to rethink past assumptions because of remains being found where they were not expected.

    http://www.bible.ca/tracks/taylor-trail.htm gives examples of evidence of human and dinosaur co existence.

    http://www.eadshome.com/Fossils.htm mentions some examples, such as the Matterhorn Mountains where the supposed old fossils are on the top and the supposed younger ones are at the bottom.

    http://www.genesispark.com/genpark/dating/dating.htm suggests a flaw in the method used in dating fossils and rocks. It is interesting reading, as is this one http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v3i2f.htm

    Now, some examples of where fossils do not appear to be where they should be! Easy examples to give you are the fossils that we are told are very old, but are exactly the same as the living examples today, such as the horseshoe crab. The point being that 100 generations of sheep might be claimed to be too short a time, but it would appear that horseshoe crabs have remained unchanged for millions of years. Another example is the coelacanth fish. Not found in rocks less than ’70 million years old’, was suddenly discovered alive and well! Not only this, but as evolutionists were claiming it was part fish part reptile they were disappointed to discover it was simply a fish!

    The last two links I gave I found interesting because they show the circular reasoning of claiming the age of the rocks by the fossils found in them, and claiming the age of the fossils by the age of the rocks they are found in.

    Peter, “Where you saying that mutations don't increase genetic variations. That seems to defy logic. Please explain.”

    You did ask me if this was what I meant...I said yes...but it was not really! Sorry! What I meant was mutations don’t increase genetic information. I am happy to give you some examples to demonstrate this if you would like.

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  12. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha great young earth creationist links Dave!! You forgot about my personal favourite http://www.drdino.com/ and for more evidence that dinosaurs and humans happily cohabit visit http://www.dinosauradventureland.com/

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  13. Thanks for your input Rach!

    Everytime I am given a link by you guys I go away and look at it. It is always a link to something that is pro Atheist, but I always check it out and weigh it on it's merits. If I do not agree with it, then I work out how I can express that in a fair way. This is what I have done with the link Peter gave me earlier in this conversation. Perhaps I was expecting too much for you to do the same?

    You might like to look more closely as some links were pro evolution and secular.

    ReplyDelete

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