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  1. #49
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    ianmatthews,

    The question of why the rate of evolution must be equal or greater to the rate of extinction for the theory to be plausible is, it would seem to me, to be a question with a self-evident answer. I meant no offense to call it "silly", but the answer seems patently obvious to me, since were it to be otherwise, there would be no life on the planet.

    You said evolution was adaptation and natural selection ("Species survive because of successfully adaptive traits passed down. If they die, then the traits they carry may die with them, proving unsuccessful. That's all evolution is.")

    Yes, that is micro-evolution, which is disserfication and variation within a species. This certainly is a fact, and I don't know anybody who would dispute that. I certainly haven't, which is probably why you say "It seems like your argument proves evolution more than disproves it."

    However, I believe the discussion here deals with macro-evolution, which is to say, the development of a new species altogether through whatever mechanisms. While we see micro-evolution every day, no case of macro-evolution has ever been documented.

    Hence the problem with the theory regarding the rate of extinction vs. the rate of evolution.

    Species are dying all the time. But new species don't evolve all the time. There's never been a documented case of one species evolving into another. This would seem to me to be a problem with the theory.

    If that's not regarded as a problem for proponents of the theory, I don't know what would be.

    I'm not rejecting the theory outright, but if I'm supposed to accept it, it must make sense to me, and, to put it frankly, that just don't make no sense.

    Whiplash,

    Are not most of the recent extinctions related directly to our utter disregard and overuse of our natural resources?
    Yes, that might be one possible explanation for the discrepancy. I believe this is certainly true of large mammals, which were hunted to extinction. I have no doubt that not a few, but many extinctions have been due to humankind.

    However, it would seem to me that even discounting extinctions attributable to humankind the rate of extinction would still outpace the rate of evolution, which would certainly seem to be a problem.

    Again, I'm not dismissing the theory, there's just certain questions I have that seem to me to require answering.

  2. #50
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    ianmatthews,

    The question of why the rate of evolution must be equal or greater to the rate of extinction for the theory to be plausible is, it would seem to me, to be a question with a self-evident answer. I meant no offense to call it "silly", but the answer seems patently obvious to me, since were it to be otherwise, there would be no life on the planet.
    No worries, you haven't offended me at all.

    You said evolution was adaptation and natural selection ("Species survive because of successfully adaptive traits passed down. If they die, then the traits they carry may die with them, proving unsuccessful. That's all evolution is.")

    Yes, that is micro-evolution, which is disserfication and variation within a species. This certainly is a fact, and I don't know anybody who would dispute that. I certainly haven't, which is probably why you say "It seems like your argument proves evolution more than disproves it."
    I don't see how mass extinction disprove or fall out of the realm of the theory of evolution. In fact, macroevolutionary biologists have studied dozens upon dozens of "extinction level events" that fall within what you've described. Heck, we lose two to five taxonomic families of marine invertebrates and vertebrates every million years. I don't see why the level of species has to remain static in order for evolution to be fathomable.

    However, I believe the discussion here deals with macro-evolution, which is to say, the development of a new species altogether through whatever mechanisms. While we see micro-evolution every day, no case of macro-evolution has ever been documented.
    Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr's Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations, or sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organsims isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists usually use organisms' physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.

    Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits, and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William Rice of the University of New Mexico and George Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.

    Hence the problem with the theory regarding the rate of extinction vs. the rate of evolution.
    Extinction is natural selection and part of the evolutionary process. While the human race is responsible for an enormous exponential increase in extinction, we could destroy the world with nuclear weapons 100 times over and most likely some amount of species will survive to pass on surviving traits and eventually get this little blue ball rolling again in some capacity.

  3. #51
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    ianmatthews,

    I don't see why the level of species has to remain static in order for evolution to be fathomable.
    Well, that's not what I said. I simply observed that what we've seen since recorded history is massive numbers of extinctions, without any emergences of new species. I merely pointed out that this observable state of things runs counter-intuitive to the theory of evolution. For evolution to be credible considering this state of events, we must either be in a period of excessive extinction compared to evolution or there must be spurts in history of massive evolution. I can't think of any alternative explanations.

    You mentioned a study that showed that flies kept in isolation "refused" to breed with flies kept in a different environment after 35 generations. However, as you pointed out, willingness or unwillingness to breed with other populations is not indicitive in any way of varying species. The question is whether those flies were physically able to produce viable with their friends from whom they had been separated so long (what's that, likea few days for fruit flies?). This may be a viable study in behavior, but it's not evidence of evolution.

    Extinction may be "natural selection and part of the evolutionary process", but, obviously, if the rate of extinction is greater than the rate of evolution, as has been the case since recorded history, this runs counter-intuitive to the theory.

    Obviously, humans have contributed to the great numbers of extinctions since since we have been around in the archeological record. However, I don't think the present trend is solely attributable to human influence.

    You said "we could destroy the world with nuclear weapons 100 times over and most likely some amount of species will survive to pass on surviving traits and eventually get this little blue ball rolling again in some capacity".

    But that getting the ball rolling again would require having a rate of evolutin greater than the rate of extinction. I'm not saying this is not possible or plausible, simply that it's not what we observe in nature.

    However, let's assume this is a true statement.

    What are the mechanisms by which one species becomes another? I'd like to discuss the general theory and analyze the theorized mechanisms for evolution.

  4. #52
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    ianmatthews,



    Well, that's not what I said. I simply observed that what we've seen since recorded history is massive numbers of extinctions, without any emergences of new species. I merely pointed out that this observable state of things runs counter-intuitive to the theory of evolution. For evolution to be credible considering this state of events, we must either be in a period of excessive extinction compared to evolution or there must be spurts in history of massive evolution. I can't think of any alternative explanations.

    You mentioned a study that showed that flies kept in isolation "refused" to breed with flies kept in a different environment after 35 generations. However, as you pointed out, willingness or unwillingness to breed with other populations is not indicitive in any way of varying species. The question is whether those flies were physically able to produce viable with their friends from whom they had been separated so long (what's that, likea few days for fruit flies?). This may be a viable study in behavior, but it's not evidence of evolution.

    Extinction may be "natural selection and part of the evolutionary process", but, obviously, if the rate of extinction is greater than the rate of evolution, as has been the case since recorded history, this runs counter-intuitive to the theory.

    Obviously, humans have contributed to the great numbers of extinctions since since we have been around in the archeological record. However, I don't think the present trend is solely attributable to human influence.

    You said "we could destroy the world with nuclear weapons 100 times over and most likely some amount of species will survive to pass on surviving traits and eventually get this little blue ball rolling again in some capacity".

    But that getting the ball rolling again would require having a rate of evolutin greater than the rate of extinction. I'm not saying this is not possible or plausible, simply that it's not what we observe in nature.

    However, let's assume this is a true statement.

    What are the mechanisms by which one species becomes another? I'd like to discuss the general theory and analyze the theorized mechanisms for evolution.
    Recorded history isn't very long in the grand scheme of things.

    In any case, I may be approaching this discussion the wrong way. It seems like it's becoming circular. Instead, I'll ask some things that have been confusing me, for clarification:

    1. You keep mentioning that more species go extinct than are created, and this pokes holes in the theory of evolution. There seem to be some innate flaws, or at least missing pieces, to this argument.

    a) Is this a mean statistic, over all time, including several mass extinction events?

    b) Is this simply over the course of recorded history, since the onset of biology or any sort of recording of such affairs?

    c) It seems as if it should be impossible to actually calculate extinction/creation of species with any degree of accuracy. This argument seems to rely on the idea that what we record is all that could be happening.

    2. In the post nuclear holocaust scenario, you're assuming that the rate of extinction/creation of new species and the rate of natural selection would remain the same as it is now, or as it has been through recorded history. Why is this?

    The naming of a particular species should be regarded as a hypothesis about the evolutionary relationships and distinguishability of that group of organisms. As further information comes to hand, the hypothesis may be confirmed or refuted. I could be wrong in my approach on this, though.

  5. #53
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    Recorded history isn't very long, no. However, the point is that what we observe in nature is frequent extinctions, but no emergence of new species. (1a, 1b) Of course, this is counter-intuitive to the theory of evolution.

    Your mass extinction scenario is a good example for clarification of what I mean. Again, you've misstated what I actually said. (2) You said evolution would get the ball rolling again after such a mass extinction. As I observed, for that to occur, obviously, the rate of evolution would have to be greater than the rate of extinction. I simply observed that that's not what we see in nature.

    Therefore, there must be some explanation for this discrepancy if we are to regard the theory of evolution as plausible.

    It's possible we are in a period of abnormal extinctions, possibly do to humankind. However, I believe the fossil record demonstrates otherwise, that we we see with the rate of extinction today is, in fact, the norm.

    For diversity of life on Earth to have multiplied to the point it is today, the rate of evolution over time would had to have been greater than the rate of extinction. That's a no-brainer, since the opposite would lead to total extinction of life on the planet, or domination by just a small number of species who survive, but not great diversity as we observe today.

    I am not arguing that what we observe is "all that could be happening", simply making the observation that what we see in nature runs counter-intuitive to the evolution theory, and curious how proponents of the theory explain this (1c).

    Of course, there could be waves or cycles or stages where the emergence of new species outpaces the dying out of old ones, which would be necessary to account for the great diversity of life we see today. But, then, what is to explain such phenomenon? And why are we currently seeing such a phase of extinctions, while we haven't observed the emergence of any new species?

    My further question has to do with the theorized mechanisms by which one species becomes another, which I would also like to discuss after this other matter is clear.

  6. #54
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    I'm honestly confused as to how i'm misstating your argument. I'm not doing it intentionally.

    Why is it assumed the rate of extinction would stay the same as it is currently in the nuclear scenario, when the enivronment would be radically different and a hypothetical 90% of current life on Earth destroyed?

    Hrm, the more I actually read about the current rate of extinction, the more it seems like scientists agree that our current rate is far and away not the norm at all, but generally accelerated and historic in proportion.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=rate+of+extinction

    Pretty much as I suspected. The rate of extinction is the highest it has ever been, but these are recent events.
    Last edited by ianmatthews; 03-13-2006 at 12:45 PM.

  7. #55
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    Re: Gallup More Than Half Of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible.

    Again, I never assumed the rate of extinction would stay the same as it currently is in the nuclear scenario. What I said was "You said evolution would get the ball rolling again after such a mass extinction. As I observed, for that to occur, obviously, the rate of evolution would have to be greater than the rate of extinction. I simply observed that that's not what we see in nature."

    I'm simply observing that it's not what we see in nature, and for your scenario to be plausible about evolution getting the ball rolling, that would have to be the case. I'm just making an observation, not assuming anything.

    If we are in an abnormal period, that may help to explain the inconsistency. But what is normal? It seems to me even if the rate were half or quarter or a fraction of a percent of what it has been, more species are still dying out than evolving.

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