Thursday, November 15, 2007

continuing from yesterday.

4. Most evolutionary thought about the universal belief in God tends to classify such belief as either a "mistake", or as a beneficial mutation that helped to contribute to the survival of the human species by causing humans to work cooperatively or further the status of the group. If that were true, why the fight against it? Why the enormous effort to throw off a perfectly developed, successful adaptation chosen by natural selection? It seems sort of paradoxical. The concept that humans are what they are because of billions of years of adaptations, which have led to us being successful on this planet, should seem to fight against a desire to wipe out something so integral to human nature. Why resist concepts of God and fixed morality? If they have served us so well in the past, on what basis should we ignore them now? I argue this only from a wondering state of mind. I obviously think there is more to this universal predisposition, but am merely intrigued by the vehemence that is leveled at it sometimes.

5. Techskeptic commented about my earlier post that it assumes a destination for natural selection and evolution--that somehow evolution is moving towards something. Theoretically, I would concede that adaptation does not necessarily mean improvement. And yet isn't that really what has happened with humans if we evolved? Our minds are what give us the edge on this planet. We have walked on the moon; we have discovered how viruses and bacteria harm us and how to fight them; we have learned how to clone animals and human organs. I think that things have pretty much advanced to a higher state of being. Even Dawkins compares natural selection to a staircase climbing further and further up.

6. Tying in somewhat with an earlier point; why would homo sapiens be the only surviving species in the journey from primate to human. In order for humans to have changed so drastically, there have been several intermediate stages proposed by evolution. Presumably, each of those stages would have had an advantage over the previous one on their way to "humanness". Why aren't any of them still living? Why isn't there a pocket of the world somewhere where a small band of them could have survived? When adaptation occurs it doesn't mean that the unadapted portion of a group dies out. Think Galapogos islands and all those strange, different finches Darwin found. Different groups of the same kind exist even if one becomes more dominant and resilient. That's why when people say,"If we descended from apes, why are there still apes?" it shows they don't really get what evolution is saying. There would have had to be a pool of former ancestors existing for a long time during the process for homo sapiens' development. What happened to them? Why would so many stages of them be completely obliterated?

zounds..it's late....premature stopping point again

9 comments:

Amanda said...

I really wish I could voice my thoughts as clearly as you...

These are great posts.

Techskeptic said...

beneficial mutation that helped to contribute to the survival of the human species by causing humans to work cooperatively or further the status of the group. If that were true, why the fight against it?

Well this one is easy. Because it doesnt work anymore. In fact, ever since we became a global community it works against us. what is the big deal if everyone in one small community believes the same thing? Probably nothing. But how about when huge communities adamantly believe one thing and another believes something completely different. They both have texts that say they need to save or convert the other side.

I bring you: The Iraq War. The Rwandan rebellion. Isreali Conflict. etc etc...

when we developed this idea that that is the father of all fathers watching us (actually that came later, we first seemed to like animals watching us) we had small, close knit communities with single rulers.

we don't have social structures anything like that anymore. The more we believe in non-existent things the more conflict we are prone to generate.

Aside from conflict it causes suffering. When one large religious belief (i.e. beleifs not base din evidence) starts to influence the rules and laws for everyone, suffering almost always ensues. take abortion, gay marriage, alcohol, etc etc. Instead of looking at data to solve these issues, we look at a text mired in confusion and try to interpret what big bad daddy in the sky wants and apply it to all the people.

Again this is not appropriate for disussing you, or me. Its huge populations I am talking about. your religion doesnt make you suffer. but if you were in the WTC, I'm sure someone elses religion would have made you or your family suffer. The same is true all around the world with the perspective toward christianity being reversed.

Evolutionary traits that no longer work, hurt a species... as an example: I give you sickle cell anemia

Its a trait you may want to have if you live in a malaria infested area, but when you globalize, it works against you.

And yet isn't that really what has happened with humans if we evolved? Our minds are what give us the edge on this planet.

we don't have an edge. cockroaches are far more popular than is, so are most any form of bacteria. As for land animals, sure we are the most successful, but that is the case only if you choose to stop the clock right now. If you stop the clock 65 million years ago, then there were some brand of dinosaur that is "the best". and if you stop it 100 million years from now, its most likely that there will be yet another species that bests us.

Why aren't any of them still living? Why isn't there a pocket of the world somewhere where a small band of them could have survived? When adaptation occurs it doesn't mean that the unadapted portion of a group dies out.

It does if we kill them. Or if on the whole we dont find them attractive. Plus look at all those different species of bird in the galapagos. Then look at us, and try to say that we all look the same. I am very aware that we dont call ourselves different species (I guess we call it race), but the differences between us from various parts of the world are remarkable.

If evolutionary mechanisms didn't work we would all be one race regardless of isolation of various communities.

ntermediate stages proposed by evolution

not 'proposed by'...direct observable evidence for.

Why aren't any of them still living?
Becuase the later stage had further advantages over them. We killed the previous stage out right, dominated their resources, and so forth. We dont expect them to survive. the fact that they don't confirms the theory.

why isn't there a pocket of the world somewhere where a small band of them could have survived?
There were. but it is now millions of years later. Of course they survived along side the 'next' species for a short time (on an evolutionary timescale), but over a few millions of years, the advantaged species tends to win.

Why would so many stages of them be completely obliterated?
I dont understand why you think they should still be around. Its possible that there are small pockets of Australopithecus, but incredibly unlikely. The evolutionary model expects inferior species to be eliminated.

This is a pretty good vid of an evolutionary model that shows typical results of an evolutionary process.

terri said...

aarggh....I keep having to hop from comment thread to comment thread! :-)

Tech..First of all, we have no evidence that homo sapiens killed off every other type of primate. That may be an interesting explanation, but one for which we have NO proof. I would want to know...do other primate groups live in relative peace with one another? I know Chimpanzees will eat monkeys for food, but otherwise, I don't think they purposely hunt them down and kill them. As a matter of fact, I am not sure of any species which has a widespread tendency to kill other animals for pure sport or out of dislike for them. Usually, even prey and predators steer clear of each other if they are not hungry. Pessimistically, I guess you could say that is proof of homo sapiens evolution...the ability to murder and be evil.

Your supposition that somehow previous ancestors just weren't as advantaged seems to ignore my point. They would have had a definite advantage over present-day primates, yet we have plenty of those groups around. So, I would think there is more of a mystery to that. What you propose is a group of animals in which the lower levels had enough of an advantage to survive, and we, at the upper tier, have obviously survived and flourished, but everything in between was wiped out.

Gee, the middle class always gets it! :-)


Regarding race:

Superficially we may look different, but internally we are the same. We don't have different organs that function in different ways and for different purposes. The finches looked different because they had different types of beaks which served drastically different purposes.

terri said...

Amanda...thanks for the compliment.

You do a fine job expressing your thoughts!

Techskeptic said...

We definitely have evidence that we killed off "lower" species of Homo (as opposed to "every other primate", which is clearly not the case). The biggest is that they are no longer around, but we know that they were before. By killed off, I don't mean we went on a murderous spree (is it murder if its a different species?). I just mean that while we may have killed them outright with stones, most of the death came from losing a competition for food and shelter resources. Those who generally lost starved and died of exposure.

you are right, I did ignore the point you were making...actually I just missed it..it was not intetional. sorry

There are tons of animals that are still around, even though other branches of decent have come from them. Its because resources are not necessarily shared by both species, and they may have become reproductively isolated from each other. for example, horseshoe crab, cockroach, ginkgo, and coelacanth.

The fact that apes are still around is no different than the fact that the british are still around even though there are many americans.

It just means than Homo became reproductively isolated from the great apes as did gorillas. Both evolved separately. Even Bible thumpers like AiG agree


There are differences betweent he races besides skin color. Our immune systems are different. Blacks are prone to sickle cell anemia while whites are not. Its controversial but there are efforts at race specific drug treatments.

"the way that certain races process medications differently. This is important. Whites, for example, more likely to have lower levels of a particular metabolizing enzyme, that's really important for some drugs. Asians metabolize psychotherapeutic drugs legs quickly. So they stick around longer. African-Americans respond less to some antihypertensive agents and hepatitis C."

If there weren't non-cosmetic differences we wouldn't consider doing this.

a lot of your thinking can be truly answered here and here, if you are interested.

terri said...

"The fact that apes are still around is no different than the fact that the british are still around even though there are many americans."

LOL...You may not have meant this to be funny, but I found it hilarious! I kept picturing king George as a gorilla with a crown on his head! :-)

The problem with your comments about race is that the definition of race is very fluid...Especially in a country like America where very few black people are completely 100% of african descent. The more diverse a country becomes, the more mixed its lineage, the more difficult it becomes to label by race.....which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The more "watered-down" our DNA becomes, the harder it will be to say that a particular disease belongs to a race, and the more common it will be to simply say that those who carry a certain genetic marker or gene are prone to the disease.

We all came from the same source initially. Even if you don't believe in Adam and Eve, when I was reading up about this the other day, I was surprised to discover that scientists think that everyone currently alive is descended from a very small group and that the patrilineal line of Y chromosomes can be traced back to a single individual called Y-chromosomal Adam. And there is even Mitochondrial Eve...though they are separated by about 90,000 years.

That had to have been hard on the relationship! :-)

Techskeptic said...

You are of course right, that race is fluid and we are interbreeding so race distinctions are getting less relevant. My original point had nothing to do with modern 'lack of differentiation' but more pointed towards pre-globalization. I suspect if we were aliens looking at our planet we would definitely have called our various races, species.

That watered down or not, it really doesnt change any of the points I was making about our decent. I suspect you will never believe it. I know you don't think its becuase of your beleifs, I don't see why it would not be. Havent you always been religious? Why would something that directly contradicts what you grew up with be easy to accept?

Only evidence will raise the answer, there is tons and tons of evidence for evolution and literally zero evidence that counters it. The only real controversies are about how things evolved, not whether or not they did. These contraversies are discussed at a level of biological language that it looks greek to me.

The common counter arguments (Like those offered for decades by creationists) are easy to debunk with minimal work to find the data to refute them.

I truly think, that if you spend some time thinking about how long a billion years really is, knowing that in a few short weeks, we can create complex proteins out of virtually nothing, and in a few short months we can develop new strains of single celled organisms and fruit flies, and in a few short decades we can see elephant tusks get shorter (long tusks are a negative trait -for the elephant- that causes the elephant to get poached), then you may see that in a few million years, the possibilities are truly endless.

Techskeptic said...

Its not irrefutable proof... however

Take a look here
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/extr-evol-i.html

Here we can see how salamanders that get into reproductive isolation of each other change in two different successful ways, where they are almost separate species.

terri said...

Tech,
I've read your comments and have a few thoughts, but not the time to respond right now.

I might do a separate post about it.