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Reply #30: I'm sorry, I really don't want to come across as insulting [View All]

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FarrenH Donating Member (485 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-13-08 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. I'm sorry, I really don't want to come across as insulting
Edited on Sun Jul-13-08 02:03 PM by FarrenH
but this

The mechanists never did come up with a proper explanation of how order could grow out of disorder through random permutations -- or how doing significant damage to existing, well-functioning genes could lead to individuals of superior fitness. But at the time that didn't really matter. The real argument was between the those who claimed that science could explain everything and those who insisted science must break down at a certain point and fail to explain life, or consciousness, or whatever other sticking-point seemed handy.

The mechanists decisively won that argument back about 85-90 years ago -- because the 20th century was determined to throw its lot in with science, and the mechanistic view of evolution seemed to be the purest and most scientific available. But it was also narrow, limited, and dehumanizing -- which is why the creationists and IDers are still around. Mechanistic evolution just left too much out of the equation to provide a satisfactory explanation of the abundance and potential of life.

Much of the new evolutionary thought today harks back to the vitalistic ideas that got tossed in the dustbin during the 1920's. Form, for example. In everyday experience, you know that if you're going to cook, say, an apple pie, you'll do best if you have both an idea of what an apple pie should look like and taste like and also a set of detailed step-by-step instructions. However, mechanistic evolution insists that the instructions are all that's needed -- and if they're perfectly written and perfectly adhered to, the result will be an acceptable apple pie. But that sort of perfection doesn't exist anywhere in real life. It's not the way cooking works -- and it's unlikely to be the way evolution works, either.

Is simply wrong. Its a false history of science. Its basically the logic employed by creationists, whether you believe in creationism or not. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the Modern Synthesis, which does not posit that "order grew out of disorder through random permutations" and in fact quite neatly explains, instead, how very ordered (at a molecular level) species of organisms change over time into other species. In fact the modern synthesis relies on the fact that the universe is very ordered. It is because DNA molecules and cells behave in a particular, ordered manner that species evolve. There is no resurgence of "vitalism" in biology. There is no recipe. No higher guiding principle. And there are no serious evolutionary biologists who entertain such ideas.

There is a lot of misunderstanding on this thread. Some of the posts are indistinguishable from Christian or Muslim creationist drek. I recommend reading the following web sites:

Panda's thumb
Richard Dawkins' Website
The unofficial Stephen J Gould Archive

ETA: Some of the handwaving about Quantum Physics on this thread is similarly misinformed. A lot of stuff at a quantum level is mysterious because it is difficult to see how it coheres with the behaviour (of atoms and molecules) that we see at larger scales. It is because what happens at larger scales of reality (which evolutionary biology examines) is very ordered that it neatly fits into the modern synthesis. Absent some need to examine quantum effects to account for particular outcomes in, say, protein synthesis, there is no compelling reason to bring quantum physics into the discussion, just as there is no compelling need to understand quantum effects to predict that a ball will fall to the ground if dropped from a tall building.
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