Talk:Evolution/Archive 7

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Debating evolution

Honestly, folks, the purpose of this page is to discuss improvements to the article -- not to debate a dogmatic creationist. Can we focus on the article, now? Slrubenstein | Talk 18:22, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  1. We were discussing improvements to the article.
  2. I am not a dogmatist; just open-minded. Most of your ranting has consisted of rash opinion.
  3. STOP removing my comments. I don't think it's coincidence that the rebuttals which I have felt to be my most thought-out have been relocated to God knows where?
  4. This article is not NPOV. The sentence and the picture don't topple your theory. They have very little to do with your theory unless you have the intention to indoctrinate others by using slanted journalism. That is slanted journalism.
  5. Why are those two petty things so important!? IS IT WORTH ALL OF THIS?

Sincerely, Salva 16:06, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I am fed up with this nonsense. We could be writing an encyclopedia, but instead we are arguing about a very ridiculous itty-bitty error that in no way effects the happy theory of evolution. My time and yours is being wasted here. This is where we draw the line. If you want your theory to stick around, keep the opinions to yourself and stop attacking others' religions. If there is a problem with this, then the only other thing I can say is that another agenda is present other than education here, and this IS NOT the place to work towards it. Get off your high-horse about it, because we've all had enough. The sentence in the intro and the picture are going bye-bye. That is all that I want and then I am on to bigger and better things aside from the evolution article on Wikipedia! I've had a great time, though, and it was a pleasure to learn about all of you. "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

-Albert Einstein

Deepest regards, Salva 16:18, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Reciprocal relationship

In this sense, "theory" and "fact" do not stand in opposition, but rather exist in a reciprocal relationship.

I realize this sentence was probably the result of edit warring, but I'm not sure that it entirely makes sense. How is the relationship reciprocal? How does the theory affect the fact? I'm feel sure that there must be a better way of expressing the idea at hand. — Asbestos | Talk 21:39, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I am sure you are right that it can be explained more clearly. But the point is that "facts" are not just out there; what is considered a "fact" is one because of theory. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:46, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'd say that theory is the mechanism by which we describe and explain the facts. Theory doesn't change what the facts are, but it helps us to know their implications and their range. "Reciprocal" suggests that the facts are influenced by the theory, which is flatly false -- rather, theory gives us a framework in which to connect all the dots provided by observations of fact.
For instance, the action of terrestrial gravity is a simple and readily-demonstrated fact. The equations of the theory of gravity describe and explain that fact. An important development of the theory of gravity was the unification of terrestrial gravity with celestial gravity -- Newton's determination that the same force governs the falling of objects on earth and the motions of the planets.
Likewise, the action of evolution is a fact observed in experiment, taxonomy, and the fossil record; the theory of evolution describes and explains the fact. The modern synthesis, or unification of evolution with genetics, is of similar importance to Newton's synthesis: it shows that an even wider body of facts can be described in a single theory than Darwin could have imagined. --FOo 22:55, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Evolution as a fact

How about stating that in some ways, evolution is more than an extremely well supported theory. It is a fact in the sense that it be directly observed in a laboratory for bacteria or insects. Ultramarine 21:43, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Well, we need to distinguish between two meanings of "evolution." In the simplest sense that evolution means change, it is indeed a fact. But when we use the word "evolution" as shorthand for the modern synthesis, it is not a fact, it is a theory. The problem is that this approach might reenforce the commen misperception that "fact" and "theory" are opposed. The problem is not that people do not think evolution is a fact, but that people do not understand what a theory is! Slrubenstein | Talk 21:50, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Apparently you need to learn exactly what 'fact' means, Slrubstein. In the simple sense "Something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed" - Evolution - the nonrandom survival of randomly varying replicators - IS a fact.

Evolution is a fact. The mechanism by which it happens is a theory. The Rev of Bru

Err. I think he got it exactly right, and he said just what you did. He was just more careful about varying uses of the word "evolution". Graft 22:15, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

No, he said that what happens in real life; in nature - is 'just a theory.' Its not. its a fact. The means by which it happens is a theory.

Suggestion: "Although the mechanism of change, and the set of general rules which govern it, is a theory--that is, a well-supported model of how evolution works--the notion that ancestral forms evolve and give rise to new forms and new species, and that this is how the diversity of species came into existence, is an observable fact. We cannot pace out the distance from the Earth to the Sun, but we can measure it and state the fact that it is approximately 93 million miles away." Or is that too much like counterargument? Maybe strike the Earth/Sun analogy? Demi T/C 21:45, 2005 Apr 20 (UTC)

I appreciate the effort, but you misunderstand my point about the reciprocal relationship between fact and theory. If "ancestral forms evolve into new species" is a fact, it is a fact only because the theory of evolution makes it so. People seem to think facts are more real than theories, when many would argue that theories are much stronger and more important than facts, at least during the normative phase of a given science (whatshisname would say that paradign shifts occur when facts overwhelm a theory). I still think that the real battle is to explain to readers why saying that "Evolution is a robust theory" actually says a lot more than saying "evolution is a fact." The problem is not that evolution is not a "fact," the problem is that creationists really have no idea what "theory" means to a scientist. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:21, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Thomas Kuhn? Joe D (t) 22:24, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
"it is a fact only because the theory of evolution makes it so." I don't think so. A theory is an intellectual construct--an explanation. A model, as the current definition has it. Models don't make things true. In any case, I don't see why adding a fact detracts from the article or the explanation of what the "theory of evolution" is. Demi T/C 23:23, 2005 Apr 20 (UTC)

Yeah, Kuhn. Thanks! As to Demi, facts are intellectual constructs too. What do you think a fact is? Whatever humans perceive? Empiricism has an important role in science, but most philosophers of science are very wary of popular notions of what a fact is. It is a fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Those (like me and you, I presume) believe that the earch actually rotates around the sun, but people did not consider this a fact until Copernicus came up with a powerful theory. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:49, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • That's fine; as I said, I was talking about adding to, not removing from, the article. Demi T/C 02:16, 2005 Apr 21 (UTC)

Lose the fish

For the record, I think the fish should go. I never liked it, and it isn't important, extremely relevant, or worth fighting over. Plus it's more than a bit biased to put something so blatantly anti-Christian on the Evolution page. Graft 22:30, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Besides which, it's evolutionist as opposed to having anything to do with evolution ;-) Kim Bruning 22:40, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I don't see it as anti-Christian (I'm not offended, I find it hilarious) - maybe anti-people with no sense of humour. It is, of course, an aspect of the culture wars, not of the science, but the culture wars are all over this page (and the other evo- pages). Count this as a "neutral" vote, for the time being. Guettarda 22:48, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
From the point of view of reducing friction (as Temtem and Joe D pointed out), and as a sign of good faith to Salva31 (since it was prominent among his list of complaints) I think I should really change my opinion from neutral to support of Graft's proposal. Guettarda 23:24, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think it should go, it reinforces the misunderstanding of Evolution held by people like Salva, that is, that Evolution is a philosophical (and ethical etc) worldview rather than a scientific theory, and that it is the opposite of Christianity. Joe D (t) 23:03, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree. It's not anti-Christian in the sense that many Christians are not opposed to the concept of evolution, but it is meant to be a source of irritation to dispensationalists other Young Earth Creationists. In other words, it's represents the political goals of those who oppose creationists, rather than the scientific study of evolution, and isn't really appropriate. -- Temtem 23:16, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree as well. It doesn't really have anything to do with the subject. Demi T/C 23:21, 2005 Apr 20 (UTC)
I love that fish with legs. The first time I saw it--as a bumper sticker--I thought it was one of the wittiest and wisest pieces of political art--so efficient, minimalist, straight to the point. Hence, I personally agree with all the rah-rah, I won, and You're a dummy that the fish with legs means. But. My job is rather to get the creationists to deal with reality--whatever that is. And unfortunately that fish makes it easier for the creationists to avoid the reality of evolution and say--"See you are just another backslider fighting against your own conscience. You don't even have your own symbol. You have our symbol--defaced. THAT says something about your dark heart!" So this is not a vote--because, even though that symbol violates NPOV, it would be valuable for any visiting high-school student to be able to see the religious faith of the evolutionists in action. For That is reality, even if an unfortunate and unnecessary reality. ---Rednblu | Talk 23:33, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Ah yes. I change to vote with Guettarda to remove the image. 8(( ---Rednblu | Talk 23:34, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

me too. What is good for a bumper-sticker is not necessarily good for an article. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:50, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I too agree. Since the fish is a symbol of Christianity, the parody implicitly equates Christianity with creationism which is unfair to Christians generally. (But I also agree that it is funny.)
—wwoods 00:13, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
This article should link to Darwin fish, as there is a pretty clear connection. I'm not sure the image is needed here. Still, I have to wonder -- does the Darwin fish mock Christianity, or does it mock the sort of militant "bombs-and-Jesus" crowd who (these days) turn a "support the war" ribbon sideways to make a blood-defiled ichthus? No one can mock Jesus any more thoroughly than that, I fear .... --FOo 00:52, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The war is off-topic. The fish mocks Christian Young Earth Creationists. There may be overlap with this group and a "bombs-and-Jesus" group you propose, but that's besides the point. -- Temtem 01:10, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You all know where my vote stands =). Salva 02:02, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I, too, agree with its removal. It is an amusing design but not appropriate for Evolution. One, because regardless of one's belief in evolution, I think it could be offensive to modify a religious symbol for another use. And two, it tends to promote a "religion vs. science" conflict which I feel is unnecessary. — Knowledge Seeker 05:45, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The fish is extinct now, and it should stay that way. --Hob Gadling 10:30, Apr 21, 2005 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with removing the Darwin fish. It is quite relevant and removing it is censorship. It is probably the single most recognizable symbol of evolution in the US at the very least, and it is quite appropirate where it is. Evolution IS a part of popular culture, and that is the section it was under. Besides, it'd be kind of like removing the Christmas tree from the Christmas page, because it is not a Christian symbol, rather a pagan symbol the Christians "defaced". Same could in theory go for the cross (a defiled ankh). Okay, maybe not the same degree, but same idea - just because it is "offensive" to one group doesn't mean it should be removed if it is relevant, and the Darwin fish is probably the best symbol of the cultural war in the United States over the issue. Titanium Dragon 11:39, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Titanium Dragon. A number of the posts above have stated that it should be removed because it's not appropriate in an article on Evolution. But the article is not just on the science. The fish was placed in the section Social effect of evolutionary theory, where it is highly relevent. The social effects of the theory have indeed played out along religious/secular lines, among other effects, and the image is a strong symbol of that division.
... it reinforces the misunderstanding of Evolution that Evolution is a philosophical worldview rather than a scientific theory
...It doesn't really have anything to do with the subject.
...The war is off-topic.
...it tends to promote a "religion vs. science" conflict which I feel is unnecessary.
All of these views disregard the fact that the "religion vs. science conflict" is the point of the Evolution and religion section.
Asbestos | Talk 11:50, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Removing the fish is not "censorship," unless someone here is acting on behalf of a government agency without us knowing about it. We are all here trying to create the best, NPOV article possible. The suggestion that edits with which one disagrees are "censorship" is a cheap shot. -- Temtem 17:36, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think the fish is not particularly relevent. It is a symbol I have only ever seen on wikipedia. If we could find another image which is more relevent to replace it that would be good. I don't think the question as to whether this image is offensive is particularly important when deciding on whether to keep it. I do think that its relevence is and this picture seems only relevent in the US. Barnaby dawson 13:57, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think we should lose the fish. Like Barnaby dawson, I have only ever seen it on wikipedia, and I live in the United States. This is hardly a universal symbol of evolution. I would expect something more like a common image in anthropology - human's ancestors walking towards modern man. Only that doesn't fit exactly because while humans are the end product of evolution, so are all other living species. Maybe something more like beginning with a single celled organism, and then branching off into a living representative from each biological kingdom. Or just go back to darwin because he was so influential. Alternatively you could put several pictures of animals that are adapted to their environment in an interesting way (ie, that bug that looks like a stick, hummingbirds, polar bears). In any case, put me down for agree. --Ignignot 14:24, Apr 21, 2005 (UTC)
  • The arguments I'm seeing here are twofold; a couple people have claimed to have never seen it before and live in the US, which suprises me as having travelled accross the country I have seen at least one in every state I've been through. The second argument is that it is offensive to Christians. The former is a valid reason to remove it because it isn't important enough; the latter is not. Wikipedia is not about not offending people; it is about informing people in a neutral manner. The Darwin Fish being related to evolution in popular culture is NPOV; if it is important enough (and I think it is) I think it would be fine to include it. Just because someone doesn't like it doesn't mean that it should not be included. Titanium Dragon 15:38, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I think the Darwin fish should go because it's utterly unknown outside the US and seems to have become associated with the creationism/evolution ding-dongs that are exclusive to that country. I live in the UK and to us evolution is a scientific process, not an ideological banner. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 16:02, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • "Ding-dongs," eh? 8)) That is almost as funny as the fish with legs.  :)) Sure gets my funny bone. ---Rednblu | Talk 16:58, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I don't think offense is the issue; it's bias. The fish pokes fun at one particular group; there's a way to present that neutrally, but it's place is not in this article, and I don't think it's fulfilling that role here. And, more to the point, it's not important to the article. It doesn't NEED to be here; its removal doesn't take away vital information about the science of evolution or its social context. If we need an image for the "Evolution and Religion" section, we can make a number of other choices. An image of Darrow and Bryan from the Scopes trial, for example. Graft 17:02, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Sounded like a good idea to me so I found one. I reckon it can be used under fair use rules. Its may even be out of copyright as it was taken 80 years ago. Barnaby dawson 08:58, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Cool. But my name is Graft, not Grant! Graft 11:18, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Another reason for not including the Darwin fish: If the Darwin fish is relevant as an example of the "religion vs. science" conflict, then so is the creationist "Truth" fish gobbling up the Darwin fish and any of the other number of similar symbols out there. It reduces the quality of the article to get into the war of symbols here, rather than keep the focus of the article on the larger issues. -- Temtem 18:06, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The Darwin fish is not a universal or even widely-recognized symbol of evolution, any more than the hideous American Atheists logo is a universal or widely-recognized symbol of atheism. The fish is a parody, a joke -- albeit a pointed joke about a serious issue. It does not mean that the fish-displayer worships Darwin, or hates Christianity, or is a "secular humanist" or what-have-you.

Illustrating the Darwin fish in this article is not "bias" or an NPOV problem, either. It simply is not directly relevant to this article, which is about evolution itself -- not the jokes and religious arguments that people have peripherally connected to evolution. There's already a perfectly good article entitled Darwin fish. For that matter, it would seem to make sense to present the fish on our article Creation-evolution controversy, since it does represent a (jocular) position in the discourse of evolution and religion.

But for heck's sake, don't take the fish too seriously. It isn't a flag; it isn't a swastika; it isn't a cross (an implement of capital punishment -- if Jesus had lived in the 20th century, Christians might display an electric chair). It's a joke. --FOo 22:36, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Allele frequency "between generations" vs. "over time"

It seems to me that evolution is not a "change in the frequency of alleles in a population from one generation to the next" (emphasis mine) but rather over time. Whether we define the time in generations or with conventional time (days/years) depends on the particular use of the concept and so from one generation to the next may be too specific. Are there any biologists out there who can comment? Zensufi 03:30, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree. There need not be well-defined generations. However, maybe the intent was to make it clear that the process involved turnover of individuals (or a least production of new ones). Josh Cherry 03:49, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The dinstinction of moving across generations (there is no "between" generations) is based on the idea that individuals do not pass on acquired traits a la Lamarckian evolution. That is, alleles do not change in an individual throughout its life, therefore evolution must occur in the difference between an individual and its offspring. "Over time" might be seen as misleading in this light, whereas "across generations" or "from one generation to the next" are more specific on this point. siafu 04:22, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I see. The issue though is that the frequency of alleles changes much more frequently than the time it takes for the species to move from one generation to the next. Is there a way to rephrase the clause so that it will not mislead in either of the ways we have mentioned? Zensufi 19:50, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You want to be careful about the use of 'species' here. The definition talks about 'populations' meaning those individuals that do inter-breed, not those that might. In a population the allele frequencies do indeed change at every death and birth (whether plant or animal), but this is still driven by generational change. Without the birth of new individuals you do have evolution occuring, but it is also extinction of the population KayEss | talk 05:02, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think population geneticists would describe the process as "from one generation to the next". Joe D (t) 20:04, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think it's a reasonable shorthand. Obviously "generation" is not a discrete unit - everyone doesn't spawn at once (except for cicadas) - but still, I think "generations" does a good job of conveying the inheritance aspect of evolution, which "over time" would not. Graft 20:36, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • "allele frequency within the population over time"? --JimWae 21:09, 2005 Apr 22 (UTC)

Evolution occurs between generations, not over time. Bacteria evolve more quickly than elephants, not because they are somehow more prone to evolove, but because they differ in generation times. Guettarda 21:13, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)


If any of you guys actually think you're swaying each other the way you want them to, then neither of you are as smart as I thought. All of your arguments are amazingly cool and informational, but they are all different. Realize that all of you are being one sided in your own way...so you technically have more in common than you think. Evolution and creation both speak of how life came to be so why are we fighting? Unless one day somebody can actually PROVE anything to be 100% true or quit turning to a book that the Jews wrote, then we should respect the many ways people view this topic. Taylor, April 28 2005

Huh? What book by Jews? Does it matter whether or not Darwin, Mayr, Dobzhansky, or Mendel were Jews or not? Guattarda, Steinsky, Variable, and others I am sure are correct. "change in the frequency of alleles in a population from one generation to the next" is the standard definition. "A change in the genetic structure of a population" is also a reasonable definition, but I prefer the one we have myself. When people say "over time" they must mean "over the course of many generations" but the key is the difference from one generation to the next. I have no idea what Taylor is trying to say, this is pretty clear-cut. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:59, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think he means the Torah, which is the basis for Biblical creationism. Graft 02:08, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, or more specifically, Genesis. -- Temtem 02:17, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
Taylor, I am not certain what you are referring to, but it seems that this debate was actually resolved quite nicely. I know I was convinced. I think we all agreed that "between generations" was better than "over time". — Knowledge Seeker 04:55, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Most definitely. I have no idea what Taylor is talking about either, but as the one person on the other side of the above debate, I'll second that the debate was resolved nicely. I objected to a specific wording, and then people explained to me why that one was used and not mine. Although the wording I objected to may not be perfect, they demonstrated why it's a hell of a lot better than mine. This has nothing at all to do with creation vs. evolution or the bible. Zensufi 15:40, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
While we should respect each other I disagree that we have to respect each other's opinions. This is a scientific topic, there is a best current model, and it should dominate all discussion, with evidence for and against it. Just because some hypothetical person thinks that all organisms are brought by storks when their parents love each other does not mean we have to include it in the article. Too many people have been brought up to think that all opinions are valid. It just isn't true. --Ignignot 13:21, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)

Archive

Why is an active discussion being archived?

It was getting pretty silly. I thought it was pretty much "done". Revert if you like. Graft 17:19, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Barnaby dawson 21:51, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. However, the intention is not silly, and that is to give our readers a clear idea of what they are reading. Evolutionists have walked a very fine threshold in the past, and they still do it today. I do see your point now that you have ellaborated, buuuut -- well, approximate is a better word. Thank you for your patience and cooperation. =) Salva 19:47, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Could you just stop arguing? I mean face it, neither of you are going to prove the other wrong, no matter how much evidence either of you have to back up your theory. Its pointless arguing about your two different and strong opinions when you already know that neither of you will sway the other over to your own. Yes, both of your views are amazing and well supported, but your both wasting your time arguing. It has been very helpful in reading your views, thank you. I wish to withhold my name.

I just archived. The reason to archive is that the talk page gets too long. Nothing is deleted, and anyone can consult the archives easily. A personal observation: talk pages are for discussing changes to the article. There was an awful lot of discussion for relatively few changes to the article. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:08, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"Darwinian" natural selection and "Darwinian" evolution

I am unhappy with these recent changes by User:Andriesb [1].

  1. If you don't want to call Darwin the father of "evolutionary theory" (which is reasonable) I think you should call him the father of "modern evolutionary theory" or "the modern synthesis". Calling him the father of "Darwinian evolutionary theory" is too narrow and gives a false impression of the scope.
  2. "Darwinian Natural Selectin" suggests that there are several competing theories of natural selection. This is misleading.
  3. I don't understand this insertion at the end of the second paragraph: The second use of the word evolution assumes there are no alternatives to Natural Selection as the principal mechanism causing evolution.

Guettarda 16:59, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'll agree with that. -- Temtem 17:21, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
  1. I get your point and will reverse the change
  2. Did you read "Darwinian Natural Selection? I wrote: "In Darwinism, Natural Selection is the principal etc.
  3. Evolution should not be confused with the theory (of the mechanism) of natural selection. The Darwinian theory of the mechanism by which evolution supposedly takes place has to many become a dogma. Evolution is in my eyes no longer a theory because the fossil records are just too overwhelming. How exactly the genome changes to better adapt a species to a new environment however could be explained differently than only by natural selection. That's why I added the extra sentence to make that more explicit. Andriesb 19:09, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
What do you mean by "the fossil records are just too overwhelming?" -- Temtem 20:05, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
I mean too many fossils from too many geological periods have been found to rationally deny that evolution took place. Evolution is a fact but what drives it is still a theory.Andriesb 17:54, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It is erroneous to refer to Darwin as the father of modern evolutionary theory, or particularly of the modern synthesis. Moreover, such reference suggests ignorance of what "the modern synthesis" means: namely, the 20th-century synthesis of two separate strains of work in biology: on the one hand, Darwin's theory (evolution by natural selection); and on the other, Mendel's theory (genetics).

Darwin theorized natural selection, sexual selection, and common descent. He did not know anything about genes, and had no concept of genes as the unit of selection or variation. To describe Darwin as having anything directly to do with the modern synthesis is like calling Isaac Newton the father of quantum gravity. :)

Textbooks, and popular histories of scientific fields, have a tendency to exaggerate the role of famous figures of the past, and to treat their work as if it led directly or effortlessly towards the theories and knowledge common today. (See Thomas Kuhn.) One result of this is that we use terms based on those figures' names -- like "Darwinism" -- to refer to ideas that go far beyond those figures' actual knowledge. --FOo 20:44, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Darwin is still the father of modern evolutionary thought. "Modern" to separate it from pre-Darwinian (like Lamarck and Erasmus Darwin). It crossed my mind as I wrote it that saying "father of the modern synthesis" was perhaps a bit of a stretch - direct lineal antecedent, yes...though people like Fisher, Haldane, Wright, etc., are generally refered to as "architects", not "fathers". "Grandfather of the modern synthesis"?
While what you say is true about the inflated role of "founders" of movements, Darwin is in a class with few others. His insight was pretty amazing - and even though he had inheritance wrong, even there he had some good insights. While Wallace deserves equal billing on the basic theory, Darwin had a lot more depth (and didn't kill whole families of orangutans just to measure them). On the other hand, I would never diminish the role of Fisher, Wright, Haldane and all these other amazing people who actually built evolution into a science. Guettarda 21:14, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Darwin is an accessible figure to the public (like Stephen Jay Gould), and his was definitely a seminal work and remains astute to this day. But I'm always astounded at what R.A. Fisher contributed to the study of evolution and to science in general. He's more on par with Euler, in my book. Graft 15:26, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

what is going on here?

The second paragraph deals with Darwin's theory. Someone deleted "Darwin" from the sentence stating that we are all descended from a common ancester, when in fact this is a claim made by Darwin. Then, someone identified the theory of speciation through natural selection with "Darwinism." What the hell is Darwinism? We are talking about theories of evolution, let's stick to that. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:27, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Re JeremyA's comment on my talk page, well, thanks. I have no objection to the way you phrase it on my talk page — it is "Darwinism" that I really can't stand. But can you tell me (or just add to the article) who before Darwin claimed descent from a common ancestor? Working within natural science? We aren't talking about Lucretious are we? I have heard philosophers of science argue how Darwin's theory requires common descent. If it was just one of many ideas kicking around before Darwin, I think we should credit Darwin. Or was Darwin himself explicitly drawing on earlier work? If so, we should cite that earlier work. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:14, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
This second paragraph is terrible. Who added it and why? Though Darwin predicted common descent and evolution implies it, it is not actually a part of the theory necessarily, and the processes involved are quite seperate from it. This article is about the modern synthesis; I think the current wording is poor at best. Titanium Dragon 10:22, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, I edited the second paragraph, and moved it down. Apparently I never really noticed it. It was poorly worded and the last part of it was downright false. Natural selection is a mechanism of evolution, and the word is usually used to apply to all of those. Titanium Dragon 10:31, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Common descent may (as JeremyA argues) predate C. Darwin, but it is also an important element of Darwinian theory. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:54, 1 May 2005 (UTC)


Umm... I know this is quite off topic, but I was wondering if any of you could tell me anything about vestigial organs. I know some of them that we as humans contain, but no proof of their function. I have no idea whether I should believe the Creation side of it or the evolutionist side. Your views and maybe some sites would be helpful, thanks. Benjy 05/10/05

Hi, Benjy, thanks for your comment. Wikipedia is really not a place to discuss or debate viewpoints like this, but you may find the Vestigial organ and Creation-evolution controversy articles enlightening. Personally, I am a scientist (in the sense of someone who embraces science as an explanation for how the world works), so naturally I accept the scientific account of the history of this planet, just as I do the mechanics of our solar system or the wavefunction of an electron. However, supernatural phenomena are beyond the scope of science, and there are many people who hold religious historical views which conflict with scientific views. To clarify about vestigial organs: in general, they are organs that in one species are well-developed or useful, but in another, the analogous organ appears to have dgenerated or lost most or all of its functions, perhaps while picking up newer ones. It is not limited to humans; many dolphins and whales (which are mammals) have vestigial hind "leg" bones, which we believe to be remnants from their land mammal ancestors. Those who do not that dolphins evolved from land mammals have alternate explanations, such as that those bones are not related to land mammals' leg bones and that they are intended to serve their current purpose (perhaps anchoring reproductive organs) or that we cannot always comprehend God's plan: just because we cannot find a good use for them doesn't mean they have no use. It is up to you to decide your own beliefs; all we can do here is provide information on both sides. — Knowledge Seeker 18:50, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Thanks so much...I've really found this discussion space extremely interesting; I didn't realize how many people cared so much for the topic of evolution and creation. Not to mention...everyone seems so intelligent and knows what they are speaking of. Thanks again! Benjy 05/10/05

As an analogous phenomenon, you might want to read about pseudogenes. Graft 21:22, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Moved statement for discussion

I moved the following untrue statement here for improvement or rejection if it cannot be improved.

In the west, the United States of America is the only country where creationist ideas are given serious consideration.

It would be nearer true if it were written

In the west, the United States of America is the only country where young earth creationist ideas are given serious consideration.

but I still don't like it. As it was, it ignores the fact that there is a range of creationist thought from young earth to evolutionary creationism. Pollinator 23:24, May 12, 2005 (UTC)

I also don't think it is very specific. "Given serious consideration" by whom? I think what it means is that it is the only country in which there is a recurrent public debate over it. --Fastfission 02:13, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, by the general populace, maybe, or more accurately, it's treated with some validity by the government and media (which is something of a empirical sidestep for "public mindset"). Either way, it's a very nebulous claim, and though it seems obvious to myself (as an American) that creationism holds a good amount of sway, I'm not sure how to state it in a substantiable manner. siafu 02:38, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
I know of people in Australia snd New Zealand who give serious consideration to Creationism. RossNixon 10:55, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
Suggestions:
  • "The US is the only western country where YEC is a mainstream/common philosophy" or
  • "amongst western countries the issue of creationism is only significant in the US" ?
Joe D (t) 13:59, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Aren't what we really getting at is "Only in the U.S. would state and local education authorities contemplate incorporating creationism into science curriculum?" How do we say that? Demi T/C 14:37, 2005 May 13 (UTC)

Um. ID is making considerable headway in Turkey, for example. Graft 16:08, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Let's first try getting rid of the "only" -- I find it very unlikely that such blanket statements could be completely true unless we constrain it to a very limited and artificial category ("Industrial nations West of the Atlantic Ocean and East of the Pacific Ocean and North of the equator"). If all we are trying to say is, "In the United States, there has been since the 1920s an on-going controversy over whether or not Evolution should be taught in schools at all, or whether it should be taught alongside some form of Creationism," why don't we just say it? We don't have to create some artificial form of exceptionalism; the US is a notable-enough country (at least on an English wiki) for special mention if its experience is significant (and I think it is). --Fastfission 20:33, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Evolution versus natural selection

I'm graduate trained in biology, and I always have considered the "fact" of evolution distinct from the "theory" of natural selection, which I obviously think does the best job of explaining evolution. I learned this distinction from Stephen Jay Gould.

According to this way of thinking, evolution is that phenomenon of change in the phenotypic characteristics (and, we now know, genotypic characteristics) of species that Darwin originally described from the fossil record.

By contrast, natural selection is a particular, and still evolving body of explanation that biologists and others have developed for explaining that change.

Our understandings of both evolution and natural selection tend to develop in close parallel with one another, almost on a daily basis I'm happy to say, but in my mind they are still distinct.

To understand the point, consider Darwin's (or Gould's) own contributions to thinking about the possibility of "SEXUAL selection" playing a role in evolution, separate and distinct from the role of natural selection. I'm not suggesting that sexual selection is or isn't real; just trying to show how evolution and natural selection are different animals from one another.

I think the distinction would be worth making in this article.

Pspeck 06:46, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Ronald Fisher's 1930 book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection starts with the words "Natural Selection is not Evolution". Fisher recognised that people are often confused between the two. The distinction is made in the article, which lists natural selection as a major cause of evolution, amongst others, and at natural selection, though you are free to try to improve the wording.
You should also be aware that sexual selection is a form of natural selection, as is ecological selection, though "natural selection" is often used as a shorthand for ecological selection, sexual selection is no less natural. Dunc| 14:30, 14 May 2005 (UTC)
Darwin certainly did not consider sexual selection a form of natural selectio (he considered them both distinct forms of selection; it was Wallace who insisted that sexual selection was just part of natural selection, which Darwin vehemently objected to), but anyway that's neither here nor there (the "natural" for Darwin meant that "nature" did the selecting, whereas the "sexual" meant that this was just a question of differential birth rates, not death). Darwin considered sexual selection a major mechanism in and of itself, one which explained various things which he didn't think could be explained by natural selection at all (things which would seem non-adaptive in the struggle for existence), but despite his writing a tome on it around twice as long as he did on natural selection, it never really had the same effect on his readers. But anyway, to the point: I think the article makes fairly clear that evolution is the phenomena and natural selection is just one of the proposed mechanisms (albeit the one that is thought to be most dominant/interesting). But if we want to differentiate that a bit more, or state it along Gould's lines of fact/theory (which is somewhat elegant when he says it but is rather philosophically unsound, the idea of untheorized "facts"), that could be done. --Fastfission 18:36, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

announcing policy proposal

This is just to inform people that I want Wikipedia to accept a general policy that BC and AD represent a Christian Point of View and should be used only when they are appropriate, that is, in the context of expressing or providing an account of a Christian point of view. In other contexts, I argue that they violate our NPOV policy and we should use BCE and CE instead.

I know that this is not related to evolution. But I do think scientists might have valuable opinions. See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/BCE-CE Debate for the detailed proposal. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:55, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

Suggestion for this talk page

I have noticed (and I'm sure others will have too) that there is a large amount of discussion on this page related to issues surrounding creationist beliefs. I suggest we create a talk subpage exclusively for debates of this kind. Discussions surrounding these issues can occur there and all other matters can be dealt with on the main talk page. This should help those who wish to advance the article without having to wade through long discussions on creationist matters to do so. But it would allow debate to continue concernings those issues. I suggest we create a subpage talk:Evolution\Creationist related issues and we put a header up saying:

This article is about Evolution not about creationism.
Those wishing to discuss issues concerning the article that 
are related to creationism should use this talk subpage.

Opinions. Perhaps a better name for such a subpage? Barnaby dawson 15:32, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I don't want to throw cold water on the suggestion, because I think it has merit. But I think it may be unlikely to work well in practice. Just as Talk:Creationism is prone to having talk about the article itself spin off into extensive discussion about scientific challenges to creationism, I think this talk page is going to remain a magnet for debate, regardless of the existence of a subpage where that debate would more properly take place. For myself, I think I'd view the isolation of the debate to (only) this talk page, rather than having it spill onto the article page itself, as a relative victory. John Callender 17:23, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Fact Vs Theory

The problem with these terms is that they mean completely different things in general english as opposed to science. When creationists play on this word they seek to confuse the ignorant.

In science, 'Theory' is as good as it gets. There is no such thing as a scientific fact. Fact is not a word that exists in the scientific vocabulary. In general english the word 'theory' means, an unsubstantiated claim or, an idea yet to be proven. More closely related to the scientific word 'Hypothesis'.

The theory of evolution by natural selection is as solid as the theory of gravitation and the germ theory of disease. To translate this to general english from science speak it is ok to say 'Evolution by natural selection IS A FACT'.

The scientific word 'Theory' is no different to the general english word 'Fact'.

This is already explained in the article. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:10, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Well this is a bit different to the usual creationist rants. Anyway,Evolution is a Fact and a Theory as you can read at the talk.origins archive which is one of the external links. Dunc| 16:55, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I added a small example (which is probably taken from a Stephen J. Gould I read many years ago, "Evolution as fact and theory"), i.e. "apple falls to earth = fact; it does so because the earth warps spacetime = theory". To say they are "reciprocal", while true, is not clear by itself, I don't think. --Fastfission 17:10, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

In reply to Slrubenstien - The just-a-theory discussion *used* to be in the article (I'm the one who added it) but someone has since removed by explination. →Raul654 17:14, Jun 3, 2005 (UTC)

From "Scientific Theory" section:
The modern synthesis, like its Mendelian and Darwinian antecedents, is a scientific theory. In plain English, people use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion". In contrast, a scientific theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) from which falsifiable hypotheses can be generated and be verified through empirical observation. In this sense, "theory" and "fact" do not stand in opposition, but rather exist in a reciprocal relationship — for example, it is a "fact" that an apple dropped on earth will fall towards the center of the planet in a straight line, and the "theory" which explains it is the current theory of gravitation. Currently, the modern synthesis is the most powerful theory explaining variation and speciation, and within the science of biology, it has completely replaced other explanations for the origin of species, including creationism and Lamarckism.
It's still there, just moved. Graft 17:35, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • "One of the criticisms levelled against evolution is that it is “only a theory”. This criticism is disingenuous for two reasons. First, the word “theory” has a specific meaning within a scientific context and it means an idea which has enough evidence to support it such that rejection would require not just philosophical arguments but disconfirming evidence. Second, it is a strawman argument. Science is always a work in progress. The fact that the theory of evolution cannot provide absolute answers to all questions about the origins of life does not invalidate the theory any more than the fact that research has not yet uncovered a cure for cancer invalidates medicine or the fact that oil companies drill dry holes invalidates geology. The world-wide scientific community exists just because there are unanswered questions. That is what science is and is for. Science does not have a book which states absolute truths - if it did it would be religion, not science."
    • "All science expects of a theory is that it be testable, falsifiable and corrigible. The theory of evolution is all three. Creationism is none of the three. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. The evidence for special creation is non-existent."

literal vs. interpretation

I made some changes to one of the paragraphs concerning religion and evolution. First, I got rid of the absurd statement "literal interpretation" (what makes a literal reading literal is that it claims that there is no need for interpretation and no interpretive work being done). In fact, many if not most religions reject literal readings of the Bible. I added something like "Some groups, especially Christian fundamentalists" because it is both more precise and accurate. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:25, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

No, it's less accurate. First, there are several varieties of creationists. And second, there are many more involved than Christian fundamentalists. Evangelicals (including many within mainline churches), Pentecostals, and Fundamentalists all tend toward young earth creationism. That said, there are some evangelicals that subscribe to old earth creationism and evolutionary creationism. So why are you so anxious to pigeonhole?
Another thing needed to keep in mind, is that the defintion of Fundamentalist has drifted toward a pejorative meaning (Is that why you want to use the term?)
In discussing Christian fundamentalists, NPOV can only occur when the pejorative overlay is not present. The Associated Press stylebook has a good way of dealing with this (though not all reporters follow it) - that is to only use the term "fundamentalist" with those who call themselves by that term. Pollinator 22:46, Jun 5, 2005 (UTC)

The passage already specified a "literal reading," and I used the word "fundamentalist" because this is the technical (in the social sciences, comparative religion) definition of a fundamentalist. That is, I was using fundamentalist to label those who read literally, not all creationists. I think I was even clear that others besides fundamentalists are creationists. I don't think fundamentalism is a pejorative -- do fundamentalists really eschew the term? Slrubenstein | Talk 12:34, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)