Talk:Evolution/Archive 8

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This archive page covers approximately the dates between May and September 2005.

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Evolution vs Theory of Evolution

Excellent article. I looked it up after reading a newspaper article about the Design Intelligence vs Evolution argument in Kansas. One thing I do not understand and did not find in the article is how scientists distinguish between the fact of evolution and the mechanism of evolution. I thought evolution was the fact and the mechanism of evolution was the theory. Apparently I am wrong. Your article states that the theory contains both.

If the Theory of Evolution contains elements that are open to dispute, doesn't that mean the Theory of Evolution is open to dispute. So, what I do not understand is why one part is not stated as fact and the other part not stated seperately as theory.

I know - I don't understand what a scientific theory is. :)

But I do know that this is a problem for a lay person trying to understand. -someone

hey I think part of the confusion your having revovles around the idea of what exactly is a fact. I think most people would agree that it is impossible to prove most anything is 100% true. but there comes a point when the chances of something not being true becomes so small that you might as well just consider it true. just about every single "law" of science is a a theory whether its gravity or what not, and in many cases it was later found out that those laws were wrong but not by much. a big issue that most scienctist have with Creationism is that it doesn't offer a better explanation of what is believed to have happened. if anyone else feels like adding anything go for it.--Stranger 09:03, 2005 Jun 12 (UTC)

If one is speaking of evolution as simply the change in genetic materials in a population over time, then it--as the first poster indicates--IS a fact. Many (if not most or an overwhelming majority--i'm not sure about numbers) scientists maintain this. Stephen Jay Gould, for instance, has written an excellent essay about this: "Evolution as Fact and Theory" that I would recommend (several other scientists have written similarly titled essays). The theory (or rather theories) is the mechanism(s) by which this change occurs. I would recommend altering the article slightly so as to recognize this. I would do it, but I'm new, and don't know the proper etiquette/procedures and don't want to mess anything up--especially given its featured article status.--MS 6/26/05

The argument given by Stranger is that very likely things are treated as true for most purposes, even though nothing can be proved to be 100% certain. If this is accepted, then 'the change in genetic materials in a population over time' can only be a fact based on this premise. It seems to me that this is fundamental to scientific understanding. - Wgsimon 03:54, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
I find the article somewhat misleading. Gravitational attraction is not a theory, it is an Universal Law, uncovered by humans. It is always true in our universe (and seemingly part of its structured Order), if we agree that the universe is everything that can be observed through sensorial experience, or the extension of it. There are several other Universal Laws uncovered. Sometimes their application in predicting future phenomena may be very slightly off due to the non-accounting of other interfering conditions or non-discovered laws. Once empirically proven in its entirety, the theory becomes law and nothing will ever invalidate it (as Relativity does not invalidate Newton's gravitational attraction, it just amends it for speeds close to "c") but perhaps reduce it (just as the 4 forces may someday become 1 etc.). The Theory of Evolution is not entirely proven and I'm not sure it ever will possibly be. It remains a theory.--Lucian 05:09, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Gravitational attraction is not a theory, it is an Universal Law, uncovered by humans. - When you make statements like that, you invite people to prove you wrong. Graviation is a theory, and an incomplete one at that. The speed of propagation of gravity is unknown (thought to be C but it's a phenomenon that is incredibilty difficult to test), and there are some who theorize there might be a gravitational equivalent to magnetism (that is, they theorize that moving mass creates some kind of gravitational field). Nor does there exist a model for quantum gravity. →Raul654 05:13, September 9, 2005 (UTC)
Agree with Raul. The theory of gravity is the best model we have, based on observations. It's had to be modified more than once. We observe that massive objects attract one another, and we develop plausible, testable models which are modified over time. The model we have for gravity has been very successful in explaining the observations, although in some scenarios it was slightly off (for example, Mercury's orbit). Einstein's revision of the theory made it even more successful, but there's still a lot we don't know, like the speed of propagation as Raul mentions, or the details of how gravity actually arises. Similarly, there is little doubt that in the history of Earth, the appearance of life forms progressed from very simple unicellular organisms to the complex organisms of today. The model we have to explain this is genetic variation and natural selection and so on. It too has been extraordinarly successful in explaining the observed variation and trends; and the model has been tweaked over time as new observations are made. — Knowledge Seeker 05:31, September 9, 2005 (UTC)
What a beautifully clear-headed statement. All what Seeker said.—encephalonέγκέφαλος  06:22:16, 2005-09-09 (UTC)
I think you are referring to formulae and not laws, not that I would want to 'prove you wrong'. I was referring to the Gravitational attraction as a Law that is part of the order of our Universe (what we can experience). As a fact, a stone will always fall back to Earth or to the Moon surface. Same with electromagnetism etc. Meanwhile, I don't think that we have a law of evolution yet, the very origin of Life is based on an assumption. It seems indeed theoretically possible (whatever the probability) to have a specific set of Forces acting upon a specific combination of Matter so that to get some Matter organized in a such a key new form (macro-molecule) which will thereafter acquire and reproduce more Matter "by itself" in identical copies. Have we been able to verify this as a fact though?--Lucian 05:51, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Lucian, you bring up a good point, and I appreciate your open-mindedness. The stone falling is a great example. It is easily observed that any object dropped from a short distance above the earth will fall back towards the earth. If you hold it in your hand, you can feel the pull of it back to the earth, and you can feel the earth's pull on you. But do we really know that gravity is keeping the Earth in orbit around the Sun? How do we know that there is any gravity at all between the Earth and Sun? It is true that our current theories of gravity scale nicely and provide a plausible, simple model for the effects of the Sun's gravity. But what if I say that it seems very improbable that the Sun could exert such a strong force on something so far away? Maybe I say that it is ridiculous; how can it pull on us with gravity when there is nothing connecting us? What's causing the pull? Hypothetical gravitons? No, the Earth moves in circle because God causes it to move in a circle, as the circle is the perfect path (forget that it's actually an ellipse). Can you prove me wrong? No, because my belief is based on faith. Your reply could be, "It may be that gravity doesn't extend that far and that God is directly causing the Earth to circle the Sun, although there is no evidence for that. And we do have a nice, simple model of gravitation that explains the observed motions nicely, so I think I'll stick to my theory of gravitation." Similarly, it is easily observed that organisms do evolve: the classic case is the peppered moth, but it is even easier to see with organisms with very short generation times, such as bacteria. No one can deny this. However, most creationists object to the larger theory of evolution, while accepting microevolution (which a cynic might define as "the amount of evolution that can be observed directly by humans and which therefore cannot be denied"). People are free to believe evolution or whatever explanation they like; they may wish to believe that God individually created all species of life. But as with gravitation, we have developed a simple, plausible explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, one supported by evidence. One may believe what one wishes, but from a scientific point of view, there is no controversy, no doubt. — Knowledge Seeker 23:31, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
KS (apologies for the late reply and thanks for the note), generally speaking a belief is a thought with a higher chance of being true than untrue and one cannot believe what one wishes. That is, again, if we take sensorial experience to be our Truth and the universe to be governed by Causality (i.e. our Rationality) which, for the purpose of this discussion, I assume you do. However possible it may be for the pull of the sun upon earth to be derived from an original phenomenon that we could call god, that does not change the phenomenon of gravitational attraction applicable throughout our universe as a sensorially observed, true fact. And we gave this phenomenon a name: gravity. I happen to be part of the vast majority that believes in evolution, that is to think it is probably true. I also think that the part of the theory of evolution stating the tendency of species towards a higher natural fitness is sufficiently observed (microevolution included) to call it true. I am just not sure one can call true that part of the theory dealing with the single common ancestor and touching upon the origin of life. I do believe in it (per my earlier post) but I cannot call it true. I would be happy if you could prove it otherwise. Firstly and evidently, we have not experienced the life formation on our planet and, so far, in any other parts of our universe. Secondly, there seems to be sufficient controversy about the experiments trying to re-create the conditions at the presumed first time when matter got organized into "living" matter on earth, so that to prevent us from calling that a fact. That, from the little I've sensed (read) I do take as true. --Lucian 06:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Scientific facts are non-existent in the sense that all scientific theories are contingent and falsifiable, there are, however, facts within science. "And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data (Gould 1981, p. 254).” “Theories are nets cast to catch what we call ‘the world’: to rationalize, to explain, and to master it (Popper 1959, p. 59).” Evolutionary tales inspire the imaginations that pursue and reconstruct the history of life, but science evolves explanations into objective knowledge, that is empirical refutations of theory in the hypothetico-deductive approach (Schuh 2000). Few people contemplate or know what justification they use to accept concepts as either fact of fiction. Scientists, however, devise crafty ways to falsify or provide auxiliary explanations for observed facts, axioms, and regularities in the world (Popper 1959). For example, evolution is a regularity of life and the theory of natural selection is the prevailing explanation. The theory of natural selection is corroborated and survived over a centuries worth of refutation attempts by the most brilliant people of our time, including Charles Darwin!



Does this article need the NPOV dispute flag or not? I can't tell, to many reversions back and forth >.<--Tznkai 18:13, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

No. NPOV 01:05 9 June 2005 by without explanation on talk page [1], who then reverted 2 minutes later. Dunc| 19:03, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Darwin - father of "modern" evolutionary theory

I've changed the caption on the image of Darwin to suggest that he's the father of evolutionary theory, and not "modern" evolutionary theory. Would everyone agree with this? He's not the father of "modern" evolutionary theory, which has changed quite a lot since his first publication. Nevertheless, if there are other theories of evolution which we consider pre-modern (or pre-Darwin), then perhaps Darwin could be considered father of the modern version. 14:27, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)

See the discussion higher up this page. Guettarda 15:08, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It's sort of a hard question, though. "Modern" evolutionary theory sounds a lot like the "modern synthesis", which is not what Darwin was about. Darwin was not the founder of "evolutionary theory" in general though, which goes back before Darwin. Saying he was the father of "Darwinian evolutionary theory, on which all modern evolutionary theory is based" is redundant and unwieldy and skips the point. So I just changed the caption in question to say that he was the the founder of the theory of natural selection, which is true enough. --Fastfission 18:55, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The "modern synthesis" is a synthesis of Darwin's theory of evolution, and Mendel's theory of genetics. So it would be accurate to say "Darwin is the founder of modern evolutionary theory," "Mendel is the father of modern genetics," and "Darwin and Mendel are the two fathers of the Modern Synthesis." Please remember that this is a metaphor, and remember how this metaphor works. Do remember that children are not the same as their parents, and do grow up. To say that my father is the father of the modern me does not mean that everything I believe is identical to his beliefs. To say that Darwin is the father of Modern Evolutionary theory is to say just that -- he fathered it (well, really, we should say Darwin and Wallace). This statement in no way mdash; in no way whatsoever — suggests that all elements of the modern synthesis or any other contemporary evolutionary models were devised by him. This is just not what "father" means. People in the United States often call Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and Franklin the "founding fathers" of the United States. No one thinks that they founded the United States up until Jackson became president. The US they founded is the US that exists today, not in spite of all the changes but rather because of the changes, because "fathers" father things that take a life of their own and change.Slrubenstein | Talk 20:10, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

SLR, I'll thank you to keep your disgusting ideas about same-sex parentage to yourself. Graft 00:56, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Sorry! It is the anthropologist in me ... ;-)

Darwin devised the ideas of natural selection and sexual selection, with the former being generally regarded as the more important. We can simply say this, rather than inaccurately suggesting that Darwin created that which is today thought of as modern evolutionary theory.
One of the more common errors made by folks arguing for creationism is to claim that modern evolutionary science is the same thing as "Darwinism"; that it is based on Darwin's writings in the same sense that creationism is based on the Bible; that therefore any errors or omissions in Darwin's work remain errors or omissions in modern science; and therefore that by refuting passages from Darwin they can refute evolutionary science. This is a bad error, and it is encouraged by presenting Darwin too strongly in discussing evolution. --FOo 01:29, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree that when talking about Darwin, we should stress the significance of his idea of "natural selection." And I certainly agree with you that we must make clear all the advances in evolutionary theory since Darwin, especially where contemporary evolutionary biologists and biological anthropologists have diverged from claims made by Darwin. But that does not change the fact that Darwin (with an un-named partner whose gender I will refrain from mentioning) is the father of evolutionary theory. As I said, my father is my father -- but despite my having half his genes, and that he was a major influence in my life for 18-21 years, does not mean that he is responsible for who I am today. You seem to misunderstand what it means to say someone was the "father" of something. I agree with you that this article must anticipate creationist arguments. But we should not give into creationists by allowing their villification of Darwin to lead us to under-emphasize his importance.Slrubenstein | Talk 02:00, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The modern synthesis is a bit more complicated than that historically speaking. It's a mix of Darwinian natural selection, Galtonian statistical approaches to heredity, Mendelian notions of genetics, mixed up in a biological/statistical soup by a number of rather intelligent fellows. Darwin would himself find it quite unlike any of his visions of evolution — it is very much a 20th-century creation, very different in approach and method than Darwin's 19th-century Humboldtian mind. That's my take on it, anyway.
About "fatherhood": I think it's a hard thing to really sort out rigorously, and its an especially difficult historical picture. A lot of it comes down to what we conclude Darwin's "contribution" was, but of course we are walking through history backwards when we do that. Darwin thought sexual selection was a contribution on par with natural selection, and thought Pangenesis would, er, pan out in the end. He also considered himself having given a major contribution to racial theory (he didn't believe natural selection had anything to do with it) and a cogent understanding of how to approach the question of the evolution of human behavior (see what dogs do, think of it as a simplified version of humanity), none of which were terribly influential either in their own day or in the present. We're doing something somewhat artifical by taking one child among many, clearly. Why Lamarck, Huxley, Galton, and Fisher weren't, in their own ways, fathers, is worth considering. And while Wallace might have been necessary for the coitus, it is worth asking whether he really contributed an equal amount of materials to the final mixture!
It's worth remembering that specifically Darwinian evolution was in considerably dire straights in the scientific community until the modern synthesis came around, I think saying that Darwin is the father of "modern" evolutionary theory could be a bit misleading (especially with the association of "modern" with the modern synthesis). Anyway -- I think labeling Darwin as "Charles Darwin, creator of the theory of evolution by natural selection" gets the point across pretty well! Nobody of course is arguing that Darwin doesn't deserve a primary role here; it's just a matter of being precise about what he did, I think.

---Fastfission 03:10, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It now says 'creator' which I find a little odd. 'Father' atleast suggests that the idea canhave continued to 'evolve' if you will. 'Creator', to me, suggests that the current theories are all his. -- Ec5618 17:36, Jun 14, 2005 (UTC)
I'm fine with that. --Fastfission 21:30, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yo what's up homies? I'd always understood Darwin to be the "Father" of evolutionary theory, with Lamarck being regarded as the "Grandfather". These are of course imperfect metaphors that can be argued over to death. But, truly, are not the advancements/changes in evolutionary theory just corollaries and refinements to Darwin's original theory? Even punctuated equilibrium only states that evolution can sometimes occur rapidly in short bursts; but it does not negate Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, it only goes on to more precisely define the variable manner in which this process proceeds. Likewise, theories of genetics in regard to evolution explain the underlying cause of the genetic variation that natural selection (including sexual selection) selects from, but doesn't replace natural selection as the primary mechanism of change with respect to what course changes in populations take. I mean, I'm no biologist, but to my knowledge Darwinian theory is still the foundation of the science -- if you stand back and look at things from a relative distance, Darwinian evolution is still the basic force at work, with all the theories since then more or less just holding up a magnifying glass to it. Am I completely off-base? --Corvun 05:44, August 20, 2005 (UTC)
The modern synthesis of evolutionary biology is not simply a corollary or refinement of Darwin's theory. It certainly does not in any way negate or disprove Darwin's work -- rather, the modern synthesis combines Darwin's work with the equally important work of Mendel and other geneticists. Genetics is not simply an elucidation of evolution, which should be clear from the fact that Mendel came up with the basics of genetics with no knowledge of evolution -- and that Darwin came up with evolution with no knowledge of genetics.
In one sense, Darwinian evolution and genetics explain one another -- but neither is merely a comment upon the other. Genetics explains what the units of variation are (genes) and, later, how variation takes place (recombination and mutation). Evolution explains how the particular genes we observe came to be. It is an historical error to reduce the role of genetics in the modern synthesis to a sideline and make "Darwinism" out to be the whole picture. (Nor does the fact that Darwinian evolution is the larger scale matter really: after all, you can't drive across town using a desktop globe as your map, even though the globe is a "big picture" when compared with a road map.)
(Please note, by "genetics" I do not mean "genomics" or the modern technology that descends from Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA. I mean the whole statistical science of heredity that descends from the work of Mendel and Galton. Nonetheless, the work of Watson and Crick, and the boom of molecular biology which followed, have more to do directly with Mendelian genetics than with "Darwinism" and the development of species.)
What's my point? Darwin did lay the groundwork for one wing of the edifice which is modern evolutionary biology. But his contribution should not be taken to overshadow that of others, particularly that of genetics. The modern view (that is, the view of today's science) of evolutionary biology is most emphatically not "Darwinism", in the sense of a set of ideas or beliefs that Darwin himself could have held. (It is certainly not "anti-Darwinism" either!) It is a structure of which Darwin's work forms one part of the foundation. --FOo 06:07, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
I never said that the genetic theory was just an elucidation of Darwin's theory of evolution, but that the study of genetics as it applies to evolution is an elucidation of Darwin's theory of evolution. As you note, Darwinism has not been disproven or negated in any way. The process Darwin described as evolution is as he defined it. All we've done is modify the definition by greater precision. The modern view is essentially the same as Darwin's, but with a much more refined understanding. You seem to be implying that this much more refined understanding is fundamentally different from Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, yet if that were true, then you would not be able to say as you have that Darwin's theories were neither negated nor disproved. They have been greatly elucidated upon, by your own indirect admission, yet you outright deny this is the case in your first paragraph. Why the contradiction? While I hold you in nothing but respect, as you are obviously a very intelligent person, I find you argument internally inconsistent. I suspect if we follow both our lines of reasoning to an as-yet-unforseen logical end, we will find our arguments fundamentally based in differences of opinion and/or initial perspective. --Corvun 06:48, August 20, 2005 (UTC)
There are certainly ways in which the modern notion of evolution is "fundamentally different" from Darwin's theory. For one, it is based (founded) upon the idea of genes and a genetic notion of heredity. This gives it the power to explain the continued and increasing variety of variation -- something that cannot be explained by the earlier concept of blending inheritance. Lacking genetics, Darwin could not describe how new traits could come into being, nor what mechanism prevented new traits from simply being "blended" back into the gene pool leaving no discernable change over time. Genetics gives us the answers to these questions: new traits arise by mutation and recombination; and individual genes do not blend because they are discrete pieces of information. The modern understanding of evolution can explain these things, and so has greater explanatory power than "Darwinism". Darwin's work is not contradicted, but things that he could not explain are explained. This is not simply an elucidation of Darwin's themes, but a synthesis of two strains of biological thought -- Darwin's and genetics -- into a new and broader view of evolution and its role in biology.
I suspect that I basically agree with you that there is a difference of perspective going on here. Nonetheless, I think there is a substantial reason not to use the word "modern" in connection with Darwin's contribution to evolutionary theory. That word is prominently used in the name of the modern synthesis, a later development of evolutionary biology. To call Darwin's work "modern" suggests that Darwin was working within or upon this later development, when in fact he was not. That's all. --FOo 04:13, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
Thank you very much for taking the time to explain your position better. I see now there's no internal inconsistency. This does appear to be fundamentally a difference in perspective. I'm seeing the modern synthesis and things like punctuated equilibrium as being incorporated into Darwin's basic theory, thereby giving Darwin's basic theory greater explanatory power. From my angle, Darwin must've known that his theory was only the "globe" to which "road maps" would later need to be added; I therefore see him as the one who created the basic framework within which (or within which from outside) later scientific developments have taken place, much like a globe contains all of the areas one might potentially see on a road map. To me, saying that Darwin was the father of modern evolution doesn't imply that he has been a part of all subsequent work or that his work is modern, in the same way that referring to Galileo as the father of modern astronomy makes no such suggestion, but obviously this is an implication that others might see, thereby making the statement too controversial to be used here. --Corvun 04:52, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

(Too much indentation!)

Ah, I think I see the difference. When I use the term "Darwin's theory", I mean the theories that the man Charles Darwin himself described in his own works. I mean this not as an adulation of Darwin, but as simple precision -- just as I would say that "Mark Twain's novels" are those that the man himself wrote, and not anyone else's novels -- not even novels inspired by Twain.

In contrast, you seem to be using the term "Darwin's theory" to mean a continuity of evolutionary thought and research ever since Darwin; noting that this whole continuity is in accord with Darwin's core ideas, and nothing in it contradicts or disproves those core ideas. I get this impression from your statement: "I'm seeing the modern synthesis and things like punctuated equilibrium as being incorporated into Darwin's basic theory, thereby giving Darwin's basic theory greater explanatory power."

Please pardon me for expanding upon my usage. In my way of using the term "Darwin's theory", there is no way that later work can become incorporated into of "Darwin's theory", since that category closed when Darwin died. (Dead scientists create no new theories.) Rather, the work of Darwin informs that of later scientists. These later scientists' concepts of evolution become much more detailed, descriptive, and complete than any concept expounded by the man Darwin.

Rather than saying that Darwin's theory expands to incorporate the work of people living long after Darwin died, I would prefer to say that the later concepts of evolution subsume, or are founded partially upon, Darwin's. However, Darwin's ideas are not the only ideas they subsume, and Darwin's work does not constitute the whole of the foundation for the "modern" edifice.

This may in part be the distinction between a textbook way of referring to scientific theories; and a history of science approach. In a textbook, all evolutionary biology is Darwinian; all classical physics is Newtonian (and relativistic physics Einsteinian); all coordinate planes in geometry are Cartesian; and so forth. The names of researchers are landmarks to identify the major schools of thought. An historian of science, in contrast, wants to know exactly which ideas are due to which specific researchers.

The historian discovers (or so I am told) that Descartes' own conception of the coordinate plane did not include the requirement that the axes be perpendicular, which is now considered necessary. In common parlance, this requirement becomes part of "Cartesian geometry", but in speaking historically we cannot attribute it to Descartes himself. Likewise, in calling a concept of evolution "Darwin's theory" when that concept was never held by Darwin himself -- or in calling Darwin's own theory "modern", suggesting the modern synthesis -- it seems to me that we would stretch the truth. --FOo 07:33, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Random change

Should we mention in the intro that Evolution does not actually mean 'random' change? A vandal recently inserted the word 'random' in front of every mention of 'evolution' or 'change'. I think thatsort of thinking (a common misconception) should be nipped in the bud. -- Ec5618 17:36, Jun 14, 2005 (UTC)

Drift is already poorly understood; it shouldn't be subordinated to selection in the intro. Graft 20:21, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I think I understand the editors adding of 'random', and I'm vehemently pro-evolution. If not for the fact that it specifically noted 'in other fields' he would have been completely correct. What most people don't understand is that the mutations are random, I had a biology teacher that repeatedly referred to mutations as 'the body changing to fit the environment' which is just wrong entirely. Too many people get the idea that the mutations are all good, or are all active, or that all the past ones are still in the gene pool.

The changes are completely random, it is only through the process of survival of the fittest that the bad ones are eliminated and the good ones spread to further generations. And I think if you were to make that mention in the intro it would very much confuse people and do more harm than good. Jimbobsween 03:00, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Good points, truly. My addition of the word 'selective' was premature. Nevertheless, shouldn't this article address some the bigger misconceptions about evolution. The 'selective randomness' should, I feel, be addressed. While the change may be random in a single generation, the intro talks of change over generations, which does include selection, does it not? -- Ec5618 08:54, Jun 17, 2005 (UTC)

It is crucial that we start by emphasizing that the variation within a population typically owes to random genetic mutations. As for "evolution" itself, I think "random" is the wrong word for the right idea. "Stocastic" is more accurate, as would be "non-teliological," or "undirected and undirectional." Slrubenstein | Talk 13:02, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Since, very roughly, evolution = mutation + selection + drift, and mutation + drift are stochastic processes, "random" is maybe appropriate. Selection is definitely non-random, so I don't think we're going to find a convenient adjective here. Better to leave it out, eh. If we could find a pithy sentence encapsulating the idea completely, wherefore the rest of the article? Graft 23:12, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Oooh Ooh! Lemme try!
Evolution is the process which is the result of selection operating on variation.
YAY! Done. Beat that! ;-)
Now you still need to expand that into a non-jargon explanation, but that's basically it. :-P (also note that in this version, creationists can't argue with it. I've had some try. :-) )
(Note that variation and sources of variation are not very clear in wikipedia. Variation need not be genetic, need not be due to mutation. Also, selection need not be natural. In general, basic biology coverage in wikipedia seems to suck :-/ ) Kim Bruning 09:32, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I have just one problem with the word "random". While there is certainly an element of randomness involved in variation (which need not be due to genetic mutation at all! Think recombination), it's not -exactly- random in the sense that most people would see it. The dice are strongly loaded! (Think Genetic linkage for starters.) Kim Bruning 07:32, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The way I see it, it is a guided random walk. The guide is selection, the randomness comes from mutation, and it is a walk because it is largely stable (i.e. the present state is predicted almost entirely by the previous state).Pdbailey 02:40, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The problem with the word "random" (and "randomness" in general) is that in its colloquial form it can mean an entire host of things, ranging from "chance" to "lack of choice" to "equiprobability" (Karl Pearson's The chances of death from 1897 has a number of interesting takes on this in both the biological and nonbiological realms, for the historically inclined). In statistical terms it has a number of semi-precise meanings but they often vary quite far from colloquial understandings ("tests of randomness" have to do with certain theoretical distributions which often don't occur in real-world "random" processes) and the philosophical definitions of "randomness" (i.e. such as that by Richard von Mises) are often pretty far from all of these usages (the idea of the Kollectiv is not well represented in popular thought, it must be admitted!). Personally I think the word should be replaced with something more precise, i.e. "non-guided" or "unpredictable" or whatever is meant by "random" in this sense. "Blind variation" might be the most specific as I understand it.. --Fastfission 04:43, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Well we all know that much of what we are inclined to think of as "random" is merely the result of finite, though seemingly infinite, tiny variables that never repeat in exactly the same combination. Any layman who was paying attention to Ian Malcom's dialogue in the Jurassic Park movie knows that the seemingly random may in fact not be random at all. Of course randomness and unpredictability are not the same thing. However, this is somewhat like referring to cities as naturally occuring structures. While it is absolutely true that cities are natural structures in a technical, pedantic sense, referring to them as such sort of makes the word "artificial" meaningless; if everything is natural (which it technically is), then why even have a word for "artificial"? Well, "artificial" can, in this context, be considered a subcategory of "natural", with the word "natural" being used in common speach to refer to any part of nature which isn't artificial. In the same way, "random" can be considered a subcategory of "non-random". And in case I've lost anybody, I'll refer to biology, in which vertabrates are a subcategory of invertabrates (cladistically speaking, though "invertabrates" is not a valid clade for obvious reasons). This is probably related to the phenomenon of using "animal" to mean any animal other than humans, even though the word itself is etymologically defined by the concept of humanness. To sum-up, things may not "actually" be random, but if you take this to its logical end, then there's no such thing as randomness -- so we can take "random" to mean exactly what it is used to refer to, which is anything that happens to be the result of non-repeating non-randomness. --Corvun 06:23, August 20, 2005 (UTC)


Err, this macroevolution hangup is creeping backing into the page. Can we have this out once and for all? I didn't get anything really meaningful out of the archive (Talk:Evolution/Micro_vs_Macro), other than there's a few papers with uses of 'macroevolution' in pubmed and Gould uses it. Graft 20:34, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

A couple of years afo I added definitions of micro- and macro-evolution stating that they involved the same mechanisms but at different scales. Gould's latest (last) theories aside, this still seems to me to be reasonable. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:07, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I seem to remember we had an argument about this a while ago. I don't agree with that. For example, genome duplication is almost certainly going to be a speciation event, a clear mechanistic difference between micro- and macro-evolution. Graft 20:58, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
This is what I mean by "different scales." Slrubenstein | Talk 19:12, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Graft is right - genome duplication is the easiest way to create a new species (Triticale blows the creationist argument that speciation has never been observed ouit fo the water). Since it necessarily results in speciation, it is a purely macroevolutionary process. Any sort of genome re-arrangement will similarly be a purely macroevolutionary process. On the other hand, the changes that are "macroevolutionary" in the creationist parlance (e.g., evolution of wings) probably rely on the same processes as microevolution (and depending on your prespective, can be microevolutioanry, since they do not have to involve a speciation event, but instead probably happened within lineages that split for other reasons). Guettarda 22:55, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

At the current level of detail/quality on wikipedia, could we just say for now that macroevolution==microevolution==molecular evolution==evolution~=darwinism and leave it at that? Currently, splitting the (extremely thin!) hairs on these topics isn't going to be helpful imho. Kim Bruning 09:39, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Err... now I'm no longer clear on terminology. Is macroevolution speciation and the like, or is it drastic phenotypic evolution? Graft 19:51, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
AFAIK, macroevolution is change between species - speciation and up. But I don't have a ref handy. Guettarda 00:02, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Check this out. Graft 13:58, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Cool. Thanks. Guettarda 14:03, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I think that the micro/macro distinction is a Divide et imperia tactic used by ID folks to cast confusion and bewilderment into the ranks of their opponents to cover their God of the gaps style retreat.

Must be me! There's an old comment of mine in the archives where I searched pubmed. No one seems to have looked at it for maybe a year or so, so off I go and actually make a change for once ;-)

Kim Bruning 17:39, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Although macroevolution/macro-evolution accounts for only 144 and microevolution/micro-evolution accounts for only 213 "Subject" entries in Biological Abstracts in the period 1969-2004, as opposed to 134765 subject entries for "evolution", if you break it down by decade you can see that macro- & micro- are being more important terms:

Period Macro Micro Evolution
1970-1979 0 0 21,384
1980-1989 0 0 26,125
1990-1999 41 98 50,441
2000-2004 100 114 34041

Of course people are more likely to just use "evolution", but there is substantial use of the other terms in recent years. Guettarda 20:51, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Cool work!
Did you read all the titles and/or abstracts too? I was crazy enough to do that once. Let me see if I can remember...
I think all micro/macro articles were like either on creationism or ID debate, mostly reports from conferences at that, and a number of philosophy of science articles, but practically none from biologists. Is that about right?
Hmmm, and on a total of 34041, even if they *had* all been by biologists, it might be a bit premature to give the terms any prominence perhaps.
Kim Bruning 21:14, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Kim - I haven't gotten through them all, but BA indexes peer-reviewed scientific journals (so weeds out the creationists) and all but one of the 2004 papers were hard science, not social-political impacts. 100+ articles in the last 5 years is pretty substantial. When I reverted the anon I went back to Dunc's version because I didn't feel all that comfortable reverting to your version. I would not have reverted your edits otherwise, but since I was reverting I felt I should revert to the version I was more comfortable with. Guettarda 01:50, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'm not convinced. 100 articles in the last 5 years is not much in a field as large as biology. But ok... maaaaybe. We'd have to start reading some of them to see what's up. Could you download some representative pdfs from your search, or maybe like get your library to forward copies to me (contact me per email on how-to) or so? Kim Bruning 01:57, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I emailed you - hopefully the Wikipedia email works this time. I am not saying that this is or is seems notable to me, but my positions are not set in stone or anything. Guettarda 02:10, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
"Adaptive radiation" gets 194 hits on pubmed. "Muller's ratchet" gets 66. "Selective sweep" gets 95. Not nearly as many as "evolution", but idiosyncratic terms within a field obviously shouldn't. Graft 02:51, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Guettarda, I still haven't received any pdfs from you referring to micro and macro-evolution. Does this mean that you checked the papers in more detail and couldn't find any, or haven't you had time yet? I have to admit that I'm getting very curious by now ;-) Kim Bruning 30 June 2005 13:20 (UTC)

I want to point out that the relatively small number of hits for micro-evolution and macro-evolution is in no way evidence that these terms are disliked by biologists--all it means is that biologists often talk about evolution in a context where micro/macro is irrelevent. This is especially true for molecular and cellular biologists; these biologists will make comparisons and make inferences about the evolution of the system, but they don't care about the nature of the gene pool within which these changes happened. Furthermore, most molecular and cellular biologists know very little about evolution, and probably wouldn't use micro/macro-evolution properly, but will still talk about evolution in a broad sense.

Hovind nonsense

Removed the following bit from the article:

Some creationists, such as Dr. Kent Hovind, believe that evolution is the basis for Nazism, Communism, Marxism, Mother Earth worship, racism, and that "dinosaurs were in the Garden of Eden, have always lived with man, were on the ark with Noah, and that a few may still be alive today in some parts of the world."

as it includes inflammatory comments by a diploma mill Dr of religion plus a direct quote with no referenced source. This nonsense doesn't help the article and is inflamatory POV - even if sourced. Vsmith 13:12, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I don't agree. What's the POV? That Hovind is a ridiculous jackass, and people who side with him are loony? That's what I get from that quote. I might agree with avoiding the "Dr.", though. Graft 14:47, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yeah Hovind's bonkers, and even YECs who have some fairly bonkers view themselves, can see this. But don't place too muhc emphasis on it though, he may be a nutter but he'snot a serious a threat as the IDiots, or for that matter the "mainstream" YECs. If you do that you create a POV strawman of creationism, which is sinking to their level. Dunc| 14:58, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I agree with this. As a representation of Hovind's views, it is accurate. The question is whether not Hovind just provides an easy strawman. However his views that evolution is the basis of Nazism, Communism, and racism are not limited to just him -- a good deal of the YECs and the IDers subscribe to this as well. --Fastfission 02:35, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Pardon, he's not an easy strawman. So far he has been quite successful in debating the top scientists. By the way, that expression - "IDiots" - really shows the resolve that you folks are showing with this debate. Answer this question: do you think that such harsh disparagement towards your objectors serves a worthwhile purpose in this nationwide debate? Hey, don't get me wrong - you don't want to stoop to their (the creationists') level. Also, do you think that it would be more difficult for communism, Marxism, Nazism, etc to emerge in a country that possesses an atheistic Darwinian majority or a country which possesses a theistic Christian majority? In my opinion it is imperative that you first listen to Dr. Hovind before you draw conclusions about him. He is a little wacko sometimes, but he nonetheless appears to be sensible in his assumptions about our classrooms and morality, and their respective relation to evolutionary core ideologies. Salva 23:03, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I have listened to Hovind. The whole seminar, much of it twice. He is more than just a little wacko, but highly entertaining. I guess what caused me to make up my mind about him was his presentation on how biochip implants are probably the "mark of the beast" referred to in Revelations. Of course it would be easier for Marxism to arise in an atheistic country, but this doesn't mean that evolution is the "basis" for Marxism. You suggest a false dichotomy. There are theistic Christians who do not reject the theory of Darwin. Roman Catholicism never explicitly rejected evolution and has affirmatively stated that the theory is not inimical to the Christian faith for over fifty years. Yet few (other than Jack Chick and co.) would suggest that the Catholic Church laid the seeds for Marxism in not rejecting evolution.
Is any of this relevant to this page? I suppose Kent Hovind could be considered a strawman. Answers in Genesis has disavowed him specifically. But I'm sure he's not the only YEC who has made the statement about evolution being the basis for Nazism, Communism, etc. Perhaps we should just modify the quote to delete the reference to Hovind. E.g. "some creationists believe that ..." -- Temtem 23:34, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)
The fact that Hovind may not be the best exemplar does not make it better to replace a reference to him with weasel terms. Hovind does make the claims that are referenced, and he is apparently notable. It might be best to put in some more names, or better yet cite an organization, but by all means it would be a bad idea to not cite anything specific at all. siafu 23:41, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'll agree with that. -- Temtem 23:43, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)
Salva, being a fundamentalist Christian, this may be hard for you to understand, but Christianity has killed millions upon millions of people. From World War II to the Crusades, from Ancient Rome to modern homophobes, Christians have been incredibly destructive people. Communism is not scary; it is simply silly and unable to work because people are selfish. It might work in small groups, but it is not a viable economic strategy in a large population. Moreover, though many equate it with a government, the fact of the matter is that the governments of China and the USSR may have embraced (or claimed to embrace) a communistic economic system, their governments were not "communist" but of other forms. In any event, communism is not a bad thing, just a rather pathetic one. Relgion is inherently a bad thing, because it blocks out the ability for people to understand the world.
It is far easier to control a nation of religious folk; this is known as a theocracy, and is the current goal of the religious right; their intent in banning evolution from public schools is to promote ignorance, because then it allows them to take over and make their archaic superstitious taboos laws of the land. Religion is the single most powerful theory in all of science, and is probably the best supported - I cannot think of any other that surpass it.
It is best if people think for themselves, and teaching them science is the best route towards that. By being able to look at and understand the world, superstition is destroyed and more advancements can be made. Science destroys religion because it allows people to understand the world and draw logical conclusions, rather than having to believe the words of their elders/witch doctors/shamans/clerics/kazoo-playing bum down the street.
Hovind is an incompetant who does not deserve the name of "doctor". If people were smarter, he'd be penniless or pursuing a more constructive career. He does not understand science and does not understand evolution, or if he does, he willfully misrepresents it. I think he is a fine example of creationism, because there are many people who think the way he and others (such as Jack Chick) do. Just because they are zealots does not mean that they should not be mentioned. ID is another example of creationist idealogy, and I'd argue they are zealots too who do not understand/willfully misrepresent science. Titanium Dragon 05:53, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Why don't you tell us how you really feel? --Ignignot 15:53, Jun 23, 2005 (UTC)
  • Correct, Temptem, it is not in fact the basis, but evolutionary ideology does make it much easier for the above to flourish.
  • Hovind has 7 seminars. I would probably recommend about 3 out of those seven for serious viewing. Also, you might want to consider watching him slam Michael Shermer in the debate posted on his website before you label Hovind a complete moron.
  • Hitler believed the Jews were an inferior race. (Evolutionary thinking.) The soviets taught their kids evolution in school because they knew it was a core ideology of communism itself. Salva 01:40, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Lysenkoism is not evolution --JPotter 00:50, July 29, 2005 (UTC)

Unfortunately, Salva, you are confusing Social Darwinism with evolution. They're entirely different concepts, one is a coined phrase and the other is the most accepted theory in the scientific community explaining the origin of life on earth. It is, however, a very easy mistake to make. -- Tristam

Before you go marching down this road with your reductio ad Hitlerum, keep in mind that the Nazis were Christians, not to mention that you should probably find a source for your rather outlandish claim that the Soviet Union (or any other communist for that matter) saw the theory of evolution as the core ideology of communism. Racism and anti-semitism are not the results of the theory of evolution; they existed long before Darwin or Lamarck, and continue to exist to this day despite them. siafu 02:48, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
This debate is silly and wrong, to boot, since the Soviet Union was definitely NOT teaching modern evolutionary theory. See Lysenkoism for the weird stuff they DID teach. All of which highlights Dunc's original point - Hovind is an obvious idiot, bald-facedly wrong, and so a bit of a straw-man. So - do we wish to remove the Hovind bit from the article or not? Graft 17:20, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
If you want to know how Marxism clashes with evolutionary biology, just read E.O. Wilson's account of the beginnings of sociobiology in Naturalist. Or read Pinker. Guettarda 18:47, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The Nazis were NOT Christians...that is a very outlandish statement if there ever was one. Hitler himself said that the greatest lie was Christianity. As a matter of fact, near the end of the war, they began to move their sights towards Catholics rather than Jews. (there weren't many Jews left.) And I too agree that this debate needs to be reoriented back to where it was - I think that the statements about Hovind should go. Like I said before, I would watch some of his debates rather than seminars. Many of his debators have asked him the same questions you are probably asking and he always seems to have a reasonable rebuttal to administer... buuut as far as a threat to evolution, he's not the greatest. Salva 22:36, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Germany was a Christian nation, and anti-Semitism stems from "Christian identity" and 2000 years of teachings by the church, not from evolutionary thinking. Racial inequality pre-dates evolutionary biology by a long while - African slavery was predicated on racial superiority. Nazi Germany was not atheist, not like Soviet Russia (or modern Germany). My Nazi grandfather was a Lutheran. Hitler's inner circle were certainly not atheists (see Nazism_in_relation_to_other_concepts#Nazism_and_religion). Even if they were not Christians, they were creationist at some level. The antagonism towards Catholicism is far from certain - after all, there are many people who are convinced that Hitler and the Pope were allies. Not to mention that hatred for Catholics is widespread among Protestant Christians, so even if it were substantiated, it isn't evidence one way or the other. Guettarda 22:57, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
That is very interesting. Christianity is a religion that is shown through action in my opinion, and not by a simple pledge. I suppose that is my basis for saying that the Nazis were not Christians. There are people today that do horrible things and say that they are Christians. Adolph Hitler did however justify his acts with a form of evolutionary thinking - he believed that the Jews were the closest to apes and was simply trying to hasten natural selection by eliminating the "inferior race." And I will reiterate that he did say that Christianity was the biggest lie in the world. Salva 23:33, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

OK. This is a little beyond off topic. The question of who-killed-more is not only irrelevant but worthless. (A lot of people killed other people for ideologies they said were in accordance with either Evolution or Christianity. This neither reflects upon either Evolution or Christianity; it reflects more on the ability of people to kill lots of people and believe they are doing it for a good reason, however crazy it is) and has nothing to do with this page. The question is whether Hovind is a good exemplar of Creationist beliefs, or if he was chosen simply to make Creationists look exceedingly extreme. Whatever one thinks about "most" of his arguments (I think they are poor, but whatever), he certainly holds some opinions which, when selected out of his others, make him look like a wacko to people who are not fundamentalist Creationists.

I agree it shouldn't be replaced with weasel terms. Currently all of that seems to have been removed, and I think the current coverage of both evolution/eugenics and evolution/religion is not so bad (I think the religion part could be condensed up a bit, but mostly for stylistic reasons).

Anyway -- cool off. Wikipedia talk pages are for discussing article content, not having little debates about religion. That's what the rest of the internet is for, remember? ;-) --Fastfission 04:54, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I don't see how Hovind is relevant. Even back in my creationist days, when I ran the "Talk.Science Archive" (a parody of the Talk.Origins archive that I doubt anyone remembers), none of us creationists took Hovind seriously. It took pretty much everything we had in us not to start attacking his junk right along with the evolutionists'. Of course, none of us actually would have done it, since there's an unwritten rule that creationists never criticize eachother. (That's one of the contributing factors that eventually led to my de-conversion, as I considered it very unethical.) --Corvun 05:02, September 11, 2005 (UTC)

Unfortunately, it's not just Hovind that makes this argument; a number of the ID crowd, Phillip E. Johnson and William A. Dembski specifically, make this same argument. Quotes can be provided for anyone interested. It was even hinted at in the original mission statement of the Discovery Institute and their Center for Science and Culture, as seen here]. FeloniousMonk 05:13, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

I never thought much of them, either. I guess that's why I didn't remain a creationist too long. Over at Talk.Origins, it eventually came out, after I gave my "testimony" which told every thought and feeling I had during the whole gut-wrenching, heart-breaking experience of my de-conversion, that they'd always thought of me as a "cut above" the other creationists; willing to admit my mistakes, to criticize other creationists (especially for repeating the same claims after being proven wrong), not accepting the macro/micro distinction and admitting that the mechanism for micro-evolution could lead to large-scale changes had the Earth been old enough to allow for it (and at a faster rate than proposed by mainstream science at that, using punctuated equilibrium as an example of how the few "kinds" on the Ark could have, in the aftermath of the flood, diversified into the amazing biodiversity we see today), etc., etc. It was an amazingly positive experience. The very evolutionists I'd argued against and mocked as heretics welcomed me into the fold with open arms, and many expressed feelings of admiration and respect for my "courage". It ended up leading to a huge discussion on what sort of evidence it would take for other creationists to accept evolution. The eventual conclusion was that Gish, Morris, Johnson, et. al., were either crooks who really did believe in evolution, or simply couldn't admit they were deceiving themselves. --Corvun 05:48, September 11, 2005 (UTC)


I don't see why it should be linked here. It is not NPOV. They state:

This site is not "viewpoint neutral", and we do not keep pro-creationism edits, or discuss the details of such edits and why we remove them. This may seem closed-minded or dogmatic to those unfamiliar with the details of the controversy, but such creationist edits are invariably issues refuted elsewhere on the site and scientifically incorrect. (from Evowiki - Aim)

Given that here we have a nice and well written NPOV article, that on Evowiki don't add anything new. --pippo2001 8 July 2005 03:44 (UTC)

Linked articles need not be neutral - they are not Wikipedia, after all, and are simply presented for the reader's further consideration. Graft 8 July 2005 03:56 (UTC)
Looks like the usual creationist nonsense in addition to being spam. Dunc| 10:43, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

CBS creationism poll

A poll conducted by CBS warrants further discussion over adding creationist viewpoints to the article.

According to this poll, creationism is not a minority viewpoint and is worthy of inclusion. -- 01:44, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Creationism is certainly a notable subject and worthy of inclusion in Wikipedia. Nobody is proposing to delete the article Creationism on the grounds of non-notability. However, this article is not the article about creationism, creation beliefs, or any other religious subject. It is about the biological phenomenon of evolution. This article makes note of the issues in public opinion and policy regarding the two, and refers the reader to Creationism for details on that phenomenon. That is absolutely how it should be. --FOo 02:16, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
This is rubbish. Creationism may not be a minority position in the US but it is more or less everywhere else in the developed world. Barnaby dawson 06:26, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

The VERY FIRST rule of science is that ideas have to be falsifiable. Any idea which requires the existance of an omnipotent superbeing, almost by definition, cannot be proven wrong (because no matter what the evidence says, you can always counter with - 'but that's the way god made it'). Therefore, creationism (or intellegent design, or whatever other form it comes back as) is mythology, not science, and does not belong in this article. →Raul654 06:43, July 25, 2005 (UTC)

Actually, I'd argue the opposite: Any theory that required an omniscient superbeing for the design of humans as their final design is easy to refute. Here's just one example—look up the description of Lesch-Nyhan. Either God was an extremely bad designer to allow the possibility of this "product defect" in humans or God is very, very, very cruel. I can see no other possibilities. The only rational explanation for Lesch-Nyhan and other birth defects is evolution. Kasper Gutman 12:39, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
I don't think anyone here is trying to claim that creationism deserves further discussion on the basis of its scientific standing, but on the basis that a very, very large number of people, representing only an extremely slight minority in the United States, believe in creationism, and that the article should address these issues. While I personally disagree with doing this (I think issues dealing with creationism need to stay on the creationism page), I think this ongoing insistance by non-creationists to have more material on this page addressing the subject of creationism is based in several factors:
    • Almost half of all Americans believe humans were created by Yahveh/Jehovah/whomever less than 10,000 years ago.
    • While this belief is relatively uncommon outside the U.S., there are more English-speakers in the United States than all the other English-speakers combined, and so creationism can be considered a very, very significant phenomenon within the context of English-speaking culture.
    • Most English-speaking people, particularly Americans, are more-or-less oblivious to the world outside of English-speaking culture, and accordingly seem to think that a significant phenomenon within the English-speaking world must, whether due to the political sway of the former British Empire and current United States Empire or some other factor, also be a significant phenomenon in the context of world-culture and the whole of the world's understanding of biology.
These might need to be the issues addressed on the page in relationship to creationism; a more thoroughly explained reason why this page cannot and should not spend a significant amount of KBs on the subject of creationism. --Corvun 08:40, July 25, 2005 (UTC)
I think a more cogent explanation of why this gets so much attention is its a flashy issue; this page is frequently attacked by creationist vandals, and educated people like poking fun at religious dogmatists. It's more entertaining to fulminate about creationism than to write about the fine detail of evolution. But that's not a sufficient basis for inclusion in this article. Graft 12:17, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
You'd think these folks, vocal anti-evolutionists and active anti-creationists alike, would have an ounce of consideration for how exhausting it must be on those folks who care mainly about the science of evolution to be yanked constantly into the middle of socio-religious debates between "believers" and "skeptics". You'd think they'd take their arguments and debates elsewhere if for no other reason than just to show a bit of the basic politeness and courteousness that their parents should've taught them. I guess that's too much to ask. I don't know who I'm more surprised by, the "skeptics" (who one would think would be more sympathetic to the evolutionary biologists' plights than to exacerbate the situation) or the "believers" (who one would think would act with some of the restraint and polite conduct that religious folks pride themselves on). If I were a biologist working in the field, I'd probably pull my hair out (and by this I mean to imply that the biologists must surely have it far worse than even we Wikipedians). --Corvun 21:12, July 25, 2005 (UTC)
Don't sell us Wikipedians short - the biologists are here. Guettarda 21:21, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
I didn't necessarily mean to imply otherwise. I'd imagine the Wikipedian biologists must have it doubly hard -- there'd be no escape! --Corvun 23:12, July 25, 2005 (UTC)
Imagine what it's like to edit Race and intelligence. Arbor 14:07, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
Not quite the same - or have they stopped using Rushton as their source? Guettarda 14:12, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
The problem is that these fundamentalist types do not see a distinction between their own beliefs and actual reality. They literally believe that 'god' created the universe and everything we see in it, and that evolution is therefore going directly against god's word. They actually believe this crap, so telling them to leave the science alone is unlikely to have any effect - many of them do not understand what science actually is, and see the biological theory of evolution as nothing more than a political/social attack on their fundamentally crazy beliefs. Hell, Salva sum's up exactly what I'm saying right here, and then he even goes on to blame evolution for communism, amongst other things. Creationists are real lunatics, so asking for sense and rationality from them is itself irrational. Aaarrrggh 20:56, 29 July 2005 (UTC)
I wouldn't call the majority of them lunatics. The major players like Gish and Morris are merely con-artists, while their unsuspecting victims are, IMHO, just that: victims. There really should be some form of intervention for them, though in the US that would probably be percieved as a "Satanic Attack" and result in some kind of civil war or something, considering that creationists represent about half of the population. --Corvun 16:39, August 2, 2005 (UTC)
I'm going to hurl. So what, creationists accept things on faith? Something wrong with that? Trying to force people to believe in the power of proof and logic? Scientific method? Well, they just don't buy into tell the truth, believing without "proof" is the basis of religion. Accept that as the explanation. Don't call them lunatics when you seem to have an unwavering sort of "faith" in the validity of a theory. Yes. That requires faith, no matter how much proof...becuase you can never explore all possibilities, even if you've never found any evidence to the contrary. They can call you lunatics for that. This argument could go back and forth for all eternity and never be resolved. Keep your inflammatory opinions to yourself...extremists and slander on BOTH sides is very present and highly unwelcome. Respect other viewpoints, and please don't join the ranks of these bitterly-arguing fools.
Faith should be linked to logic and reasoning. When something is disproven only a fool still believes. Such fools are hardly rare, though.
No-one can logically believe that there is an honest god, that created the world in 6 days (standard days), while still whipping up ancient looking fossils and sediments to fool us. And if we cannot trust the world to be what it seems, how can we trust that god, or the bible, koran, or anything for that matter. -- Ec5618 14:15, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Talk page speciation

I've decided to wikipedia:be bold and add a some text to the top of this page to emphasize that a subpage for religious topics (talk:Evolution/Creationism) that has been set up. If we stick rigidly to this text (which shall say that any post related to religion ought to be made on the creationism talk subpage) we will allow the main talk page to concentrate on other aspects of the writing of this article.

This change of behaviour will (I hope) have the following benfits:

  • Those who want to work on aspects of this article not related to religion can do so with greater ease.
  • Those who wish to carry out long discussions concerning religious positions (including creationism or intelligent design) can do so without worrying about disrupting this page.
  • This page will attract more editors who may be put off by a constant stream of religious discussion.

Importantly the talk pages should retain the basic functionality:

  • The ability to comment on and discuss changes to the text.
  • The openess to challenge. I.E this allows us to achieve the above goals without resorting to censorship

In order to make this change work it will be necessary for people to move text posted here to the subpage when the post is concerning religion in some way. Furthermore if the poster is new to this page then a brief message should be placed on their page to explain what has happened. If this experiment works I shall create a template for such messages. I shall start doing off enforcing this although I hope that others shall share the task with me.

It may be necessary to give notice of particularly important topics on both talk pages (if major changes are proposed or are being discussed). If a talk page is referred to in an edit that edit should make clear which talk page if it is not this main one.

Furthermore if others disagree with what I have done please say so. Or if you have suggestions as to how we can make the idea work better. Barnaby dawson 10:21, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

I think Mr kdbuffalo's, er, insightful comments should to be swiftly moved into talk:evolution/creationism/kdbufallo and some of the above needs to go too. We need to draw a distinction between evangelisists trying to convert us and people trying to make a serious point such as not making a strawman of creationism by dressing it in Hovind's clothes. Dunc| 14:30, 29 July 2005 (UTC)
Done --JPotter 16:28, July 29, 2005 (UTC)

History of life

Anyone want to fill in the details of vertebrate evolution in the indicated section? I can say a fair bit about mammalian radiation, but that's probably too fine a level of detail, and I really don't know that much about earlier evolutionary history. (I never got into dinosaurs as a kid, what can I say...) Graft 16:02, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

  • careful, not everyone believes in dinasours, you should be careful not to offend people with controversial statments like that-- 15:39, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
  • what do you mean with "believes in dinosaurs"? I don't think it is an act of faith. --pippo2001 16:59, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

evolution and philosophy

Would people comment on this [2]? I have heard philosophers of science address "evolution" and what they talk about and use as a point of reference in my experience is always Darwin, not the people or ideas in this article. I am concerned that the title is misleading and at the very least there needs to be more explanation in the article that will help readers understand why the contents in the article in question is not part of this article. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:04, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

POV in ethics

  • Mischaracterization of the eugenics movement. I replaced with language from the actual eugenics article.
  • More accurate representation of support eugenics received prior to the Holocaust, with a link to reference.
  • Removed POV original research relating to genetic diversity vs. selective breeding, and its applicability to ethical movements.

Parker Whittle 07:10, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Evolution page

I would like this page to deal more comprehensively with evolution itself, and not get sidetracked into the evolution-creationism issue, or the social implications, or the history of evolutionary thought. These are more than adequately covered elsewhere - let's focus on the theory itself here. Create an evolution infobox (vertical; major topics only) to put near the top, and you can gain extra space and focus by doing away with the summaries. Also section 1.1 (ancestry) looks like it's placed so near the top for creation-controversy reasons, as it's not actually helpful for explaining evolution itself. It should go further down. Rd232 21:21, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

This is a page about Evolution writ generally. It is not a page about Darwinian evolution or the modern evolutionary synthesis or Lamarckian evolution specifically. The history of evolutionary thought section well exemplifies why you can't have a simple, single article on "evolution" be just about one version of the scientific theory. I think it is better that this article be a general overview of many things related to Evolution as a concept, pointing towards articles with more depth on all of them. But those are just my two cents. --Fastfission 22:12, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
"This is a page about Evolution writ generally." - no it isn't: "This article is about evolution in the field of life science" (top of article). I think a general article including more things from evolution (disambiguation) would probably be a good and useful thing, but it currently isn't. It should make up it's mind - either focus on evolution as modern scientific theory, and don't clutter it with too-detailed summaries of related articles not necessary to understand that; or make it a general overview of all types of evolution (eg sociocultural evolution). Either way, in terms of usefulness for the readers, the summaries of related articles that are here need to be much shorter, allowing for greater coherence and much easier reading - and the daughter articles are there for the (much better organised) detail (especially with the infobox approach, where they're at the top as well as in the See also at the bottom). Currently you can't see the wood for the trees. (You didn't address my Ancestry section point.) Rd232 20:00, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

Well established?

The intro says:

With the publication of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace's joint paper in 1858 followed by Darwin's book Origin of Species in 1859, the theory of evolution by natural selection became firmly established within the scientific community.

This implies that just before the US civil war:

  1. there was a scientific community
  2. members of this community came to firmly believe in evolution by natural selection
  3. this firm belief has remained unaltered ever since

Was it really this sudden, absolute and unshakeable? I thought it took considerable time to catch on, and that it never enjoyed more than 90% to 95% acceptance among scientists. Uncle Ed 18:52, August 23, 2005 (UTC)

Good to see you editing again, Ed. While I think your quibble is accurate, and the "scientific community" was fractured and ill-staffed in the mid-nineteenth century, insofar as there was a community of naturalists this theory did gain widespread popularity amongst them. The subsequent points are more or less true. The idea that 5-10% of scientists disbelieve evolution is I think wholly without basis - unless you're polling physicists or something - then it might be more like that, though I don't know - but amongst people who have some clue what they're talking about, the number is damn near 100%. Graft 19:15, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
According to Newsweek in 1987, "By one count there are some 700 scientists with respectable academic credentials (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists) who give credence to creation-science..." That would make the support for creation science among those branches of science who deal with the earth and its life forms at about 0.14% --JPotter 18:46, August 30, 2005 (UTC)
To answer Ed's question more directly - when he publish his second book, the Descent of Man, Darwin was surprised at the reaction. He was expecting a firestorm of controversy similiar to what had happened 13 years earlier with the Origin of the Species; however, the book (while sold quite well for a book of the peroid) was met with more of a yawn. In 13 years, the idea had gone from highly controversial to well accepted. The Descent of Man should have caused more controversy, because (unlike the origin of species) Descent of Man talked specifically about Man's origins. However, it did not because by then most people had come to accept it as fact. →Raul654 23:47, August 30, 2005 (UTC)
No, it's not because they accepted it as fact, it's just because many other people had already put forward theories on the evolution of man. Darwin's Descent was mostly related to plumage in birds. While it did generate some controversy, it was not so much because it put forward the idea that man had evolved -- indeed Darwin himself had implied such was an obvious conclusion of his theory in Origin. --Fastfission 03:15, 31 August 2005 (UTC)
Ed, in order:
1. Scientific community before the Civil War: There was one, though its makeup was different than what we'd call the "scientific community" today. But science began professionalizing earlier in the century, and even though it didn't look quite like the "community" we have today it was still an organized community of sorts.
2. Evolution by natural selection: was not believed by much of the scientific community. Darwin did not convince most scientists that his method of evolution had occurred, though he did convince them that some sort of evolution had occurred. History of evolutionary thought has some information on this, I believe.
3. Since the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis/neo-Darwinism, the basic model has been the same.
Hope that clarifies things a bit, as I understand them (as someone who has studied quite a bit of the history of biology). --Fastfission 03:15, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

A belated thanks, FF. I never studied biology in high school or college, much to my present regret. So I know more about the history of chemistry, medicine and physics. My favorite episode is the revolution centering on the germ theory of disease. How the old school resisted this new discovery! But now Louis Pasteur (pasteurization) and Joseph Lister (Listerine mouthwash) are almost household names. Their names live on, anyway, in process and product. Who's this Darwin guy? ;-) Uncle Ed 00:40, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Theory vs. Law

For those in the know, please visit Talk:Creation-evolution_controversy for an interesting conversation about which is a stronger statement. --JPotter 21:11, August 23, 2005 (UTC)


This article does two things. First, it misreports as significant the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment and attempts to define abiogenesis as a theory instead of a hypothesis. I am not aware of any place other than this page where abiogenesis was taken as seriously as a theory as 13 of 21 ammino acids were and still are a far cry from DNA or one-celled organisms. Second, the article stated that "Since abiogenesis is rare or impossible and ..." in order to explain the vast time required for the theory. I removed that and just left it after the "and". To assume that abiogenesis is still possible when it is neither observable or falsifiable is to base this article on hope and/or faith. I would hope wiki would strive to avoid such a stance in an article on evolution especially a scientific article where these things have no place. I have thus removed the part about abiogenesis being rare or impossible with regards to time. It served no purpose anyway and seemed to indicate (in this article especially) that the law of biogenesis can be ignored because of a theory that stands in contradiction of it. Earlier I had removed the "rare or" portion and left "impossible". Someone did not like that, probably rightfully so due to their religious beliefs, so I have removed more of the statement. [I see this has changed back to biogenesis being significant again. Never mind, I guess faith belongs on this page.]G-wiki

Sorry, I reverted you because I thought you'd inserted that statement, when in fact you had deleted it. I concur with its deletion. It was unhelpful, and to confuse evolution with abiogenesis is a mistake, clearly.

With regard to abiogenesis being a hypothesis rather than well-developed theory, yes and no. There obviously was abiogenesis at some stage, so it can be stated as fact. We can develop hypotheses about how this happened and test them. And the RNA world hypothesis makes sense. Dunc| 21:30, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

The removed phrase has obviously been mis-interpreted here.
Since abiogenesis is rare or impossible under modern conditions ...
The emphasis is or should be on the under modern conditions - which in my interpretation means modern conditions on Earth where every available niche has been occupied by some life form ready to devour or use any precursor molecules in any abiogenesis sequence. The intent, as I read it, was that abiogenesis must essentially start on an essentially lifeless environment - or they fledgling life-to-be will be someone's lunch. This point still needs to be made somewhere me-thinks. Vsmith 22:00, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Why is abiogenesis even directly under "Ancestry of organisms"? Shouldn't it be under the "Origin of life" section or simply in the "Origin of Life" article? It seems outside of the scope of an Evolution article as it brings up many theories than have nothing to do with evolution. 22:10, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

I'm going to get nitpicky about this again, but I'd like to reiterate the misinterpretation of the Miller Urey experiment on this page. Here were the results: "Two percent of the carbon had formed amino acids". The side blurb here states: "The results of the experiment suggest that the chemicals necessary for life did tend to arise under those circumstances, supporting the theories of Abiogenesis." Correlation implies causation? Plus, it states Abiogenesis as a theory and not just a hypothesis of the MU experiment. I'm still trying to figure out where "theory" came from. Does anyone perhaps have a better or more recent experiment to use than a 1953 one?

Abiogenesis, and various conjectured mechanisms thereof, are beyond the scope of this article. Take it to abiogenesis. --FOo 15:33, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

The following was removed: (The results of the experiment suggest that the chemicals necessary for life did tend to arise under those circumstances, supporting the theories of Abiogenesis) correlation does not imply causation. Therefore, no actual support was given to Abiogenesis by the Miller-Urey experiment. It's hard to understand why this was even mentioned on the evolution page.

NPOV problem

This text has been moved to Talk:Evolution/Creationism where it can be found under the same heading. I did this as it was clear to me that the discussion concerned creationism. Please remember that this talk page has been split and that there are often better subpages for particular discussion. Barnaby dawson 15:27, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

What am I?

It seems if you belive in evolution your liberal atheist, and if you belive in creationism, your a christain religious nut. I belive in both, because evidence for evolution is overwhleming, but I feel life could never have been created on its own. My question is, what does that make me?--The Republican 23:54, 21 September 2005 (UTC)The Republicn

You're a creationist. Good luck with that. -- Ec5618 14:02, September 5, 2005 (UTC)
Try evolutionary creationism. Guettarda 14:05, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
You're like many people. The only problem I have with Intelligent Design is that it is a theory of origin. Evolution itself is not. The atheist-hijacked term, evolution, *is*. Therein lies the problem. It does not help that Abiogenesis is pratically praised on this page.
Actually, I think that makes you a sane human being with a healthy dose of NPOV.  :-) Kim Bruning 14:10, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
You may be leaning toward the concept of Intelligent design. --WCFrancis 14:59, 5 September 2005 (UTC)--The Republican 23:54, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

I think that you may be a victim the political and cultural polarization that is common in America today. It certainly is possible to be a committed "evolutionist" while at the same time a religious person committed to a Christian or another theistic worldview. Many scientists hold strong religious beliefs and I certainly would put myself into this category. For a philosophical/theological perspective on this I suggest reading some of the philosophical work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who was at once an eminent paleontologist and a Jesuit Priest. Fr. Teilhard is considered to be one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the twentieth century (his writings are pretty hard going). I also suggest the book "Life's Solution" by Simon Conway Morris for a more Christian friendly perspective on evolution. Dr. Conway Morris is a Fellow of the Royal Society, ad hominem Chair in Evolutionary Palaeobiology at Cambridge University and is well known for his groundbreaking work on the Burgess Shale fossils and the Cambrian explosion. By the way, both of these thinkers are committed evolutionists and neither can be thought of as advocates of Creationism or its close cousin, Intelligent Design. 18:55, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Darwins' theory of sexual selection is downplayed and incorrectly catagorised here

You'd miss this important aspect of his theory if you blinked while reading the article. Where it is mentioned, it's in the section on Natural selection, which is defined as 'survival and reproduction as a result of the environment'; sexual selection does not fit into this definition. May I suggest that sexual selection requires a separate section? Tony 05:33, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

OK, if no one is going to comment, I'll write and insert a separate section on sexual selection soon. Tony 23:28, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

I think it's an important point to emphasize. According to our articles Natural selection and Sexual selection, ecological selection has to do with variable survival; sexual selection with variable reproductive success; and both are considered natural processes. --FOo 23:45, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Accuracy of Blanket Statement

Near the end of the second portion of the article, there is a statement that clearly implies that there is no scientific support for theories aside from evolution. This is inaccurate. Though many mainstream journals and scientists advocate the theory of evolution, there is a strong community which advocates other positions as well.

While I agree that this is not the page to explain those other beliefs in any detail, a statement claiming they essentially do not exist within scientific circles is simply incorrect.

There is no scientific support for theories other than evolution. There are a few people who believe otherwise, but the difference between 0 and 0.001% is so trivial that in effect there is none. There is one publication in a scientific journal in support of alternatives - one which was retracted by the journal's board. Biological abstracts indexes 360,000 biology papers a year. Over the 20+ years that a few people have been trying to craft a alternative, I'd guess that 4-5,000,000 papers have been published - even without the retraction, that's <0.000025% - the difference between that and "none" is so trivial that to mention it is misleading, because it gives it a weight that is a million-fold disproportionate. Guettarda 20:22, 19 September 2005 (UTC)
There is heaps of scientific support for Intelligent Design. Most Scientific Journals are too scared to publish any of this. Only a fraction of the biology papers that are published attempt to provide scientific support for evolution, so your percentage means nothing.RossNixon 01:18, 20 September 2005 (UTC)
Ross - that's the second time I've seen you make a comment on this page that is utterly, totally, and completely disconnected from reality. (the first time was, of course, this little gem about how Creationism is scientific and Evolution is not). Your completely fallacious comments aside, the reality of the situation is that it is exactly as Guettarda has described it - while they might disagree on the details, no reputable scientist disagrees with Evolution. [Hell, the very-well-publicized Kansas school board *could not* find a biologist willing to go on the record against evolution.] You'd be hard pressed to find a single biology curriculm in any reputable school that includes lamarckism, creationism, creation science, or intelligence design - except *possibly* for the pedagogical or historical merit of including it (as opposed to the scientific merit of it, of which it has none). →Raul654 01:30, 20 September 2005 (UTC)
Ross - we can only work with reality - the idea that there are "heaps of scientific support" is nonsense, as is the idea that scientific journals are "too scared". All experimental biology uses an evolutionary framework - biologists who work outside of an evolutionary framework would have to come up with their own, and publish it. Even Behe has not published anything in the biological literature which does not work within the evolutionary framework. Anyone is free to work outside of the assumptions of evolutionary biology, but they would be forced to come up with that framework. They haven't, which means that they either explicitly or implicitly accept the evolutionary framework. And since we are not mind readers, we can only go by the reality of their publications... Guettarda 03:01, 20 September 2005 (UTC)
I'd like to add my agreement too that evolution is completely accepted within the biological scientific community—there is no evidence for any other theory. It's not only within general biology; much of modern medicine, from cell-signaling pathways, to antibiotic development, is based on the framework of evolutionary theory. Of course, genetics and inherited diseases and such are intricately tied to the concept of evolution. — Knowledge Seeker 03:58, 20 September 2005 (UTC)


I've reverted User:Jlefler's version to that of User:Duncharris - I don't think the word 'vandalism' was called for in the circumstances. Ian Cairns 20:12, 19 September 2005 (UTC)