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January 25, 2009

Science backs evolutionary theory

Jared Bartels (1/17, Letters, “Educational ideologies”) suggests “progressive ideology” is at the root of several educational problems: “moral relativism” being taught versus “character education,” the “self-esteem movement,” and the teaching of evolutionary theory “as scientific fact.”

I wonder how many teachers actually teach “moral relativism” or accept “two plus two equals five” as “a good answer.” I imagine Mr. Bartels’ concern is unfounded. But I do agree with him on one point: Teaching evolutionary theory as fact is incorrect. Students should understand that a scientific theory is not a fact but a well-tested concept that explains a wide range of observations.

Evolutionary theory is so fundamental to the life sciences that in 2009, the Year of Science, the nation is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its publication and Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.

Evolutionary theory is not “progressive ideology,” Mr. Bartels. It’s science.

Liz Craig
Roeland Park

Comments

Engineer

PUB 17/CRD
Then there is the old question: How did life start?

JUNGLE JACK

"Pray tell, just what are these natural laws "that prevent natural selection from leading to evolution"?"

... mostly DNA and genetics. The more that is learned about what makes us what we are - the more evident are the limitations of "change within kinds".

JUNGLE JACK

"Pray tell, just what are these natural laws "that prevent natural selection from leading to evolution"?"

... mostly the limits of DNA and genetics. The more that is learned about what makes us what we are, the more obvious the limits there are to "change within kinds".

CRD

But Jungle, you said:

"Unfortunately there are many natural laws in place to prevent this - just like those that prevent natural selection from leading to evolution."

Pray tell, just what are these natural laws "that prevent natural selection from leading to evolution"?

Engineer

Pub 17
I've just got to repeat "There simply is no explanation of how a unicellular organism changed into a multicultural one or how an invertebrate changed into a vertebrate". I have read texts looking for an answer to this and have found nothing more enlightening than "in the next layer of silt the fossils changed".

jack

jj: Ain't there room for both of us? Simply put, if you go back far enough, something had to say, "GO!"

At the same time, if humans were "intelligently designed", the designer was extremely lazy. Took the blue print for a four legged critter, turned the hips 90 degrees and said, "There you go." I would think more care would have gone into the design if we were meant to be the perfect, or even the final, model.

Of course this all begs the question:

If Neadertals, etc were the Model Ts and Model As, could be possibly be the Edsel, or more likly a Falcon? And, if so, how long does the designer put up with a failed design before taking leftover Falcon parts and trying to build a Mustang?

JUNGLE JACK

"NOT POSSIBLE via evolution, except that, oops, there WERE transitional forms."

.. please show me a link to the proof of these transitional forms.

BTW - it's not just the bombardier beetle that makes evolution hard to swallow - but the many random mutations that would have to happen in cooperation with one another to allow ANY major wholesale additions to a lifeforms structure (eyes, limbs etc.).

... yes, crd - it's been a while.

Pub 17

Sure there is, Engineer. Remember Bomby the Bombardier Beetle? The creationists thought they had a hot one: a beetle that mixes two chemicals in its tush to squirt dilute hydrochloric acid, or something, at its prey (resulting in a cute l'il comic book to present the concept to kids). NOT POSSIBLE via evolution, except that, oops, there WERE transitional forms. Y'all got to stop thinking of species as being sharply defined entries in an encyclopedia.

Engineer

vPub 17
There simply is no explanation of how a unicellular organism changed into a multicultural one or how an invertebrate changed into a vertebrate.

CRD

ya miss me, jj?

JUNGLE JACK

CRD? ... is that really you?

CRD

"Unfortunately there are many natural laws in place to prevent this - just like those that prevent natural selection from leading to evolution."

What are you smoking, jungle?

JUNGLE JACK

Pub - yes, natural selection takes place. But it takes a great deal more than simple natural selection (which leads to extinction) to get from "microbes to man".

By your reasoning, since I can travel from my house to the store on my bicycle - I should be able to get to the moon on that same conveyance if given enough time and endless chances.
Unfortunately there are many natural laws in place to prevent this - just like those that prevent natural selection from leading to evolution.

Pub 17

Engineer--
So what's the problem? The fact that we have names for critters means nothing to the critters. Calling something a species is for OUR convenience in modeling reality; the transitions between one era and one species and the next aren't perfectly smooth and fully populated from the fossil record, but they don't tend to discredit a hypothesis that natural selection is taking place and clearing out the less, not fit, Jungle Jack, but fit and fecund. (I.e., an elephant is vastly more fit than a cockroach, but the cockroach breeds circles around the elephant.)

Hey, the Pope doesn't have any problem with evolutionary models, why should you?

JUNGLE JACK

"So settle it once and for all, did dinosaurs and man walk the earth at the same time period?"

... impossible to prove one way or the other. Any answer would be opinion.

Engineer

Pub 17
I agree with JJ that what you are talking about is change within a species. That is what I thought about Darwin's "ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES" when I first read it so many years ago. To me it has never explained the change to another species, only the modification within a species. On the other hand I have always thought that if there was omniscience involved, surely a better job could have been done.

solomon

JJ,

So settle it once and for all, did dinosaurs and man walk the earth at the same time period?

JUNGLE JACK

Pub - what you describe is not evolution - but natural selection, or "survival of the fittest". Simply because those life forms that contained a recessive trait that turned out to be optimal due to changing conditions and eventually became the norm - is not an example of evolution.

"Evolution is a story, based on fossil records,..."

No, evolution is a theory that was expected (by Darwin)to be verified in the fossil record.
Instead we see an "explosion of life" and variations and kinds of species becoming less varied and extinct - just like the creation model would dictate.

Pub 17

There's not only a scientific explanation, there's a mathematical algorithm. Briefly, given an organism's native foraging range, there's a certain amount of calories that can be harvested from that range. Eventually the range is maxed out, not in short-run terms but in long-run terms, with full discounting done for periodic variation.

The implication is that the organisms inside that range get pushed to a limit whereby with no "thinking" required they either act in an absolutely optimal way or they get cleared from the range, as do their possible descendants. Any organism with the slightest PHYSICAL (versus behavioral) advantage in terms of the range goes to the head of the class, and on the next downward cyclical variation in the range the organisms at the other end of the scale get cleared. Very, very similar to the one-in-a-hundred bug that's resistant to DDT being the only one left to breed, so you get, not fewer bugs net, but a new breed of superbugs.

Not a toughie, Engineer. It's hard to conceive a universe in which evolution DOESN'T happen.

Engineer

There is just a very great deal that we do not know and do not understand. Evolution is a story, based on fossil records, but without a scientific explanation of how or why it happened.

 
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