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Is evolutionary theory a house built on sand?

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Is evolutionary theory a house built on sand?

Postby cjackphilosophia » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:09 am

If the process of evolution is reproduction,
then evolution could not occur without it,
nor cause it to occur.

How does one get past this logic?

I have changed the post title from evolutionary mitosis to reflect the direction the posts have taken.
Last edited by cjackphilosophia on Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby biohazard » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:02 am

wat? :D

First there was reproduction, then there was evoltuion. So there was no need for evolution to cause reproduction to occur, because evolution can only come after there is something that reproduces!
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Postby cjackphilosophia » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:39 am

I'm looking at it philosophically. I will rephrase:

How did the very first simple cell without the capacity to reproduce itself, develop a mutation which enabled it to divide, if the only way mutations have been shown to occur are through cell reproduction. If the first cell was unable to reproduce itself, it dies and the cycle ends.
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Postby JackBean » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:57 am

the very first "cells" were not really cells.
That's like if you said, that some chemical reaction will die... can it?
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Postby biohazard » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:27 am

Indeed, like JackBean said, the first replicating entities are believed to not have been cells, but instead just some random molecules that happened to have a capacity to act as a template for a copy in correct conditions.

Because the copying of these molecules was quite random, some became better suitable for replication and thus there was already a kind of competition leading to the evolution of these molecules. It is likely that cells or cell-like replicating particles emerged only later, when these replicating molecules obtained a lipid envelope or other such membrane. By then, the evolutionary race was already up and running :)
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Postby cjackphilosophia » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:09 pm

So this process has been reproduced in science? Can chemical compounds reproduce themselves like organized cells? If not then terms that you guys used "believed" and "likely" sound no different than a creationist rant. This doesn't sound very concrete or scientific at all.
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Re: Evolutionary Mitosis?

Postby biohazard » Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:08 am

Well, it is somewhat hard to tell exactly what the environment was like a couple of billion years ago. Thus it has been a bit challenging to reproduce in a lab. Unlike in religion where unproven things are simply stated as a fact without any evidence, in science we must rely on the best available theories since nobody was there at the time to observe what really happened when life emerged...

Nobody said that the theory I explained in my previous post was 100% certain, but it is the best explanation we have at this point. It is possible that we will never know for sure. It is also possible that the same process can be reproduced in a lab one day. Only time will tell.
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Postby cjackphilosophia » Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:40 pm

What is the difference between facts w/o evidence or best available theories w/o evidence? So no one really knows. That's a fair answer, however many scientific theories are based on "we will never know for sure" and "best expanation". Best for whom? Current scientific theories? Once again, this seems no different than a teleological argument for the existance of God. Both are propped up by foundational theories that have yet to be proven. One philosophical in nature and one pseudo-scientific. It's as if Evolution is suddenly the metophoric equivelant to the Catholic Church, except Darwin is Christ and devoties will do anything to prop up current theories. Scientists should devote equal time to disproving Darwin as looking for further proof. It reminds me of the Philosophical time period of Thomas Aquinas when the only accepted theories were ones compatible with Christianity. Watch Ben Stein's movie Expelled. He bent Richard Dawkins over and had him admit to the possibility of ID, all because Dawkins overextended himself and lost his objectivity as a scientist. I love science, but many have become a cult of personality with regard to Darwinism and its no God inferences. Anyone on a blog with a God/noGod statement at the end of every post has an agenda.
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Postby JackBean » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:45 am

The difference is, that they believe without evidence and there is no way to believe in anything else, whereas in science you can have several theories and the one which fits best our present evidences, is taken to be true. But anyway it can be changed to something else.
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Re: Evolutionary Mitosis?

Postby Nuncscio » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:05 pm

I feel this might be a good inaugural post. I will answer point by point.

To begin, there can, by definition, be no fact which does not have evidence, at least not in the scientific world (I have seen the word stretched by those outside of science). Hypotheses begin with observations, and when fortified with data showing a particular trend, become theories. Theories are proven only in the sense that they are the best current explanation for a phenomenon based on the available data (in the case of Evolution, a plethora). It is understood that they are falsifiable, and can be overruled in favor of another theory if the data supports it. The “best explanations” are based on observations as well as experiments. But to become theory, observations and the hypotheses they give rise to are tested rigorously. Scientists do not hold theories as ideologies; while a theory such as evolution might be used as a framework for much of the work scientists do (it has been said to be the cornerstone of modern biology), it is understood that if current understanding does not match up with data, further investigation is needed or a new theory may need to be proposed. This is often the case in some of biology’s “hottest” growing fields, such as developmental biology.

I was very disappointed in Expelled. I think Roger Ebert put it best:

“This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions, segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, etc.”

Though Ebert is no scientist, as a scientist I can attest that he was right-on in his analysis. I almost caught myself laughing at my former perception of Mr. Stein, before realizing how misleading he was being toward his target audience. I remember the interview with Professor Dawkins very well. Nothing Dawnkins said was in support of ID, and it was all very accurate. It is only when Stein’s voice cuts over the footage that an incorrect assertion is made. It is clear Stein is doing his best to misunderstand Dawkins, and to twist his words.

But what you are picking at is Abiogenesis, the study of the origin of life on Earth. There is a great deal of research and interest in this field today. I suggest you read some studies in abiogenesis which may enlighten you. Whatever uncertainties there may be in how life began, these uncertainties are only relevant to the history of evolution, not the theory itself. The theory is as strong as ever, even without a good explanation for how life began.
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Re:

Postby firechild » Mon Feb 08, 2010 2:02 am

cjackphilosophia wrote:I'm looking at it philosophically. I will rephrase:

How did the very first simple cell without the capacity to reproduce itself, develop a mutation which enabled it to divide, if the only way mutations have been shown to occur are through cell reproduction. If the first cell was unable to reproduce itself, it dies and the cycle ends.


Firstly, evolution has nothing to say on abiogenesis. Whether the first life was created by a greater being, came to be via abiogenesis or was dropped here by aliens, evolutionary theory does not change, it simply deals with 'descent with modification'. Creationists often believe that relying on the lack of evidence for abiogenesis or even discrediting the big bang theory will somehow disprove evolution but evolution theory stands strong with or without these other theories.

The first replication was RNA self replication. This was a precursor to life but was not the first living entity. RNA is simply a molecule that will replicate under the right conditions. The conditions found on earth 4.5 billion years ago are extremely difficult to replicate, and even more difficult to keep sterile. Bacteria will destroy simple RNA strands.
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Re:

Postby biohazard » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:31 am

cjackphilosophia wrote:What is the difference between facts w/o evidence or best available theories w/o evidence? So no one really knows. ...


Oh, but we have plenty of evidence of evolution - unlike of, say, stuff happening in the bible. We just do not have direct evidence of what happened when life emerged. But evolution happens all the time and it can be scientifically measured. We use that evidence to estimate how things were at an earlier point of time.

Let me give you two examples: evolution and gravitation.

We have good evidence on both: species evolve and things fall down when dropped. We have a very good insight of the mechanics of both. But we do not know how either of them begun - life or gravity. Still, people generally are happy to accept whatever explanations the scientists have for gravity. Have you ever noticed that the mechanics of garvity are based on the theory of general realtivity? How gravity works and has emerged is just a theory, just like there is a theory of evolution and theories of the origin of life.

Evolution and its mechanics (including the beginning of life) are actually very simple and straightforward things when compared to phenomena such as gravitation. Almost all of the fundamental principles of the evolutionary process can be explained in simple terms easy enough for anyone to understand, but scientists still cannot tell you why and how an atom in the moon and an atom in your body are able to pull each other towards themselves. There are hunderds of thousands of kilometres between them, yet they still do it. Yet people have no problems accepting the theories concerning things like gravity, no matter how unbeliavable they seem at first thought. Also, gravity and theories related to it are much more disputed among scientists than evolution, even though gravity is a phenomenon we can easily detect and measure in everyday life.

The only reason why evolution has problems in convincing people in the western world is christianity. There just isn't anything that contradicts gravity in the bible...

Finally, it is well possible that we never find out exactly how life begun. Or how gravity begun. So, what is left? Scientific theories!
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