Since Darwin wrote his book, many people have challenged his theory. Now this does not mean these scientsts resorted to supporting creationism. What they realised was, was that Darwins theory of evolution was either completey flawed, wrong, incomplete etc, evolution is not in question to these scientists but the process or mechanism which brought about the evolution is in question - And has actually never been solved!, there is still a huge debate amongst scientists today for example, did evolution occur gradually or by leaps? What are the mechanisms of evolution? Many evolutionists do not agree with eachother!. These scientists have all put forward there own evolutionary theories opposed to Darwin.
NONE of these scientists are creationists, NONE of them are religious in any shape or form. Most are agnostics and atheists. And yes they oppose Darwins theory of evolution!
Pierre- Paul Grasse
All and I mean All of the scientists who argue about the details of the mechanisms of evolution are firm supporters of the Darwinian theory. The only opposition is from creationists. Punctuated Equilibrium which is what I assume you mean by the controversy about the rate of evolution was an idea put forward by Stephen J Gould as an adjustment and yet even he wrote articles stating his position as a supporter of Darwin's Theory of Evolution and expressing outrage when Creationists tried to use his work as a support for their denial of Darwinian Evolution.
Creationists have, as one of their standard debate tricks, the idea that if there is any debate about the details of evolution then there is a controversy about whether evolution happened. Newton proposed one theory of gravity and Einstein a different one - gravity still exists.
Teach the Controversy is one of the latest ploys of evolution deniers. Don't fall for it.
You must remember that evolution is both a fact and a theory. Evolution itself is not in question. The question (this is where the theory part comes into play) is what is the mechanism of evolution, as you said. There are several good theories. My preferred theory involves the relative stability of the environment. Maybe one day biologists will reach a consensus. Until then, I'm satisfied just knowing that evolution really happens, and it's not intelligently guided, except in the case of artificial selection. Also, I've done studies that seem to indicate that when an environment is relatively stable evolutionary change can be a very slow process, but if the environment becomes destabilized evolution can speed up in relative terms.
"You must remember that evolution is both a fact and a theory."
Anthony, I read court rulings in challenges to evolution where creationists attack evolution by saying it's only a theory.
In testimony by scientists responding to these creationist attacks, I've seen theory distinguished from fact this way: a theory is a general statement that is either supported or not supported by facts, and facts are the findings of research. This testimony is of course directed to judges and juries who are not trained in the methods of science.
I'm not intending to nitpick but would have written something like "evolution is both a reality and a theory".
But for the word must in You must remember, I would state my views the same way you state yours.
There may be limited inheritance of acquired traits.
However this isn't "opposition to Darwinism", it just means that Darwinism might be modified slightly.
At the time Darwin wrote there was no science of genetics—the experiments of Mendel were not known to the scientific community. When genetics was developed and combined with evolution, it resulted in the neo-Darwinian synthesis and strongly confirmed evolution. The notion that evolutionary theory is in any kind of crisis is a mistaken idea promoted by creationists because it suits their purpose. That there remain questions still to be answered is the case in every area of science, but the outlines of evolution as Darwin presented them have been more than adequately filled in by subsequent discoveries. Evolution is one of the most robust theories in science today.
" Evolution is one of the most robust theories in science today."
Very well said sir, the whole reply.
Let's put this is syllogistic form:
p1. Things which about which there are disagreement about details are false.
p2. There is disagreement about the details of evolution.
c. Evolution is false.
There is no fallacy of form here. However, p1 is clearly false, which means that any conclusions which follow from it are suspect. Think of it like this: Poets and philosophers have been trying to pin down exactly what love is, exactly what love means, for as long as humanity has been able to ask questions. No one can seem to agree about the details. Therefore love does not exist.
Taken a bit further we can even tease this apart a bit.
p1. Knowledge can be found were there is scientific consensus.
p2. Ignorance can be found were there is a lack of scientific consensus.
p3. There is a lack of consensus about the details of evolution.
p4. There is consensus about the broad concepts of evolution.
c1. We cannot say we know the details of evolution.
c2. We can say that we know the broad concepts of evolution.
To say anything other than this would be to make a composition fallacy.
A consequence of this line of thinking is that we must abandon the argument "nobody agrees on the nature of god, therefore god doesn't exist." It's a bad argument anyway, so I'm fine with throwing it out. A better argument would be "nobody agrees on the nature of god, therefore it is possible that nobody knows the nature of god and/or the nature of god may be unknowable."
I can add to the diversity of opinion here. I believe in evolution as the origin of living creatures. I am an atheist, not a creationist. But I see evolution as intelligent. Here are some reasons why.
1. I see in the universe only matter, and evolution; nothing else. I'm intelligent in ways matter cannot be. So for my intelligence I can find no other source than evolution.
2. Evolution is distinguished from matter in being creative, generating new species over time. I am creative, too. Here is one way in which evolution mirrors my intelligence. Or rather, in which I mirror evolution's intelligence: evolution was making new species long before I came along. Evolution is a logical source of my ability to generate novelty, to be creative.
3. The variety in species shows evolution to be vastly more creative than any human has yet been. I like to think of myself as tapping into that vast creative power. I like to think of all my mental powers as tapping into the intelligence required to evolve new species, and maintain living tissues. Looked at this way, evolutionary theory is the quest to understand the processes on which our mental processes are modeled, so we can augment them with what we learn of evolution's powers.
4. I refuse to regard conscious experience and my experience of being creative as supernatural. They are as real as my body is. But if I am not to regard them as supernatural, and if they cannot be accounted for through physics (because they are not physical themselves they can't have any physical effect and can't evolve), then evolution is the only remaining source. True, just because it can make my intelligence does not mean it is intelligent in the same way as I am, but it probably is in some way, and I don't have concepts for distinguishing how it could be intelligent from how I am. So until those concepts come along, I simply say, evolution is intelligent.
5. I think evolutionists often deny consciousness any reality to distinguish themselves from creationists, who give consciousness a supernatural source. Then, creationists win, because we all experience consciousness, and that we can be creative--we experience we are able to express our conscious impulses as corresponding behavior. By denying that, evolutionists make Darwinism conflict with common sense. I think, by allowing that evolution may be intelligent it is made stronger, and creationism weaker.
May evolutionists acknowledge the existence of conscious experience, that it can influence behavior and hence possibly play a part in evolution, that we can generate novelty in ways matter can't?
Interesting to read, Shaun, especially "The variety in species shows evolution to be vastly more creative than any human has yet been."
I'm awed by the realization that vast numbers of fertilizations do not survive to "birth".
I understand, I hope correctly, there to be three ways that fertilized eggs might not survive: "copying" errors, mutations, and environmental changes. Have you heard anything of what might be called "error rates" in the process?
Tom, I take up the two points you raised. Do we come to the same conclusions from them?
First, I question "vast numbers of fertilizations do not survive to 'birth'." Take sunflowers. First, seed locations are laid out in spirals presumably before the seeds themselves are generated. Then, seed development must be initiated at each location. In my observations of the flower heads, almost every location gets occupied by a developed seed--the spirals are very seldom interrupted by vacant locations. Then, they have to germinate--I recently planted some and almost all of them germinated, and all that did appeared equally vigorous.
I think what is more awesome, given all the things that could go wrong with such an enormously complicated process, is how few fertilizations fail to result in viable sunflower seeds. This is quite important for theorizing about the processes available to evolution. That's point one.
Point 2: About ways fertilized eggs might not survive--Shapiro in "Evolution: a View from the 21st Century" gives some details of the repair process involved in meiosis. It is extraordinarily rigorous, correcting something in excess of one in 100,000 errors. To me this means that surviving errors will more likely be due to flaws in this repair process than to relative proportions in the causes of the errors. In other words, the ways fertilized eggs might not survive are determined primarily by which kinds of errors are less likely to be repaired.
Conclusion: If repair was almost perfect, we'd be getting close to what we see with the sunflower survival rates. Then, errors in meiosis and embryo development would have a negligible effect on survival. This means that the differences between creatures natural selection will be selecting for are not the errors you list, including mutation, but specific flaws in the repair process.
That is, the repair process masks from selection such differences in individuals as mutations. Has population statistics taken these new data on the repair process into account?
Thank you, Shaun, I knew so little of nature's repair processes that I omitted mentioning them.
In "...vast numbers of fertilizations do not survive to 'birth'" I was thinking of fauna, not flora, but by wrapping birth in quote marks I added ambiguity.
Evolution is not a theory, but a set of observations. Darwin didn't revamp the data of evolution (other than pointing out some good examples). The Darwinian hypothesis was alteration of phenotypes by means of natural selection. That enjoyed remarkable success in testing and quickly became the most strongly supported theory in biology. With the (post Darwin) growing understanding of genetics it has become perhaps the strongest theory in all of science, and could be considered a 'law' if there were sufficient consensus on what that term means within a discipline that doesn't recognize absolutes.