Skip to comments.Darwin's theory of gradual evolution not supported by geological history, scientist concludes
Posted on 11/12/2010 8:17:58 PM PST by SunkenCiv
Charles Darwin's theory of gradual evolution is not supported by geological history, New York University Geologist Michael Rampino concludes in an essay in the journal Historical Biology. In fact, Rampino notes that a more accurate theory of gradual evolution, positing that long periods of evolutionary stability are disrupted by catastrophic mass extinctions of life, was put forth by Scottish horticulturalist Patrick Matthew prior to Darwin's published work on the topic...
When Darwin published his Origin of Species nearly three decades later, he explicitly rejected the role of catastrophic change in natural selection: "The old notion of all the inhabitants of the Earth having been swept away by catastrophes at successive periods is very generally given up," he wrote. Instead, Darwin outlined a theory of evolution based on the ongoing struggle for survival among individuals within populations of existing species. This process of natural selection, he argued, should lead to gradual changes in the characteristics of surviving organisms.
However, as Rampino notes, geological history is now commonly understood to be marked by long periods of stability punctuated by major ecological changes that occur both episodically and rapidly, casting doubt on Darwin's theory that "most evolutionary change was accomplished very gradually by competition between organisms and by becoming better adapted to a relatively stable environment."
"Matthew's contribution was largely ignored at the time, and, with few exceptions, generally merits only a footnote in modern discussions of the discovery of natural selection," Rampino concludes. "Others have said that Matthew's thesis was published in too obscure a place to be noticed by the scientific community, or that the idea was so far ahead of its time that it could not be connected to generally accepted knowledge. As a result, his discovery was consigned to the dustbin of premature and unappreciated scientific ideas."
(Excerpt) Read more at physorg.com ...
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Actually, most modern scientists no longer consider Darwin’s specific evolutionary model to be valid anymore, and haven’t for some time. The most recent discoveries (within the last 20-30 years or so) tend to support the “punctuated equilibrium” theory, where long periods of relative stasis are overturned by dramatic shifts in morphology over short periods of time.
Good evening Freepers!
They were talking about the punctuated equilibrium theory many years ago. It makes sense. CHANGE drives evolution. When things are relatively stable, there is no biological incentive favoring new forms.
Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Darwin actually acknowledge evidence of catastrophic events in the geologic record but was either unable or unwilling to address their potential impact on "species"??? IOW, he just sortof ignored it?
“They were talking about the punctuated equilibrium theory many years ago. It makes sense. CHANGE drives evolution. When things are relatively stable, there is no biological incentive favoring new forms.”
True. To give a few examples, the Carboniferous Period was known as the Age of Amphibians. A warm climate with lush swamps and giant dragonflies. When the Permian Period came, conditions got cold and dry, the swamps vanished, and most amphibians went extinct. Reptiles then took over and ruled the Earth for millions of years. Mammals came along, but they were small, rodent-like scavengers. Only after the great big asteroid came and obliterated dinosaurs did mammal evolution take off.
Within recorded history we have earthquakes, volcanoes, lightning storms and every other sort of thing and we never see new animals on account of any such so that you'd figure you'd need to be talking about the sort of catastrophes you read about in the Bible to even start to think along such lines; but even Velikovsky and his followers were never talking about more than a dozen or so such catastrophes in the planet's history.
Walter Remine notes that no version of evolution hangs together logically at this point so that what evolutionists generally try to serve up is a "smorgasbord" (Remine's term) of bits and pieces from each of them.
The original Darwinian vision of gradualistic evolution is flatly refuted by the fossil record (Darwinian evolution demanded that the vast bulk of ALL fossils be intermediates) and by the findings of population genetics, particularly the Haldane dilemma and the impossible time requirements for spreading genetic changes through any sizeable herd of animals.
Consider what Gould and other punk-eekers are saying. Punc-eek amounts to a claim that all meaningful evolutionary change takes place in peripheral areas, amongst tiny groups of animals which develop some genetic advantage, and then move out and overwhelm, outcompete, and replace the larger herds. They are claiming that this eliminates the need to spread genetic change through any sizeable herd of animals and, at the same time, is why we never find intermediate fossils (since there are never enough of these CHANGELINGS to leave fossil evidence).
Obvious problems with punctuated equilibria include, minimally:
1. It is a pure pseudoscience seeking to explain and actually be proved by a lack of evidence rather than by evidence (all the missing intermediate fossils). Similarly, Cotton Mather claimed that the fact that nobody had ever seen or heard a witch was proof they were there (if you could SEE them, they wouldn't BE witches...) This kind of logic is less inhibiting than the logic they used to teach in American schools.
2. PE amounts to a claim that inbreeding is the most major source of genetic advancement in the world. Apparently Steve Gould never saw Deliverance...
3. PE requires these tiny peripheral groups to conquer vastly larger groups of animals millions if not billions of times, which is like requiring Custer to win at the little Big Horn every day, for millions of years.
4. PE requires an eternal victory of animals specifically adapted to localized and parochial conditions over animals which are globally adapted, which never happens in real life.
5. For any number of reasons, you need a minimal population of any animal to be viable. This is before the tiny group even gets started in overwhelming the vast herds. A number of American species such as the heath hen became non-viable when their numbers were reduced to a few thousand; at that point, any stroke of bad luck at all, a hard winter, a skewed sex ratio in one generation, a disease of some sort, and it's all over. The heath hen was fine as long as it was spread out over the East coast of the U.S. The point at which it got penned into one of these "peripheral" areas which Gould and Eldredge see as the salvation for evolutionism, it was all over.
The sort of things noted in items 3 and 5 are generally referred to as the "gambler's problem", in this case, the problem facing the tiny group of "peripheral" animals being similar to that facing a gambler trying to beat the house in blackjack or roulette; the house could lose many hands of cards or rolls of the dice without flinching, and the globally-adapted species spread out over a continent could withstand just about anything short of a continental-scale catastrophe without going extinct, while two or three bad rolls of the dice will bankrupt the gambler, and any combination of two or three strokes of bad luck will wipe out the "peripheral" species. Gould's basic method of handling this problem is to ignore it.
And there's one other thing which should be obvious to anybody attempting to read through Gould and Eldridge's BS:
They are claiming that at certain times, amongst tiny groups of animals living in peripheral areas, a "speciation event(TM)" happens, and THEN the rest of it takes place. In other words, they are saying:
ASSUMING that Abracadabra-Shazaam(TM) happens, then the rest of the business proceeds as we have described in our scholarly discourse above!
Again, Gould and Eldridge require that the Abracadabra-Shazaam(TM) happen not just once, but countless billions of times, i.e. at least once for every kind of complex creature which has ever walked the Earth. They do not specify whether this amounts to the same Abracadabra-Shazaam each time, or a different kind of Abracadabra-Shazaam for each creature.
Evolution in the general sense means change, so of course it “works”. Change goes on constantly. From the perspective of Darwinism, which is natural selection as the origin of species, no, Darwin’s version of evolution doesn’t work at all. I’ve said so plenty of times, including on FR.
Catastrophe can be and has been the agent of extinction. There have been many catastrophes, including literally millions of volcanic eruptions (which are local catastrophes, with some broader, temporary microclimate effects); the full number of impacts over 4.5 billion years will probably never be known, but it is in the thousands or tens of thousands, with a number of those resulting in broad, sometimes worldwide effects. That number is perhaps a hundred, perhaps somewhat more; the major impact events (and they were probably a short series of impacts by pieces of a former single object, a la SL-9 on Jupiter) which terminate each paleontological layer and brought on mass extinction, number a dozen or so.
Velikovsky was only looking at a window of a few thousand years, during which time a related series of planetary encounters occurred, during historical times.
So, Stephen J Gould is right...... the evolutionary process can involve punctuated equilibrium.
That is, an evolutionary flow has fluctuation and is not constrained by a straight jacketed steady state imposed by some.
Oh yes, one more thing....... uncertainty is OK. It is not necessary to be dogmatically certain
That’s where the guy is coming from. But most modern scientists do consider Darwin to be valid, but as a foundation, upon which other stuff (including p.e.) has been built. Once the Muzzies burn down England that will finally die out.
“Face it, there’s no version of evolution which works.”
So you assert that no species evolve?
I disagree - but agree that more than 150 years ago when Darwin postulated his theory he certainly didn’t have a complete understanding of what would be discovered in the future.
It is fascinating that folks still make such strong proclamations busting Darwin’s chops without acknowledging that you’re still talking -nay, fixating about him after 150 years, and that is quite an accomplishment. He has advanced our understanding of biology immensely by advancing his theory, no matter how much of a beating it has taken within science and religious groups - it still stands as a great work that was presented to the world to prove or disprove.
Usually folks that still flog Darwin after 150 years are Creationists. Does that describe you?
Well, for example, he noted that the continent of South America appeared to have been tipped toward the east, leaving the fracture lines, indicating it had happened (geologically) recently — then stated how remarkable gradual change can be. :’)
“steady, gradual progress” was an idealistic - and idiotic - concept from the start.
Look at a graph of the activity during your day, week, year, or life - there’s no steady slope, it’s all a series of spikes with long periods of sameness in-between.
Isn’t this like saying that Newton’s theory of gravity is no longer supported by modern quantum physicists? Doesn’t negate what Newton supported, simply adds more knowledge about the overall subject.
Other than for what you'd call microevolution which I suspect could in fact be brought about during major catastrophes, I view that as correct. Our living world and the RNA/DNA system it's based on are driven by information and only some sort of a deliberate engineering or re-engineering event could create the information needed for some new kind of animal, whether from ex nihilo or starting with an existing animal of some other sort I don't see that it matters.
“Our living world and the RNA/DNA system it’s based on are driven by information and only some sort of a deliberate engineering or re-engineering event could create the information needed for some new kind of animal, whether from ex nihilo or starting with an existing animal of some other sort I don’t see that it matters.”
This may be true, or may not. This is generally a view espoused “creation science”. If you believe in “ex nihilo” creation as in Genesis, or a deliberate act by, say, space aliens to modify an existing animal that is fine, but for you to assert that Darwin is completely wrong with the Theory of Evolution is not justifiable - since you do not have the ability to directly refute it with verifiable facts. You are at best positing a contrary Theory.
This is again a characteristic of Creationist argument - to espouse certainty to the unknowable (the very definition of faith). This is fine, but it is not scientific certainty. Darwin posited a Theory - not a certainty - a mistake you and many people make is that it must never change, or that if one small part is incorrect it is all incorrect (again - a characteristic of Creationist Christianity - the Bible is all true, or none of it is true).
I am not criticizing Creationism as an element of faith - I do not believe it as a matter of science, but it is consistent if you keep it in the realm of faith. It is when attempts are made to mix certainty of faith to conclude scientific certainty that I find fault.
I think you are making this mistake, which is why I asked previously if you were of Creationist belief.
“steady, gradual progress was an idealistic - and idiotic - concept from the start.”
You compare “steady gradual progress” as in some applications of the Theory of Evolution over millions of years to a graph of your activity during day, week, year, life and draw a conclusion to refute “steady, gradual progress”?
You need to do better than that to be taken seriously.
Really??!! I wasn't aware of that; I've just GOT to look into it. The whole continent, eh...?
...then stated how remarkable gradual change can be.
Just an aside: Does anyone else think they'll puke if they hear the term "evolution" applied one more time to the more likely "adaption" by species? To me evolution implies a more or less steady advancement of organisms and we KNOW that's impossible since we still have Dimtards. Sometimes I want to hurl chunks!
Usually folks that still flog Darwin after 150 years are Creationists.
Seems that has become less and less true over the last few decades as the capability of science(such as it is) has caught up with the theory -- and found it lacking. In any case and NOT having read Darwin's work, I think he has gotten a bad rap for his "theory", in that others that followed took his theory and tried to place it in the realm of settled science, sortof like algore's warming machine. Lyle and others should be exhumed and hanged! ;^)
What I meant was, unlike mechanical systems which can operate steadily for long periods (e.g., computers, power turbines, etc), biological systems - and that’s what we’re talking about, when we’re talking evolution - seem to go at varying rates of activity whether on a short-term or long-term basis.
Has anyone ever explained WHY animals are busy for a while, then need sleep? Yet that is the micro-pattern everywhere in Nature.
I suggest that that, by logical deduction, that trend can be extrapolated macroscopically - hence my argument against “steady, gradual progress”.
If you’ve got a better rationalization, let’s hear it.
“If youve got a better rationalization, lets hear it.”
I can buy into your point now, at least a little bit. The fact that simple organisms have relatively little DNA and with increasing complexity in DNA following increasing organism complexity is another point that points to gradual evolution - if the step is too big, the organism cannot reproduce successfully.
I don’t think this guy is refuting the theory of evolution with his findings, but that may just be my interpretation.
I wanna throw up when I see bozos in other scientific fields use “evolution” for something else, such as the climate scaremongers using it for the freakin’ weather, etc etc.
Call me cynical but I'm convinced that the use of the term "evolve" and its various tenses by scientists is low hanging fruit for those wishing to get published. Oddly enough and I gather like you, I've noticed the term(s) used in the oddest places. We may be on to something here Civ!!!
I've frequently noticed twofers in some of their, er, work; like "The evolution of climate change" or somesuch. Threefers shouldn't be much of a challenge for any "scientist" mining for grant gold. Fourfers could be a stretch but no self-respecting grant miner should overlook the potential for hitting pay dirt -- maybe in a single sentence. For example, ahem, "The evolution of the endangered Spotted Farting Darter has been degraded by the effects of climate change and/or habitat loss because eeevil capatalists insist on using fossil fuels while refusing to install renewable energy sources, therefore stomping Mother Earth flatter than a pancake with their enormous carbon footprint! A ninefer; not bad. Beat that!
Anyhow, I get the impression that publishers stick these essays(?) into their word processors and hit the search/count button for hot phrases. Various terms are probably assigned different weights depending on the reviewers preferences. Sortof like a credit score; the higher the better.
Instead of catastrophe, Gould used (I guess he coined) “diastrophe”, which is the punctuation mark in his punctuated equilibria.