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.
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