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Definitions of Evolution

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago

Definitions of Evolution Termology

 

I find that there are a variety of words and terms used in the discussion of evolution that can be confusing and easily misunderstood. Consider these three terms: evolution, theory of evolution and evolutionism. None are the same and they should not be used interchangeably. Another stickler is the science definitions of 'theory' and 'law'.

 

Here are meanings and/or context for terms used in discussing evolution issues that the average reader may be unsure of. The entries are selected from fairly extensive web searches to obtain the best explanation.

 

After many, many hours in constructing this website, I feel that a more appropriate term for the issues is "Origin Theories". You will find the definition below.

 

For each term in this glossary, I will provide the web page title, author, web location and anything near to a publication date if they are available.

  • Actual copied text is in black
  • My comments are in blue

 


Big Bang

Here is a great one! Who has not heard of the Big Bang? But what is it? Lets take a look.

 

Title: The Big Bang Theory: Representation of the universe according to inflationary cosmology.

Web Location: http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/academy/universe/b_bang.html

Date: Updated December 2, 1997

The Big Bang Theory is the dominant scientific theory about the origin of the universe. According to the big bang, the universe was created sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter and in all directions.

   In 1927, the Belgian priest Georges Lemaître was the first to propose that the universe began with the explosion of a primeval atom. His proposal came after observing the red shift in distant nebulas by astronomers to a model of the universe based on relativity. Years later, Edwin Hubble found experimental evidence to help justify Lemaître's theory. He found that distant galaxies in every direction are going away from us with speeds proportional to their distance.

   The big bang was initially suggested because it explains why distant galaxies are traveling away from us at great speeds. The theory also predicts the existence of cosmic background radiation (the glow left over from the explosion itself). The Big Bang Theory received its strongest confirmation when this radiation was discovered in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, who later won the Nobel Prize for this discovery.

   Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it probably will never be proved; consequentially, leaving a number of tough, unanswered questions.

Genesis 1:1 (RSV): "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." Above: "explosion of a primeval atom". Now, what is that? It gets sticker and sticker. John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God...” Now which is more real, the primeval atom or the Word? We can't measure either!

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Biological Evolution

  • Title: What is Evolution?
  • Written by Laurence Moran, Last Updated January 22, 1993
  • Web Location: [http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-definition.html]

Most non-scientists seem to be quite confused about precise definitions of biological evolution. Such confusion is due in large part to the inability of scientists to communicate effectively to the general public and also to confusion among scientists themselves about how to define such an important term. When discussing evolution it is important to distinguish between the existence of evolution and various theories about the mechanism of evolution. And when referring to the existence of evolution it is important to have a clear definition in mind. What exactly do biologists mean when they say that they have observed evolution or that humans and chimps have evolved from a common ancestor?

 

One of the most respected evolutionary biologists has defined biological evolution as follows:

"In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution ... is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions." - Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986

It is important to note that biological evolution refers to populations and not to individuals and that the changes must be passed on to the next generation. In practice this means that:

Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.

 

This is a good working scientific definition of evolution; one that can be used to distinguish between evolution and similar changes that are not evolution. Another common short definition of evolution can be found in many textbooks:

"In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next." - Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology, 5th ed. 1989 Worth Publishers, p.974

 

One can quibble about the accuracy of such a definition (and we have often quibbled on these newsgroups) but it also conveys the essence of what evolution really is. When biologists say that they have observed evolution, they mean that they have detected a change in the frequency of genes in a population. (Often the genetic change is inferred from phenotypic changes that are heritable.) When biologists say that humans and chimps have evolved from a common ancestor they mean that there have been successive heritable changes in the two separated populations since they became isolated.

   Unfortunately the common definitions of evolution outside of the scientific community are different. For example, in the Oxford Concise Science Dictionary we find the following definition:

"evolution: The gradual process by which the present diversity of plant and animal life arose from the earliest and most primitive organisms, which is believed to have been continuing for the past 3000 million years."

 

This is inexcusable for a dictionary of science. Not only does this definition exclude prokaryotes, protozoa, and fungi, but it specifically includes a term "gradual process" which should not be part of the definition. More importantly the definition seems to refer more to the history of evolution than to evolution itself. Using this definition it is possible to debate whether evolution is still occurring, but the definition provides no easy way of distinguishing evolution from other processes. For example, is the increase in height among Caucasians over the past several hundred years an example of evolution? Are the color changes in the peppered moth population examples of evolution? This is not a scientific definition.

Standard dictionaries are even worse.

"evolution: ...the doctrine according to which higher forms of life have gradually arisen out of lower.." - Chambers

"evolution: ...the development of a species, organism, or organ from its original or primitive state to its present or specialized state; phylogeny or ontogeny" - Webster's

 

These definitions are simply wrong. Unfortunately it is common for non-scientists to enter into a discussion about evolution with such a definition in mind. This often leads to fruitless debate since the experts are thinking about evolution from a different perspective. When someone claims that they don't believe in evolution they cannot be referring to an acceptable scientific definition of evolution because that would be denying something which is easy to demonstrate. It would be like saying that they don't believe in gravity!

   Recently I read a statement from a creationist who claimed that scientists are being dishonest when they talk about evolution. This person believed that evolution was being misrepresented to the public. The real problem is that the public, and creationists, do not understand what evolution is all about. This person's definition of evolution was very different from the common scientific definition and as a consequence he was unable to understand what evolutionary biology really meant. This is the same person who claimed that one could not "believe" in evolution and still be religious! But once we realize that evolution is simply "a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations" it seems a little silly to pretend that this excludes religion!

   Scientists such as myself must share the blame for the lack of public understanding of science. We need to work harder to convey the correct information. Sometimes we don't succeed very well but that does not mean that we are dishonest. On the other hand, the general public, and creationists in particular, need to also work a little harder in order to understand science. Reading a textbook would help.

Note that our author uses two terms,"biological evolution" and "evolutionary biology". Are these the same?

I find the definitions Mr. Moran likes are innocuous while those he dislikes are of the type that are at issue today. Perhaps it would be better to find definitions for "Theory of Evolution".

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Biological Evolution (2)

 

Biography: “Austin Reed Cline is actively involved in educating people about atheism and secular humanism on the Internet. This site exists to provide people with information on atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, philosophy and religion. “

 

“Evolution can be a confusing term because it is used in more than one way. Many people in the general population have developed an incorrect understanding of evolution for a number of reasons. One is the misinformation spread by creationists — by misrepresenting evolution, they may hope that it will be easier to get people to disregard it. Another is simple ignorance of the topic itself and the specific ways in which science uses certain terminology.

Because evolution is so complex, however, it is important to get a handle on the different ways in which the term can be used. There are, of course, broader uses — we can talk about the evolution of the universe or the evolution of the planet Earth. In such cases, evolution simply refers to change over time, but that isn’t what concerns us here.

 

Biology, in contrast, uses the term evolution a bit more specifically. At its most basic, evolution in biology can be used to refer either to the change in the gene pool of a population over time or to the concept of descent with modification. Here are some examples from basic biology texts:

“In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.” Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology, 5th ed. 1989.

“Biological evolution ...is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual.” Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, 1986.

 

The two definitions look a bit different, but they are expressing similar things — the first is to a large extent more technical. An allele is a particular form of a gene and if a single gene is responsible for eye color, then one allele is for brown eyes, another allele is for blue eyes, and so on.

   So, if the frequency of the allele for blue eyes changes in a population over time, that means that evolution has taken place. This may not seem like a very significant step in evolution, but the fact of the matter is most evolutionary steps are quite small — large changes are the result of many, many smaller steps.

   The second common use of the term evolution within biology is

for the concept of common descent, the idea that all living beings are descended from a common ancestor.

This typically occurs in the context of allele frequencies changing in populations over time, but there are also other factors as well. Thus, “change in allele frequency over time” is a narrow and technical definition of evolution while “descent with modification” is a broader understanding. “

Mr. Cline steps on the toes of Mr. Moran with his second definition. So who is correct and what is the real definition of "biological evolution"?

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Evolution (Biology)

  • Randon House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged
  • Hardback, 1983
  • ISBN 0-394-50050-4

Biology Change in a gene pool in a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection and genetic drift.

Note the new terms! Are you familiar with 'genetic drift'?

 

Geologic Time Scale

This term came from state and/or district science standards. After about 20 attempts, I found the interesting text below, bringing up concerns about the entire concept:

"Well, the earth's crust consists of many layers of sedimentary rock (called "strata"). Geologists assume that each layer represents a long period of time, typically millions of years. This is actually a secondary assumption based upon the primary assumption of Uniformitarianism. These layers of sedimentary rock contain billions of fossil remains and some of these fossils are unique to certain layers. The layers are catalogued and arbitrarily arranged into a specific order (not necessarily the order in which they are found). This order reflects the assumption of macro-evolution (the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor). The creatures thought to have evolved first are considered to be the oldest and are thus placed at the bottom of the column of layers. The creatures thought to have evolved later are higher up and so on. This has led many competent, accredited scientists to object, as this poses a circular argument: how can evolution be the basis for geologic conclusions while geology is taught as the basic evidence for evolution? "Are the authorities maintaining on the one hand, that evolution is documented by geology and, on the other hand, that geology is documented by evolution? Isn't this a circular argument?" (Larry Azar, "Biologists, Help!" Bioscience, vol. 28, November 1978, p. 714).

A variety of fossils from each layer of strata have been chosen to be what are called "index fossils". Index fossils are how we date the sedimentary rock layers. Paleontologists assume the age of an index fossil by the stage of evolutionary history the fossil is assumed to be in. They guess how long it would take for one kind of life to evolve into another kind of life and then date the fossils and rocks accordingly. Once again, this is a circular argument. "And this poses something of a problem: If we date the rocks by the fossils, how can we then turn around and talk about the patterns of evolutionary change through time in the fossil record?" (Niles Eldridge, Time Frames, 1985, p. 52)"

I have found other references to micro/macro- evolution. The second is to describe the slow changing, entirely through nature, of new species from old, all species from an original life form. It is with macro-evolution that we have the main problem. Very much theory and riding on the back of micro-evolution for authority.

 

The 'circular argument' point is seriously true. The age of the earth is speculative so the time spans in the geologic time scale are not empirically verified. Thus the current tables of this scale could be passing out some very erroneous information.

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Fossil Record

Ever since recorded history began, and probably before, people have found pieces of rock and other hard material with indentations from the remains of dead organisms. These are called fossils, and the totality of these objects and their placement in rock formations is referred to as the fossil record.

 

The fossil record is one of the primary sources of data relevant to the study of evolution. Scientists examine fossils in order to understand the process of evolution and the way particular species have evolved. (See timeline of evolution).

 

William Smith (1769-1839), an English canal engineer, observed that rocks of different ages (based on the law of superposition) preserved different assemblages of fossils, and that these assemblages succeeded one another in a regular and determinable order. He observed that rocks from distant locations could be correlated based on the fossils they contained. He termed this the principle of faunal succession.

 

Smith, who preceded Charles Darwin, was unaware of biological evolution and did not know why faunal succession occurred. Biological evolution explains why faunal succession exists: as different organisms evolve, change and go extinct, they leave behind fossils. Faunal succession was one of the chief pieces of evidence cited by Darwin that biological evolution had occurred.

 

The fossil record and faunal succession form the basis of the science of biostratigraphy or determining the age of rocks based on the fossils they contain. For the first 150 years of geology, biostratigraphy and superposition were the only means for determining the relative age of rocks.

 

Some observers are perplexed by the rarity of transitional species. The conventional explanation for this rarity was given by Darwin, who stated that "the extreme imperfection of the geological record," combined with the short duration and narrow geographical range of transitional species, made it unlikely that many such fossils would be found. Simply put, the conditions under which fossilization takes place are quite rare; and it is highly unlikely that any given organism will leave behind a fossil. Stephen J. Gould developed his theory of punctuated equilibrium in part to explain the pattern of stasis and sudden appearance in the fossil record.

 

Since the latter half of the twentieth century, absolute dating methods, such as radiometric dating (including potassium/argon, argon/argon, uranium series, and carbon-14 dating which works only for the very recent past, the last 50,000 years before the present), show that the earliest known fossils are over 3.5 billion years old. Various dating methods have been used and are used today depending on local geology and context, and while there is some variance in the results from these dating methods, nearly all of them provide evidence for a very old Earth, approximately 4.6 billion years. (See geologic time scale).

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The fossil record remains first and foremost among the databases that document changes in past life on Earth. Fossils provide the dimension of time to the study of life. Some of the most basic observations about fossils and the rock record were made long before Darwin formulated his theory of “descent with modification.” The fossil record clearly shows changes in life through almost any sequence of sedimentary rock layers. Successive rock layers contain different groups or assemblages of fossil species.

 

Sedimentary rocks are, by far, the most common rocks at Earth’s surface. They are formed mostly from particles of older rocks that have been broken apart by water, ice, and wind. The particles of gravel, sand, and mud, which are collectively called sediment, settle in layers at the bottoms of rivers, lakes, and oceans. Shells and other limy materials may accumulate in the oceans. As the sediments accumulate they bury shells, bones, leaves, pollen, and other bits and pieces of living things. With the passing of time, the layers of sediments are compacted by the weight of overlying sediments and cemented together to become the sedimentary rocks called limestone, shale, sandstone, and conglomerate. The buried plant and animal remains become fossils within the sedimentary layers.

 

 

 

History of Descent

Seems to be a code word for the evolutionary origin of man. There is also a 'Theory of Descent' and 'Descent with modification' see the second reference.

 

If we, as scientists and students of science, are capable of understanding the world around us and the ways of science, then organisms have changed over time and have descended from a common ancestor. Therefore, Organic Evolution is a Fact.

 

Evolution means descent with modification. In order to understand the history of life, we have to understand the patterns of evolution. We use phylogeny (Greek: phylum = tribe, genos = birth or origin) to show relationships of ancestors to descendants, therefore, phylogeny explains the history of descent of organisms.

Note the outrageous first statements. He is saying that since he is capable of understanding, organic evolution is a fact! Is this scientific investigation?

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  • Title: Jettison the Arguments, or the Rule? The Place of Darwinian Theological Themata in Evolutionary Reasoning
  • Website: http://www.arn.org/docs/nelson/pn_jettison.htm
  • Site Owner: Access Research Network
  • Author: Paul A. Nelson, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago
  • Date: File Date: 11.17.98

Evolution lies exposed in the imperfections that record a history of descent...

It will be useful to formalize Gould's argument. I have drawn the following premises from the cited passages.

 

(1) If p is an instance of organic design, then p was produced either by a wise creator, or by descent with modification (evolution).

 

(2) If p (an instance of organic design) was produced by a wise creator, then p should be perfect (or should exhibit no imperfections).

 

(3) Organic design p is not perfect (or exhibits imperfections).

 

From these premises, the conclusion follows that:

 

Organic design p was not produced by a wise creator, but by descent with modification. Some organic designs are evidence of evolution.

 

Note that premises 1 and 2 are theological; they refer directly to a creator, and the actions expected of him. Stephen Jay Gould's terms for the creator include "a perfect engineer," "a sensible God," "a rational agent," and "a wise creator." Note further that premises 2 and 3 refer to "perfection," and we may reasonably infer from the cited passages that Gould holds that humans can readily discern the presence or absence of perfection when they examine organic designs.

The conclusion requires of course both that perfection and imperfection be patent qualities of organic design, and that a wise creator would only create perfect organic designs. If these premises are granted, it will follow that any imperfect organic design is not the product of a wise creator. Rather it has come to be via the historically contingent processes of descent with modification.

And, according to Gould, examples of imperfect organic design abound. He writes of "vestigial organs," "odd biogeographic distributions made sensible only as products of history," and "adaptations as contrivances jury-rigged from parts available" 14 -- all of which, on the imperfection argument, provide evidence for descent.

The above is taken from an essay by Professor Nelson. The essay's purpose is to note that evolutionists commonly use theological terms in their initial assumptions underlying the theory of evolution. This article is well worth the read.

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Phylogenies

Defining and identifying species is one major area of research into the evolutionary process. Equally important is the study of how different species are related to each other. Because species originate by the branching process of speciation, each species living today has a history of descent that passes through many species that no longer exist. Every species that has ever existed shares a relationship with every other species through a common ancestor species that lived at some time in the past. For some pairs of animal species, like chimpanzees and humans, the ancestor is very recent, within the past few million years. For other pairs of species, such as humans and turkeys, the most recent common ancestor lived hundreds of millions of years ago. The account of all such ancestral relationships within a group of animals is called a phylogeny.

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  • Title: Kansas Science Education Standards
  • Author: Kansas State Board Of Education, Science Standards
  • Date: Approved in late 2005

Patterns of Cumulative Change

The current forms and functions of objects, organisms, and natural systems are the result of the accumulated changes over time. These changes may be gradual while other changes are sporadic. In general, it is thought that current forms and functions have arisen from previous forms or materials. An example of cumulative change is the formation of galaxies, explained by cosmological theories involving (among other theories) gravitation and the behavior of gasses, and the present diversity of living organisms, which the biological theory of evolution, or descent with modification of organisms from common ancestors, seeks to explain. The present position of the continents is explained by the theories of continental drift, which involves plate tectonic theory, fossilization, uplift and erosion. Patterns of cumulative change also help to describe the current structure of the universe. Although science proposes theories to explain changes, the actual causes of many changes are currently unknown (e.g. the origin of the universe, the origin of fundamental laws, the origin of life and the genetic code, and the origin of major body plans during the Cambrian explosion).

Are you getting this. The state science standards use the term "descent with modification" and USD446 has "history of descent". Both terms point to the study of Phylogenies which is how we all derived from a single life form.

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Law

  • Randon House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged
  • Hardback, 1983
  • ISBN 0-394-50050-4

Philosophy, Science, etc. (a)a statement of a relation or sequence of phenomena invariable under the same conditions. (b)a mathematical rule.

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Missing Link (Fossils)

I have searched extensivly for a concise definition of this term to no avail. Most of the websites I probed indicated that this is a tranistional species between modern man and the ape family. However, other examples of missing links that connect the chain of life from today to a single organism are also touted by evolutionists like the Archaeopteryx (bird?) below.

   As you browse through the articles for this term, please remember that the term 'missing links' relates to a full chain working backwards from us most curious humans to the Primeval Soup beginning of life. Also, the dating is not discussed in any detail. How can we be sure of accuracy?

 

 

 

  • Title: Evolution and the Missing Link: Why Is It Missing?
  • Website: http://atheism.about.com/b/a/196538.htm
  • Site Owner: About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company.
  • Author: Austin Cline
  • Date: Saturday April 22, 2006

 

   When we say "missing link," we invoke a metaphorical chain, a set of links that stretch far back in time. Each link represents a single species, a single variety of life. Because each link is connected to two other links, each is intimately connected to past and future forms. Break one link, and the pieces of the chain can be separated, and relationships lost. But find a lost link, and you can rebuild the chain, reconnect separated lengths. One potent reason for the attractiveness of this metaphor is that it allows for the drama of the quest, the search for that elusive missing link.

   Charles Sullivan and Cameron Mcpherson Smith go on to explain in the May 2005 issue of Skeptical Inquirer that while the metaphor is seductive, it's mistaken:

   But the metaphor is as misleading as it is attractive. The concept that each species is a link in a great chain of life forms was largely developed in the typological age of biology, when species “fixity” (the idea that species were unchanging) was the dominant paradigm. Both John Ray (1627-1705) and Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1797), the architects of biological classification (neither of whom believed in evolution), were concerned with describing the order of living species, an order they each believed was laid out by God (Ray suggested that the divinely specified function of biting insects was to plague the wicked).

   But while the links of a chain are discrete, unchanging, and easily defined, groups of life forms are not. We generally define a species as some interbreeding group that cannot, or does not, productively breed with another group. But since species are not fixed (they change through time), it can be difficult to be sure where one species ends and another begins. For these reasons, many modern biologists prefer a continuum metaphor, in which shades of one life form grade into another. Life is not arranged as links, but as shades. The metaphorical chain is far less substantial than it sounds.

   Thus the chain metaphor is wrong. It doesn’t accurately represent biology as we know it today, but as it was understood over four centuries ago. The myth persists because of convenience; it is easier to think of species as types, with discrete qualities, than as grades between one species and another. In school, we learn the specific characteristics of plants and animals; this alone is not a problem, except that we are not often exposed to the main ramification of evolution: that those characteristics will change through time.

   So, our idea that there can even be such a thing as a “missing link” was created in an era of biological research which is long gone. It’s a concept which is no longer valid in our current understanding of the nature of life and evolution — but, as is so often the case with appealing concepts, it continues to live on, to structure people’s assumptions, and to influence how they think about evolution.

   This is almost always an unfortunate situation, but it is especially unfortunate here because the concept of a “missing link” creates confusion and misunderstandings which creationists are able to exploit. Perhaps the creationists know that they misunderstanding things; more likely, though, is that their misunderstanding is completely accidental and, in fact, one of the reasons why they are creationists in the first place.

   Life is more like a spectrum than a chain, but not a spectrum with discreet ends. It’s a spectrum in that there are gradual transitions from one species to another, all of whom are certainly linked together, but no discreet links in a chain which can be broken, repaired, or readily followed. The more people understand this sort of thing, the better equipped they will be to understand evolution as a whole — not to mention the entire field of biology itself.

I like the concept of a continuum metaphor but this would, logically, increase the likelihood of more missing links being found. If there are many gradual transitions, why can't we find a bunch?

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Many people honestly believe that the ancestry of mankind has been mapped faithfully and nearly completely. They have heard about "missing links," and regard them as scientific proof for man's evolution from primates. However, in truth, no ancestor for man has ever been documented. The "missing links" are still missing. Here is a summary of facts relating to some of the most well known fossil discoveries.

   * Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Neandertal man) - 150 years ago Neandertal reconstructions were stooped and very much like an 'ape-man'. It is now admitted that the supposedly stooped posture was due to disease and that Neandertal is just a variation of the human kind.

   * Ramapithecus - once widely regarded as the ancestor of humans, it has now been realized that it is merely an extinct type of orangutan (an ape).

   * Eoanthropus (Piltdown man) - a hoax based on a human skull cap and an orangutan's jaw. It was widely publicized as the missing link for 40 years.

* Hesperopithecus (Nebraska man) - based on a single tooth of a type of pig now only living in Paraguay.

   * Pithecanthropus (Java man) - now renamed to Homo erectus. See below.

   * Australopithecus africanus - this was at one time promoted as the missing link. It is no longer considered to be on the line from apes to humans. It is very ape-like.

   * Sinanthropus (Peking man) was once presented as an ape-man but has now been reclassified as Homo erectus (see below).

Currently fashionable ape-men:

These are the ones that adorn the evolutionary trees of today that supposedly led to Homo sapiens from a chimpanzee-like creature.

   * Australopithecus - there are various species of these that have been at times proclaimed as human ancestors. One remains: Australopithecus afarensis, popularly known as the fossil 'Lucy'. However, detailed studies of the inner ear, skulls and bones have suggested that 'Lucy' and her like are not on the way to becoming human. For example, they may have walked more upright than most apes, but not in the human manner. Australopithecus afarensis is very similar to the pygmy chimpanzee.

   * Homo habilis - there is a growing consensus amongst most paleoanthropologists that this category actually includes bits and pieces of various other types - such as Australopithecus and Homo erectus. It is therefore an 'invalid taxon'. That is, it never existed as such.

   * Homo erectus - many remains of this type have been found around the world. They are smaller than the average human today, with an appropriately smaller head (and brain size). However, the brain size is within the range of people today and studies of the middle ear have shown that Homo erectus was just like us. Remains have been found in the same strata and in close proximity to ordinary Homo sapiens, suggesting that they lived together.

There is no fossil proof that man is the product of evolution. Could it be that the missing links are still missing because they simply do not exist.

"Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).

It is to bad that Mr. Taylor has little to say about Homo erectus. It looks like another line of inquiry. See article below.

 

 

 

In the quest to explain human origins it is necessary to find a species that bridges modern man (Homo sapiens) with the apes. To fill this gap evolutionists have set forth Homo erectus, having lived by their time scale between approximately 400,000 and 1.6 million years ago. Although their definition is somewhat vague the following characteristics are generally accepted.

      Skull low, broad and elongated

      Cranial capacity 750-1250 cc

      Median sagittal ridge

      Supraorbital ridge

      Postorbital constriction

      Receding frontal contour

      Occipital bun or torus

      Nuchal area extended for muscle attachment

      Cranial wall unusually thick

      Brain case narrower than zygomatic arch

      Heavy facial architecture

      Alveolar (maxilla) prognathism

      Large jaw, wide ramus

      No chin (mentum)

      Teeth generally large

      Post-cranial bones heavy and thick

(Lubenow 1992, 132-133)

At least 222 fossils of Homo erectus have been found to date throughout Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. When considering these fossils as candidates for human ancestors, three key questions should be asked:

   1. Does Homo erectus have a form that is so different as to place it in a distinct species outside of the Homo sapiens?

      There is no clear boundary between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Below the neck, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens are virtually identical. The head resembles the Neandertals but smaller. A number of evolutionists have stated that although Homo erectus is a bit different they are not so far apart that they should be classified as separate species. In the opinion of Lubenow, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens and Neandertals form one continuum.

   2. Are Homo erectus fossils found at the right time (i.e. after apes and before Homo sapiens) so as to establish them as legitimate ancestors to modern man?

      When the ages of the fossils are compared using the dates ascribed to them by evolutionary investigators, it appears that Homo erectus and modern man are contemporaries. In an exhaustive listing of man-like fossils, Lubenow (Lubenow 1992, 121-123, 128) finds that 106 of the 222 the fossils have dates earlier than their assumed age of disappearance of 300,000 years ago. Of these 106, 62 are dated more recently than 12,000 years ago, effectively modern history. When evolutionists are confronted with this evidence, they reply that they must be Homo sapiens, since they have recent dates, despite what they look like (Lubenow 1992, 132).

      In addition, in more than half the sites where these fossils have been discovered, stone tools have also been discovered. At eleven sites, there was exhibited the controlled use of fire. These are very human characteristics. (Lubenow 1992, 140).

   3. Are there adequate non-evolutionary explanations for the appearance (morphology) of Homo erectus?

      Yes, rickets. This disease causes deformation of the bones and skull in children due to a lack of vitamin D, which is caused by diet and absence of ultraviolet light (sunlight). One model of a post-flood world predicts the Ice Ages and a decrease in sunlight due to atmospheric particulate matter lofted by volcanoes. There may be a connection. Homo erectus is closely related to Neandertal. Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), professor of pathology at the University of Berlin, was a distinguished physician and is considered to be the father of the science of pathology. Virchow diagnosed the first Neandertal as having a case of rickets. Virchow, living in the 1800's had the advantage of seeing cases of rickets firsthand, unlike recent physicians.

References:Lubenow 1992, 120-156; Gish 1985, 180-187

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Most literalist creationists argue that there are no transitional forms (e.g. Morris 1967, Gish 1979, 1985, 1995). Cracraft (1983) suggests that this argument, could well be the paradigm example characterizing the entire creation-evolution controversy for it illustrates how creationists have taken an extremely complex scientific question, simplified the matter to the point of misrepresentation, and then have promoted the blatantly false claim that the fossil record supports the creationist world view. Indeed, from the manner in which creationists have discussed this issue, one can only conclude that either the creationists have consciously adopted the tactic of outright distortion or they are so abysmally ignorant of the scientific arguments and data that their apparent distortions are only accidental, not purposeful.(p. 178)

      In discussions about the existence of transitional forms in the fossil record, no fossil has caused more feathers to fly than Archaeopteryx, due to its pride of place as a classic example of a transitional form - in evolutionary terms, a form which exhibits characters shared with one group and only that group, whilst also exhibiting other characters shared with another group and only with that group, in other words a morphological intermediate.

      Dr. Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research, is probably one of those most vocal in crying foul at the recognition of Archaeopteryxas a transitional form. There have been various commentaries on passages from Dr. Gish's 1978 book Evolution? The Fossils Say No!, but relatively little commentary about Dr. Gish's 1985 book Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record. This article looks at a small portion of the 1985 book - that pertaining to Archaeopteryx - in light of Cracraft's comments.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The first detailed look at the ancestor of modern birds - a grebe-like waterbird that would look normal even today - was shown off Thursday by scientists who discovered fossil remains in a remote lake bed in China.

   "A world lost for more than 100 million years was being revealed to us," as layers of mud were peeled back like the pages of a book, said Hai-lu You of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

   What they found is being called the missing link on the evolution of birds, a creature that lived in northwestern China and is the earliest example of modern birds that populate the planet today.

   Before their discovery, reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science, the only evidence for this creature - Gansus yumenensis - was a single, partial leg discovered in the 1980s.

   Now researchers have dozens of nearly complete fossils of Gansus, said a beaming Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

   "Most of the ancestors of birds from the age of dinosaurs are members of groups that died out and left no modern descendants. But Gansus led to modern birds, so it's a link between primitive birds and those we see today," Lamanna said.

   Previously there was a gap between ancient and modern species of birds, and "Gansus fits perfectly into this gap," added Jerald Harris of Dixie State College in Utah.

   It was about the size of a modern pigeon but similar to loons or diving ducks, the researchers said. One of the fossils even has skin preserved between the toes, showing it had webbed feet.

   "We were lucky far beyond our expectations" in finding these fossils, added You.

   "Gansus is the oldest example of the nearly modern birds that branched off of the trunk of the family tree that began with the famous proto-bird Archaeopteryx," said Peter Dodson of the University of Pennsylvania.

   The remains were dated to about 110 million years ago, making them the oldest for the group Ornithurae, which includes all modern birds and their closest extinct relatives. Previously, the oldest known fossils from this group were from about 99 million years ago.

   The fact that Gansus was aquatic indicates modern birds may have evolved from animals that originated in aquatic environments, the researchers said.

   "Our new specimens are extremely well-preserved, with some even including feathers," Lamanna said.

   "Because these fossils are in such good condition, they've enabled us to reconstruct the appearance and relationships of Gansus with a high degree of precision. They provide new and important insight into the evolutionary transformation of carnivorous dinosaurs into the birds we know today."

   The remains were found in an ancient lake bed near the town Changma.

   "We went to Changma hoping that we'd discover one, maybe two, fragments of fossil birds," he said. "Instead, we found dozens, including some almost complete skeletons with soft tissues."

   The new fossil material "is remarkable for its excellent preservation...The new fossils demonstrate that Gansus clearly is a bird that spent much of its life looking for food in water," commented Hans-Dieter Sues, associate director for research and collections at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

   Gansus is an additional "link in a long chain of intermediate forms between Archaeopteryx, the oldest known bird from the late Jurassic, and modern birds," said Sues, who was not part of Lamanna's research team.

Sounds like a pretty tight story doesn't it? But we don't know as to the accuracy of the dating nor if this critter was successful in its time frame or if it was a failure and died out quickly. We need to look at how sedimentary material is laid down. We CANNOT accept these assumptions without investigation.

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Origin Theories

This term refers to the topics: origin of man; origin of life; origin of the earth, solar system and the universe. How did these come to be? The mainstream science explinations are not the only ones. Since none of us were at any of these origins, explanitions can only be made by inference and assumptions.

 

I made several web engine searches and found little available with this term as the keyword. But the one source below is well worth a review.

  • Title: Various Theories of Origins of: Life, Plant and Animal Species, the Earth and the Rest of the Universe
  • Web Location: http://www.religioustolerance.org/evolutio.htm
  • Website Owner: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
  • Author: B.A. Robinson
  • Date: 2006-JUN-16

This document is extensive. The author states that origin belief systems can be classified as 4 major types: Creation Science (Young Earth version), Theistic view, Scientific view, and Creation science (Old Earth version). This pretty well agrees with the perspective I have gained in the construction of my website.

    The advantage of this term is that 'evolution' can take on many meanings and this is one of the major problems with the word. By using 'Origin Theories' the scope is decisively limited to only those theories. Thus short-term or micro-evolution (dog breeds, hybrid plants, general gains in height of humans over time, etc.) are automatically excluded, clearing the field of ambiguity.

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Primeval

Existing in or persisting from the beginning (as of a Solar System or Universe).

 

Primeval Atom

"That was done by a Belgian, Georges Lemaître. Early in the 1930's Lemaître went backwards in time, to the period when the whole universe was a "primeval atom." In this first and single atom, everything was squashed into a sphere only a few times as big as the Sun, with no space between atoms, or even between nuclei. As Lemaître saw it, this unit must then have exploded, fragmenting into the atoms and stars and galaxies and everything else in the universe that we know today. He might justifiably have called it the Big Bang, but he didn't. That name was coined by Fred Hoyle (the same man who did the fundamental work on nucleosynthesis) in 1950."

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Redshift

A shift toward longer wavelengths of the radiation caused by the emitting object moving away from the observer. When this occurs we see the light from the object become more red. See also Doppler effect.

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Theory (Dictionary)

  • Randon House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged
  • Hardback, 1983, ISBN 0-394-50050-4

(1) a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity.

(2) a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

 

 

Speciation

Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. There are four modes of natural speciation, based on the extent to which speciating populations are geographically isolated from one another: allopatric, peripatric, parapatric, and sympatric. Speciation may also be induced artificially, through animal husbandry or laboratory experiments. Observed examples of each kind of speciation are provided throughout.

Only examples are plant species.

 

 

To understand speciation, it is important to have a definition of a species. A species is a group of populations through which genes can flow and whose offspring have a fitness equal to the parents. As evolution progresses, gene flow is eventually stopped between one population and the species as a whole. As a population undergoes changes in gene frequencies it could diverge entirely until it is reproductively distinct from other populations of the species from which it diverged. This is called phyletic evolution or anagenesis. Alternatively the population could evolve into two distinct species that exist simultaneously. This is called true speciation or cladogenesis. The development of the cereal crops is an example.

 

 

The formation of new species as a result of geographic, physiological, anatomical, or behavioral factors that prevent previously interbreeding populations from breeding with each other.

 

Before commenting on cases of speciation (one species turning into another species) it is first essential to define what constitutes a species. In biology there is a strong definition and a weak definition.

 

The strong definition (proposed by Dobzhansky) is, "That stage of evolutionary progress at which the once actually or potentially interbreeding array of forms becomes segregated into two or more arrays which are physiologically incapable of interbreeding."

 

The weak definition (proposed by Ernst Mayr) is, "Groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations which are reproductively isolated from other such groups."

 

Notice that the strong definition is strong because it makes it unambiguously clear that one species cannot breed with another. The weak definition is weak because it does not spell out the meaning of "reproductively isolated". Does it mean "the two groups might mate if they had the chance but unfortunately are on opposites sides of the lake without a rowing boat"?

 

Darwinists protest that applying the strong definition, showing by lab experiment that reproduction is physiologically or genetically impossible -- in for example fruit fly breeding experiments -- is too difficult or time consuming to be practical. These objections are bogus since it is a relatively straightforward procedure to artificially inseminate females with sperm from a male of the claimed 'new species' and see what happens.

 

Virtually all the so-called examples of speciation (one species turning into another species) offered by Darwinists are in reality examples of them exploiting the ambiguity of the weak definition of species to suggest that what are no more than subspecific varieties are actually different species.

 

For example, an old favourite that Darwinists often try to slip in by the back door is the idea that all the different breeds of dog are different species, when in fact all breeds of dog, from the tiny Chihuahua to the Great Dane, are all members of a single species, Canis familiaris, and are capable of interbreeding.

 

The remaining examples of "speciation" offered by Darwinists are cases in the plant world where the number of chromosomes in a seedling spontaneously doubles (called polyploidy). This often produces a plant which looks different from its parents and is incapable of breeding with its parent stock. It was this process that botanist Hugo de Vries observed in the evening primrose and that he dubbed "mutation".

This process passes the strict test of "speciation" because the parent and offspring are physiologically incapable of interbreeding. But even the most enthusiastic Darwinist would not try to suggest that the process of polyploidy can be cited as the engine of evolution and would acknowledge that it is incapable of producing anything other than the odd freak.

 

"Speciation" in the Darwinian sense of one species gradually changing by selection into another has not been observed and no examples are known.

 

 

It is now a generally accepted fact that species appear suddenly in the fossil record without known ancestors and often disappear just as suddenly from the record. The fossil record lends no support to the idea that speciation has had anything whatever to do with evolution. Most known fossil species appear to be highly stable entities that remain unchanged, by evolutionary assumptions, for tens of millions of years. Nearly half of the marine bivalve mollusk species in the well represented fossils of the Cenozoic Era are identical in structure to living forms. Of those not having living representatives, most are believed by evolutionists to have become extinct rather than having evolved into some other species. The following fossil species comprise at least 50% living species: marine gastropods younger than 3.5 million years old (myo), benthic foraminifera younger than 15 myo, plaktonic foraminifera younger than 10 myo, fresh water fish and terrestrial mammals younger than 7 myo and nearly ALL species of beetles younger than 2 myo. For plants, fossil species which comprise at least 50% living species include: seed bearing vascular plants younger than 4 myo, marine diatoms younger than 12 myo, bryophytes younger than 10 myo and nearly ALL Miocene and Pliocene species are alive today! These data suggest that for all species of plants and animals, there has been little measurable change in nearly ten billion generations! We may conclude that evolution by "speciation" occurs only in a semantic sense and tells us nothing whatever about how we have come to have lions and horses and chickens and cows and giraffes and dinosaurs etc. etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Theory by Michael Loop Ph.D.

Before looking for "theories" that were "proven wrong", make sure you understand what a (scientific) theory is, because a scientific theory is more specific than the colloquial use of the word theory as "a guess".

 

A scientific theory is:

"A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena."

So for an explanation to pass the test of being a "scientific theory" it must meet a higher standard of rigor and generality than "my guess". First: Scientific theories are seldom, if ever, "right" or "wrong" in an absolute sense. Second: One has to be careful about tossing the term "proven" around loosely. What does "proven" mean? By its definition:

a scientific theory is "organized", "generally accepted", and "widely applicable". However, a "scientific theory" explains or applies to a "specific set of phenomena".

Examples: Newton's theory of mechanics and Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism are well established theories within the context of their applicability, but they are not "universal", in the sense that one can find some set of conditions where they do not apply. Neither theory applies to atoms and molecules. A new theory, quantum mechanics, was developed to "explain" the behavior of atoms and molecules -- but even quantum mechanics has its boundaries of applicabilty. Neither Newton's, Maxwell's, nor "quantum" theory applies to conditions where the speed of particles approaches the speed of light. Here Einstein developed the theory of special relativity. And even special relativity does not apply in circumstances where gravity is a significant factor. In such cases the "general theory of relativity" must be used to correctly describe, explain, and predict

experimental observations.

 

Remember -- the "gold standard" is: "Does the theory correctly predict some phenomena that can be measured experimentally."

 

To this day there is no satisfactory theory that correctly predicts conditions where both "gravity" and "quantum mechanics" play a significant role. That does not make either one "disproved". It only identifies their boundaries of applicability.

 

A "hot debate" these days is the "theory of evolution". Proponents of "creationism" and "intelligent design" proclaim the "theory of evolution" is ONLY a theory, but they are using THEORY to mean "a guess". This is a misuse of the term as scientists use the term THEORY. However, "creationists" and "intelligent designers" have no experimental data to "put on the table" to be examined, verified, or refuted. Instead, they proclaim that "evolution" is not universal, that it does not explain every aspect of biological development. Nobody who understands "evolution" claims that it does. All "theories" are the product of human intelligence, and there is no theory of "everything".

   Advances in chemistry are unraveling the chemical structure of DNA and other complex biological molecules. In the not too distant future the connection between various species (and even individuals) will be a "simple" matter of chemical analysis of the molecules that define "species" and "individuals" within species. Then the protagonists of "creationism" and "intelligent design" are going to have to refute "chemistry" as a science. They will have to claim that the chemical analysis of the building blocks of species and individuals are "theory", "just a guess". Interesting.

Dr. Loop provides good direction in understanding what a theory. I particularly like his examples. If he had shown in such concise manner the constraints on the theory of evolution we would have a measuring stick to compare with what is taught in Kansas schools. Unfortunately he does not go the distance. I have found experimental data for Intelligent Design (e.g. blood clotting - see link to Intelligent Design. The proponents of ID I have run across have argument when the Theory of Evolution is used to explain the origin of man and/or the universe. At this point, to use Dr. Loop's words, the theory is outside "their boundaries of applicability"

 

I find Dr. Loop's last paragraph an excellent basis for a science fiction book. Has anyone found these "molecules that define species"?

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Theory by Vince Calder

Every scientific theory is wrong in some respect. There is no scientific theory of "everything". The point is this.

A theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena." [definition from "WordWeb Pro"]

Physical theories are not "proven" or "disproved". They apply, or do not apply, to some set of observations. In mathematics "proved" means the theorem (statement about the elements of the axioms) are logically consistent with the axioms. That does not mean it is "true", that is, "right" versus "wrong". So for example, the theory of real numbers is totally encompassed by the theory of complex numbers, but that does not make the theory of real numbers "wrong". It only specifies its limits and consistency within the axioms of the mathematical theory.

 

Physical theories, for example, Newtonian mechanics, applies to a

certain range of measurement. It applies to most of the world as we observe it with our senses. However, at the atomic level, it does not make the correct prediction of what is OBSERVED. At conditions where the speeds approach the speed of light it does not make the correct prediction of what is OBSERVED. In these two examples, quantum mechanics and relativistic mechanics respectively, do predict what is OBSERVED. This doesn't make Newtonian mechanics "right" versus "wrong".

 

There is a current, actually recurrent, debate on whether "the theory of evolution" is "right" or "wrong". The debate misses the point. It is neither "right" nor is it "wrong". The measure is: Does "evolution" explain many of the OBSERVATIONS of the genetic relation between species. Most scientists believe it does, and have experimental DATA to support their OBSERVATIONS and the limits of their observations . Advocates of "creationism" and/or "intelligent design", on the other hand, invoke absolute "right" or "wrong" based upon articles of Christian faith. Other faith traditions, even Christian traditions, do not accept that position. So physical theories do not address absolute "truth" versus absolute "false".

 

It is interesting and ironic that a Catholic monk, Mendel, first "explained" genetic relationships and Georges Lemaître, a Jesuit priest, first proposed what is now called the "Big Bang". Neither felt their "faith" was compromised.

Here again we find that theory is constrained by certain assumptions. In context of public education the debate centers on if these constraints are acknowledged and identified in the classroom or if the theory is presented as fact. In addition, it is known that there have been several hoaxes presented to validate the theory, sometimes still being published in school textbooks. In one reading about Georges Lemaître it is stated he estimated that the cosmological redshift caused the plasma to cool until it became favorable for electrons to combine with protons and form hydrogen atoms. This happened at around 3,000 K or when the universe was approximately 380,000 years old. Compare this with statements that our planet is millions of years old. It does get confusing, doesn't it? And what does the Big Bang have to do with the origin of man, generally thrown in with the theory of evolution.

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