[asa] Adequacy of neo_Darwin... synthesis

From: Dave Wallace <wmdavid.wallace@gmail.com>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 16:15:41 EDT

Bill Powers wrote:
> This is just the power of chance events and infinite time: the entire
> phase space can be covered, regardless of how small the supposed
> probability.
Consider a single complex transition under evolution, say the addition
of vision or of the circulatory system or mammals from reptiles... I'm
not talking about a case where what is being selected for is something
like color of the pelt size and shape of the beak or the changes needed
for mammals to return to the sea but truly novel developments. For
variation and natural selection to be correct it seems to me that at
each step in the path the variation must have a positive (but possibly
very small) impact or at best not highly negative impact, on
reproduction/survival, for the path to be taken. Now I realize that
this process is not exactly the same as searching for maximums and
minimums in some complex numerical function but it must have some
similarities to using possibly biased random guesses and then following
the slope of the function towards a maximum.

Rich will probably have a comment here and I may not have understood his
point in the past that RM + NS is not equivalent to an optimization
problem and I agree but maybe he meant more than I have understood as
evidenced in my discussion above. I agree that RM+NS is not seeking for
an optimum point but simply for advantage.

Now I know that Dawkin's asserts that there is a way to climb mount
improbable, but my question is how do we know that in fact such paths
exist, other than looking at nature and seeing that common descent with
modification has gotten us to where we are now? The fact that common
descent is true and that the natural world exists really does not prove
that all the mechanisms in the neoDarwinist (whatever) synthesis are
adequate. *Is there at least one complex transition where we know for
sure the genetic path followed, can infer the external characteristics
of the organism, the survival advantage and have fossil evidence for
each step? *And yes I know things like, parts of the genetic material
gets duplicated and furnishes scope for RM + NS... Likely even 80% of
the steps nailed down would be sufficient. I know this is an
unreasonable request but Coyne in "Why Evolution is True" calls
evolution including NS, a fact. I find I like my facts better nailed
down than he does, especially when they are part of the
justification/presuppositions for peoples world view or religion. We
humans are very subject to a little self delusion now and again, maybe
the rest of you aren't but I certainly am.

Back when I was an OEC I did not find the YEC science convincing partly
because they required the science to come out in a certain way to
justify their religious views. I also did not find YEC science as
science convincing especially re the geological column and how it was

Dave W (ASA member)
By the way for someone coming from an OEC position I would recommend
Coyne's book and Perspectives on an Evolving Creation.

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Received on Sat May 9 16:16:15 2009

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