Re: no pre-Cambrian rabbits!

From: Stephen E. Jones (
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 08:19:52 EST

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    On Tue, 11 Jan 2000 11:57:57 -0800, Cliff Lundberg wrote:

    >SJ>Darwinian "fittest" originally meant `differential survival' but when it was
    >>found that it didn't always work, the Neo-Darwinists redefined it to mean
    >>`differential reproduction':

    CL>This implies that the original Darwinians didn't understand their own
    >model, which is highly unlikely.

    How exactly does it imply that?

    >SJ>...Thus natural selection, for Darwin, was differential mortality. In the
    >>course of time there has been a slow change in this view, so that now
    >>it is customary to say that natural selection is differential reproduction.
    >>This in turn may be equated with reproductive success, or leaving the
    >>most offspring." (Macbeth N., "Darwin Retried", 1971, p40).

    CL>There seems to be a shell game here between a "view" and what "is
    >customary to say", that is, the expression of a view. Is there really any
    >doubt about whether Darwin would have accepted the 'differential
    >reproduction' language? Or whether he would have rejected it as a
    >product of a "change in this view"? No. There was no change in view,
    >only a refinement in language. Norman M. was pulling a courtroom trick.

    I think Cliff is reading too much into MacBeth's doing what all good
    writers do-using synonyms to make his writing sound less boring.

    The point about the "`differential reproduction' language" is that it is in
    effect a new theory. Neo-Darwinists have kept the same old words like
    "fitness" to give the illusion of continuity but it is not the same thing as
    differential survival which really did mean fitness.

    >Sj>But the price paid for saving the theory from falsification is a further
    >>reduction in explanatory power, so nowadays Darwinian "survival of the
    >>fittest" is little more than a tautology, as Koestler points out:
    >>...the fittest are obviously those who survive longest.

    CL>I for one have never encountered this definition of fitness. Straw man.

    Sounds OK to me. What does Cliff think that differential survival is, if it is
    not differential longevity?

    Here are some examples of "longevity" being a factor in differential
    survival (note that "longevity" is mentioned first in both cases):

    "The term species selection may be applied to any process that produces
    differential survival among a number of species that descended from a
    common ancestor. It may result from the greater longevity of individual
    species or from different rates of speciation." (Carroll R.L., "Vertebrate
    Paleontology and Evolution" , 1988, p576)

    "Once upon a time, natural selection consisted of the differential survival of
    replicators floating free in the primeval soup. Now, natural selection
    favours replicators that are good at building survival machines, genes that
    are skilled in the art of controlling embryonic development. In this, the
    replicators are no more conscious or purposeful than they ever were. The
    same old processes of automatic selection between rival molecules by
    reason of their longevity, fecundity, and copying-fidelity, still go on as
    blindly and as inevitably as they did in the far-off days." (Dawkins R., "The
    Selfish Gene", 1989, p24)

    >SJ>But when we talk about the evolution of species, the lifespan of individuals
    >>is irrelevant (it may be a day for some insects, a century for tortoises);

    CL>That man was so straw Koestler has to immediately destroy it himself.

    Not really. What Koestler says above is simply a *fact*. Differences in lifespans are *enormous*, from hours for
    bacteria to thousands of years for some trees.

    >SJ>what matters is how many offspring they produce in their life-time

    CL>On what basis does Koestler assert this, given that he believes there is
    >nothing here but circular definition?

    Again it is simply a *fact* that if evolution is to be true, what really matters
    would not be how long an individual lives but how many offspring it

    The "circular" argument part comes later when Darwinists try to make a
    scientific theory of fitness out of it.

    Again it is simply a *fact* that if Darwinists define "fittest" as relative
    differential survival (ie. those which leave relatively more offspring), then
    they can't meaningfully turn around and say that the fittest are those which
    leave relatively more offspring!

    >CL>Thus natural
    >>selection looks after the survival and reproduction of the fittest, and the
    >>fittest are those which have the highest rate of reproduction - we are
    >>caught in a circular argument which completely begs the question of what
    >>makes evolution evolve."

    CL>This sort of argument typically begins by dismissing 'fittest' as
    >meaningless, and then blithely continues using 'fittest' at every
    >opportunity, to generate confusion, the ally of those with no case.

    No it doesn't. "Fittest" itself is not meaningless, and nor does Koestler
    say it is.

    It is the Darwinists defining of "fitness" as "relative differential
    survival" and then claiming that "relative differential survival" is
    due to "fitness" that is meaningless.

    Cl>I think Stephen does no service to ID in dredging up this ancient
    >word-play. Anyway, doesn't ID admit evolution of a sort, being
    >mainly concerned with origins?

    The "word-play" is not "ancient". It crops up all the time in Darwinist
    literature. Johnson explains why:

    "I agree that in principle natural selection can be formulated non-
    tautologically, as in Kettlewell's industrial melanism experiment. The
    problem is not that the theory is inherently tautological, but rather that the
    absence of evidence for the important claims Darwinists make for natural
    selection continually tempts them to retreat to the tautology. In Chapter
    Four we will see that Gould himself explains the survival of species as due
    to their possessing the quality of "resistance to extinction." In raising the
    tautology issue I am not merely taking advantage of a few careless
    statements. When the critics are not watching, Darwinists continue to
    employ natural selection in its tautological form as the self-evident
    explanation for whatever change or lack of change happened to occur. The
    important point is that the Darwinists have been tempted continually by the
    thought that their theory could be given the status of an a priori truth, or a
    logical inevitability, so that it could be known to be true without the need
    of empirical confirmation. Their susceptibility to this temptation is
    understandable. When the theory is stated as a hypothesis requiring
    empirical confirmation, the supporting evidence is not impressive."
    (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993, p176)


    "When we consider the remote past, before the origin of the actual species
    Homo sapiens, we are faced with a fragmentary and disconnected fossil
    record. Despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by
    some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our
    direct ancestor...The earliest forms that are recognized as being hominid
    are the famous fossils, associated with primitive stone tools, that were
    found by Mary and Louis Leakey in the Olduvai gorge and elsewhere in
    Africa. These fossil hominids lived more than 1.5 million years ago and had
    brains half the size of ours. They were certainly not members of our own
    species, and we have no idea whether they were even in our direct ancestral
    line or only in a parallel line of descent resembling our direct ancestor."
    (Lewontin R.C., "Human Diversity", Scientific American Library: New
    York NY, 1995, p163).
    Stephen E. Jones | |

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