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Thread: Does "The Theory of Evolution" actually exist?

  1. #1

    Default Does "The Theory of Evolution" actually exist?

    When Charles Darwin published "The Origin of Species" in 1859, presenting his theory of gradual evolution via natural selection, it was at first ridiculed by scientists but went on to become the standard for evolutionary thought in the scientific community. When people today talk about "The Theory of Evolution" they are most likely refering to Darwin's theory, or one of the more recent variations of evolutionary gradualism. However, in the past 60 years other evolutionary theories have been presented due mainly to the fact that evidence from the fossil record has never supported gradulism as the overriding characteristic of evolution. Natural selection is still widely accepted as the primary determinent of surviving species but the time frames and the events that lead to the necessity of selection vary greatly among the various theories and hypotheses.

    The point is, there is no single, universal, widely accepted, theory of evolution. Evolution is a fact of life but "The Theory of Evolution" has broken free of its scientific base and has taken on the characteristics of a myth.

    Maybe I'm beating a dead horse here but I am curious about how many would agree with this assessment.

  2. #2
    CrinklySiren

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    I still agree with the assessment. Things change and theories are changed all the time with the discovery of new data. In the last 2 years alone, they have disproven theories previously considered "basis" of life. For example: the theory of relativity was disproven this very year with the creation of refracted light that is able to collide (light sabers for lack of a better term). These things are constantly studied and changed, however the theory of evolution is still very strong albeit misentepreted at times. Hell, they recently found fossils of a dinosaur in flight evolution

    - New flying dinosaur fossils found in China shed new light on how birds evolved | Mail Online
    - Fossil Records Show Scaling of Limbs as Dinosaurs Evolved into Birds : Science : Nature World News

  3. #3

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    This is why you'll never go to a scientific meeting and hear someone refer to "the theory of evolution." Scientists simply say evolution. If it matters what specific theory of or subset thereof, then you hear additional qualification. Darwin deserves a lot of credit but honestly not as much as he gets. There's a lot of stuff attributed to Darwin that he never said. I imagine that if you ask 100 people to imagine a picture when they hear the word Darwinism, many will imagine something like this. In reality, Darwin saw the hornets nest that he would stir up by asserting that man evolved from lower primates and avoided applying his treatise to humans.

    And frankly, that people freely associate all evolutionary theories together is problematic in that it lowers scientific literacy amongst the general public. BabyJessi once tried to explain to me how ridiculous Darwinism is with an example of (something like) a giraffe evolving because a horse wanted to reach leaves higher on trees. This is actually LaMarckism, a hypothesis that was never well supported and is generally treated as pseudoscience. BabyJessi was under the impression that this was actually what scientists are promoting.

    But to get back to the point, this is common vernacular in science. No one ever says "the special theory of relativity." They say special relativity. No one ever says "endosymbiotic theory." They say endosymbiosis. So on and so forth.

    The only predominant exception to the rule I have coming to mind is when speaking in a historical context.

    I do have one quibble with your post, which is probably the kind of thing that you're not picking out simply because you don't deal with this stuff on a day-to-day basis:



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    Natural selection is still widely accepted as the primary determinent of surviving species but the time frames and the events that lead to the necessity of selection vary greatly among the various theories and hypotheses.
    Your phrasing "the necessity of selection" is somewhat dubious. It strikes me as one to imply that evolution is purpose-driven, which it is not.

  4. #4

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    Short, Remotely Funny Answer: Yes. Much the same as "The Theory of Flying Pink Unicorns that Poop Rainbows and Drive Hummers while Drunk" exists. Theories exist, whether they are accurate or not is up for debate.

    Jokes aside: It is my conclusion that what you're referring to, Darwin's Theory of Evolution, is indeed correct. Sometimes. In certain situations. Some things happen because they are needed, other times evolution might occur with no reason, but due to lack of ill side effects from the change, the species can carry on. A good example of evolution occurring due to need is Tuskless Elephants, but this is also an example of my "No Ill Side Effects" statement, they've existed on occasion before. However, now, due to poachers targeting larger tusked elephants, they have made a small evolutionary jump of sorts.

    Bear in mind, like I said, Tuskless Elephants existed before, but generally never spawned offspring due to lack of mates. (Generally, females wanted the fella' with the bigger tusks) Not truly new evolution, but a jump nonetheless.

    In short: Darwin was fairly intelligent, and had some great points. Though, as with all men of knowledge, he was limited by what he could construct in his lifespan. As a result, his thoughts may have led us in the right direction, but there will always be someone to replace old concepts with new ones. As time progresses, most great statements remain true in some ways, while being discredited in others due to new knowledge. He would probably love to know that there's millions of people still using his ideas to expand man's collective knowledge, as an true scientist would.
    Last edited by Eulogy; 25-Oct-2013 at 06:21.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eulogy View Post
    Jokes aside: It is my conclusion that what you're referring to, Darwin's Theory of Evolution, is indeed correct.
    I didn't read his comment this way. My interpretation is that people have a tendency to refer to "The Theory of Evolution" in such broad terms that the phrase has become more of a colloquialism than a reference to one specific theory or paradigm reliably enough to be scientifically useful.

    I do take issue with his use of the term myth but I'm not bothering to make hay over that point. It's a discussion that won't go anywhere fruitful.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by AEsahaettr View Post
    Your phrasing "the necessity of selection" is somewhat dubious. It strikes me as one to imply that evolution is purpose-driven, which it is not.
    Well, I can't say for certain whether or not there is a purpose to life but I see your point. I was using the term as we would see it looking at it from our perspective today. In order for us to have evolved to our present condition through natural selection certain steps would have been necessary along the way. Whether these steps were purely mechanical or divinely inspired is a matter of belief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eulogy View Post
    In short: Darwin was fairly intelligent, and had some great points. Though, as with all men of knowledge, he was limited by what he could construct in his lifespan. As a result, his thoughts may have led us in the right direction, but there will always be someone to replace old concepts with new ones. As time progresses, most great statements remain true in some ways, while being discredited in others due to new knowledge. He would probably love to know that there's millions of people still using his ideas to expand man's collective knowledge, as an true scientist would.
    Yeah, I agree. Natural selection was pretty much Darwin's baby and he was certainly proud of it. I'm sure he would have been happy to know this hypothisis was still going strong 150 years later. I doubt he would find present day evolution theories shocking, except possibly "quantum evolution". He was a proponent of gradual evolution but he was aware the fossil record didn't entirely support gradualism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AEsahaettr View Post
    I didn't read his comment this way. My interpretation is that people have a tendency to refer to "The Theory of Evolution" in such broad terms that the phrase has become more of a colloquialism than a reference to one specific theory or paradigm reliably enough to be scientifically useful.
    True. I enjoy discussions on evolution but it get's a little frustrating when people make sweeping statements about how "The Theory of Evolution" has so much evidence to support it, or how nearly all the scientists agree with it. If you ask which theory of evolution they are talking about you tend to get branded as a creationist.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter
    True. I enjoy discussions on evolution but it get's a little frustrating when people make sweeping statements about how "The Theory of Evolution" has so much evidence to support it, or how nearly all the scientists agree with it. If you ask which theory of evolution they are talking about you tend to get branded as a creationist.

    In order for us to have evolved to our present condition through natural selection certain steps would have been necessary along the way. Whether these steps were purely mechanical or divinely inspired is a matter of belief.
    I'm not sure what you mean by mechanical but that bolded part is basically creationism. Creationism is the religious belief that life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being.

    It's sort of confusing to me what exactly your frustrated about when you seem to dislike being branded a creationist (if you asked that), yet it would appear you consider some creationist tenets worthy of discussion in an evolutionary context. Then I'm even more confused as to why creationism is in an evolution discussion, unless this "theory of evolution" your discussing also includes theological evolution in it. That I would consider more of a theological/philosophical discussion rather than talking about evolutionary mechanisms such as genetic drift.

    I'm getting confused by your terms and what you really mean by some of them.



    Maybe I'm beating a dead horse here but I am curious about how many would agree with this assessment.
    Let's look at the God Particle. Who named it the God particle? The greater public. Who dislikes it majorly? Scientists. What do a great number of the public think of it? It somehow disproves God or whatever.

    In someway I sense your frustration and get it, but whatever characteristics the public has given it, the Higgs-Boson particle hasn't changed.

    Fun fact, this is why there are some scientists that make it their career to explain science to people, like to congress in terms of policy.

  8. #8

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    Boy there is a lot of ways to answer this.

    Speaking as someone with a BS in Biology with an emphasis on Ecology and Botany. Darwinism is a good explanation for gradual change, however there is more evidence for the ability to thrive and adapt in extreme conditions. Basically environmental conditions are the cause and evolution is the effect.

    Current issues that I have seen are skewed by bias and questionable practices make it hard to make a educated decision as to the validity of the new theories. But there again Darwinism has covered the test of time and the new theories have to go through the same test, but in are current society they want the same results with out the effort. "Patients grasshopper".

    Now as a Christian; Creation does not apply itself to the scientific test. After living on the Hopi Indian Reservation I even had the "Biblical" creation challenged and there is still questions that need to be asked. However, with an open mind I still see evolution with divine guidance. But this gets into an entire different discussion. The Hopi story of creation actually fallows earth geological history.

  9. #9

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    The Native American observations of nature and history are interesting. I read "Red Earth, White Lies" and really enjoyed it. It would suggest there is a lot of false information generated by white scientists from the 19th century, things regarding mass extinction such as the Mastodons. It's worth reading.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogboy View Post
    The Native American observations of nature and history are interesting. I read "Red Earth, White Lies" and really enjoyed it. It would suggest there is a lot of false information generated by white scientists from the 19th century, things regarding mass extinction such as the Mastodons. It's worth reading.
    The other thing that is very interesting is that the "Creationists" argument for "Mitochondrial Eve" proves the Hopi story of creation and not the Jewish/Christian version. One of those things that make you go "HUM".

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