On 9/2/2012 12:36 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:


On Sunday, September 2, 2012 3:28:26 PM UTC-4, Brent wrote:

    On 9/2/2012 9:09 AM, John Clark wrote:
    > 6) Evolution has no foresight: This is the most important reason of all.
    >     A jet engine works better than a prop engine in an airplane. I give 
you a
    >     prop engine and tell you to turn it into a jet, but you must do it 
while
    >     the engine is running, you must do it in one million small steps, and 
you
    >     must do it so every one of those small steps immediately improves
    > the operation
    >     of the engine. Eventually you would get an improved engine of some
    > sort, but it
    >     wouldn't look anything like a jet.

    Good exposition.  But it's not the case every small step must be an 
improvement.  It's
    sufficient that it not be a degradation.


It seems like both of you are attributing to evolution some kind of universal 
fitness.

Not at all. In fact John was, in part, explaining why evolution often comes up with poor designs - because it's constrained by evolving what already exists and it can't go thru intermediate designs that are inferior at reproducing.

The terms improvement and degradation superimpose a pseudo-teleology on 
evolution.

No they are just relative to reproductive fitness.

In reality, if your island is suddenly underwater, whoever happens to have the leftover semi-gills stands a better chance of surviving and reproducing than the otherwise superior other species. It has nothing to do with improvement, it's just an accumulation of environmental shakeouts. Survival of the lucky.

That's the natural selection.  The other part is the random variation.

Brent
"And to think of this great country in danger of being dominated
by people ignorant enough to take a few ancient Babylonian legends
as the canons of modern culture. Our scientific men are paying for
their failure to speak out earlier. There is no use now talking
evolution to these people. Their ears are stuffed with Genesis."
    --- Luther Burbank, on the Scopes trial

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