On Sunday, September 2, 2012 3:57:40 PM UTC-4, Brent wrote:
>  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 whole premise that you start out with a prop engine and that there 
exists the possibility of improving it until it is a jet is about purpose. 
My point is that evolution can't come up with any designs. There is no 'it' 
there to tell the difference between one design and another. There is only 
the fact of reproductive outcomes in hindsight. It can and does go through 
states which are inferior at reproducing. Homo sapiens have faced near 
extinction several times. 

>  The terms improvement and degradation superimpose a pseudo-teleology on 
> evolution. 
> No they are just relative to reproductive fitness.

Not in the long term. What makes something successfully reproduce in one 
environment is precisely what may cause its extinction when that 
environment changes.

>  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.

They are both random with respect to the organisms, so what would be the 


> 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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