Defining evolution
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04-03-2013, 03:13 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(01-03-2013 09:06 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Does anyone take issue with this definition of evolution?

Evolution is a process whereby small changes in the heritiable
characteristics of a population accumulate thru a selective filter over successive
generations. The accumulation of these changes ultimately result in significant increase in one or more of the following: complexity, diversity, and knowledge.

When I discuss evolution in this forum in the future this is the definition I intend to use. I want this thread to be about any objections or suggested modifications to this definition of evolution.
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/ev...ntro.shtml Wrote:Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations).
That is the simplest definition of evolution I can possibly find without finding an uneducated child.

For a bit more depth: Descent with modification; Modifications/Variations (mutations as we now know them) will be passed down generations and the variation will increase until speciation occurs (or of course, the species dies out before speciating)

That's evolution for you, if it does not suit your own definition, have fun with the bias.

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04-03-2013, 03:21 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 02:56 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(04-03-2013 01:46 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  I want to use one of your guy's definition or modify my definition with your you guys input. Your criticism doesn't apply here. Also, there is nothing wrong with using your own definition if it is substantially correct. My definition included all the elements of an evolutionary process. There been some minor nitpicking of terms but it is substantially correct.

The biggest flaw in my original definition that you guys have exposed is the last sentence where I claimed evolution leads to an increase in diversity, complexity, and knowledge. I agree that evolution doesn't always lead to those things, but it can. It also can lead a decrease in those things so my original sentence was one sided. This is a perfect example of why I presented the definition to this forum. To expose the flaws in it.

Now if I asked an educated atheist on the street what is the explaination for the diversity and complexity of life, their response would surely be biological evolution(and they be right...in some sense at least). I don't think it is out of line to include a sentence that says something about the impact evolutionary processes have on reality.
Were you simply trying to describe it in your own terms, that would be one thing, but you were attempting to assign your own definition. That ends up in exactly what this thread (I guess since I have not read any of it) is about, definition debating.

Either use the accepted definition for a word, or use a different word. If you use or assign your own definition, you are making the water intentionally murky so that it becomes either A) unclear what you are arguing for B) unclear what anyone responding is arguing for or against C) or makes the definition intentionally ambiguous and/or weak in some aspect of it so as to set up a straw-man.

Someone educated in science is likely to say that the reason we have such biological diversity today is because of evolution. That is not because evolution leads towards complexity (often organisms will reduce complexity in favor of a simpler solution through time). The diversity and complexity of our ecosystems is a function of evolution plus other internal and external factors, such as environment, climate, volcanism, the Earth's magnetic field, earthquakes, tectonic rearrangement of lithospheric plates, and even celestial factors like variability in solar input and output, impacts from bolides, magnetic storms, etc.

The complexity and diversity in the biological system are a function of evolution + time + distances+ and the other aforementioned factors. It is easier to regard the whole process as evolution, but that is not entirely accurate. Now, if one were to apply the term of evolution more loosely, it could be argued that biological diversity is a function of the Evolution of the Earth (that would include tectonics and climate) and Cosmological Evolution (the cycle of stars).

I admit I wrote my own defintion for evolution but I did not re-define the word as you suggest. If, say on a science test, I submitted my defintion as the answer to the question "Define in your own words what is evolution" I am sure the instructor would have given me credit for a correct answer.
In the end I will probably use one of Ghost's definition.
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04-03-2013, 03:23 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 03:21 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(04-03-2013 02:56 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Were you simply trying to describe it in your own terms, that would be one thing, but you were attempting to assign your own definition. That ends up in exactly what this thread (I guess since I have not read any of it) is about, definition debating.

Either use the accepted definition for a word, or use a different word. If you use or assign your own definition, you are making the water intentionally murky so that it becomes either A) unclear what you are arguing for B) unclear what anyone responding is arguing for or against C) or makes the definition intentionally ambiguous and/or weak in some aspect of it so as to set up a straw-man.

Someone educated in science is likely to say that the reason we have such biological diversity today is because of evolution. That is not because evolution leads towards complexity (often organisms will reduce complexity in favor of a simpler solution through time). The diversity and complexity of our ecosystems is a function of evolution plus other internal and external factors, such as environment, climate, volcanism, the Earth's magnetic field, earthquakes, tectonic rearrangement of lithospheric plates, and even celestial factors like variability in solar input and output, impacts from bolides, magnetic storms, etc.

The complexity and diversity in the biological system are a function of evolution + time + distances+ and the other aforementioned factors. It is easier to regard the whole process as evolution, but that is not entirely accurate. Now, if one were to apply the term of evolution more loosely, it could be argued that biological diversity is a function of the Evolution of the Earth (that would include tectonics and climate) and Cosmological Evolution (the cycle of stars).

I admit I wrote my own defintion for evolution but I did not re-define the word as you suggest. If, say on a science test, I submitted my defintion as the answer to the question "Define in your own words what is evolution" I am sure the instructor would have given me credit for a correct answer.
In the end I will probably use one of Ghost's definition.
No, you would get points off for:
"The accumulation of these changes ultimately result in significant increase in one or more of the following: complexity, diversity, and knowledge."

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04-03-2013, 03:30 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 03:23 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(04-03-2013 03:21 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  I admit I wrote my own defintion for evolution but I did not re-define the word as you suggest. If, say on a science test, I submitted my defintion as the answer to the question "Define in your own words what is evolution" I am sure the instructor would have given me credit for a correct answer.
In the end I will probably use one of Ghost's definition.
No, you would get points off for:
"The accumulation of these changes ultimately result in significant increase in one or more of the following: complexity, diversity, and knowledge."
I've already admitted, because of peoples criticism here, that this sentence is flawed.
But if I wrote instead, "Evolutionary processes explain much of the complexity, diversity and knowledge we observe today" I would not get points off.
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04-03-2013, 03:32 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 03:30 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(04-03-2013 03:23 PM)Chas Wrote:  No, you would get points off for:
"The accumulation of these changes ultimately result in significant increase in one or more of the following: complexity, diversity, and knowledge."
I've already admitted, because of peoples criticism here, that this sentence is flawed.
But if I wrote instead, "Evolutionary processes explain much of the complexity, diversity and knowledge we observe today" I would not get points off.
I have no idea what you mean by 'knowledge' in the context of evolution. Evolution has no explanative power about knowledge.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
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04-03-2013, 03:45 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 03:32 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(04-03-2013 03:30 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  I've already admitted, because of peoples criticism here, that this sentence is flawed.
But if I wrote instead, "Evolutionary processes explain much of the complexity, diversity and knowledge we observe today" I would not get points off.
I have no idea what you mean by 'knowledge' in the context of evolution. Evolution has no explanative power about knowledge.
"Information" might be a better choice of words than "knowledge". As Ghost suggested earlier, look into memetic evolution.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memetics


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04-03-2013, 04:39 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 02:33 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(04-03-2013 01:58 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  But what I think you are really trying to get at is that the process of evolution can be "created" in a non-biological sense. And if it can be created by us, then surely a god can have his hand in the biological evolution.

This all comes down to the idea that you can't accept that human beings and all life for that matter weren't the product of some creation, in much the same way that a non-biological self evolving computer program must have had a programmer to create it in the first place.

A wooden chair has a carpenter therefore a tree must have a creator.
It doesn't work that way.
Maybe I will make that argument.....maybe not. You haven't heard my argument so your not in a position to claim you know what it is going to be about. This thread is about coming up with a definition of evolution that can be used in arguments. I would think many of you atheists would appreciate an argument made by a thiest that used YOUR terms and definitions.
(03-03-2013 03:08 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  I think a lot of atheists on this forum would reject my definition simply because I, a theist, wrote it and therefore it must be wrong. I think they would be more accepting of your defintion.

Well I hope your next attempt is nothing like the first. They aren't atheist terms, they're the definitions that best suit reality. You keep making this about atheism and theism, which we have pointed out doesn't matter in scientific debates so long as you know what your talking about. It doesn't matter if a theist or an atheist makes a argument, it is right as long as it is based on sound logic and wrong if it is not. So stop playing the "You just say that because I'm a theist" card, it's childish.

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04-03-2013, 07:07 PM
RE: Defining evolution
(04-03-2013 03:13 PM)Free Thought Wrote:  
(01-03-2013 09:06 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Does anyone take issue with this definition of evolution?

Evolution is a process whereby small changes in the heritiable
characteristics of a population accumulate thru a selective filter over successive
generations. The accumulation of these changes ultimately result in significant increase in one or more of the following: complexity, diversity, and knowledge.

When I discuss evolution in this forum in the future this is the definition I intend to use. I want this thread to be about any objections or suggested modifications to this definition of evolution.
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/ev...ntro.shtml Wrote:Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations).
That is the simplest definition of evolution I can possibly find without finding an uneducated child.

For a bit more depth: Descent with modification; Modifications/Variations (mutations as we now know them) will be passed down generations and the variation will increase until speciation occurs (or of course, the species dies out before speciating)

That's evolution for you, if it does not suit your own definition, have fun with the bias.
"Descent with modification" has a biological connotation to it so does "speciation". The more general the definition the less bias it will be.
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04-03-2013, 07:12 PM (This post was last modified: 04-03-2013 07:20 PM by Ghost.)
RE: Defining evolution
As the resident memeticist round these here parts, I feel the need to speak up on this matter.

Hey, Wood.

That video was doooooooooope!

For real, that was wicked Cool

If anyone would like a good primer on memetic theory, watch that video.

Hey, BD.

Quote:I have no idea what you mean by 'knowledge' in the context of evolution. Evolution has no explanative power about knowledge.

Evolution ABSOLUTELY has explanative power about knowledge.

Wood has made it clear from the outset that he's talking about Universal Darwinism rather than simple biological evolution. He wants to know about evolution itself, not simply how it affects the development of biological organisms. The two KNOWN replicators we have on Earth are the gene and the meme. A meme is a unit of cultural transmission. All knowledge is a cultural construct that is transmitted memetically. All knowledge is subject to evolution. This is why Wood is discussing knowledge in the context of evolution. Put simply, it belongs there.

Hey, Rahn.

Quote:But what I think you are really trying to get at is that the process of
evolution can be "created" in a non-biological sense. And if it can be
created by us, then surely a god can have his hand in the biological
evolution.

Don't worry, brother. If he tries to go there, I'll nab him. But as far as I can tell, he isn't. But you're gonna have to get used to the fact that evolution isn't just for genes anymore Cool

Hey, Wood, Part II: Electric Boogaloo.

Quote:But if I wrote instead, "Evolutionary processes explain much of the
complexity, diversity and knowledge we observe today" I would not get
points off.

Actually evolution explains ALL of the complexity, diversity and knowledge.

That being said, I still don't think that this sentence of yours belongs in a definition. "Gravity makes rocks fall," doesn't belong in a definition of gravity either.

Quote:"Information" might be a better choice of words than "knowledge".

No it would not. Absolutely not.

Replicators, be they genes or memes, ARE information.

Knowledge is the RESULT of expressing memes.

Stick with knowledge, just shitcan that sentence.

Is there a particular reason that you like that sentence so much? Is there some point that you're trying to get across? Perhaps we can find a better way to express it.

ON EDIT:

Quote: "Descent with modification" has a biological connotation to it so does "speciation". The more general the definition the less bias it will be.

Descent has no biological connotation. Universal Darwinism talks about heredity. Descent simply means a chain of inheritance. Descent absolutely applies to memetics. Just ask the 1980s:





Neither does modification have a biological connotation. Modification can be anything from mutation to engineering. All replicators are modified over time.

Speciation absolutely has a biological connotation. That's why I suggest you use cladogenesis. Cladistics is a taxonomic term, not a biological one. Clades can be biological, cultural or any other thing that applies to heretofore unknown replicators.

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