Evolution and Purpose

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Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:47 am

For those who truly understand evolution and who talk about it relatively frequently, I'm sure you've often found it frustrating to find that the simplest way to talk about evolution often involves using the concept of 'purpose' or 'teleology'.

From the wiki on teleology:
Wikipedia wrote:Some disciplines, in particular within evolutionary biology, are still prone to use language that appears teleological when they describe natural tendencies towards certain end conditions; but these arguments can almost always be rephrased in non-teleological forms.


Alternatively, some thinkers don't find teleological language a problem when talking about evolution. It's not something that needs to be avoided or explained away -- purpose can be part of a legitimate paradigm of evolution:
Nick Lane wrote:In his celebrated book Chance and Necessity, the committed atheist and Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Jacques Monod tackled the theme of purpose. Plainly, he said, it is pointless to discuss the heart without mentioning that it is a pump, whose function is to pump blood around the body. But that is to ascribe purpose. Worse, if we were to say that the heart evolved to pump blood, we would be committing the ultimate sin of teleology – the assignment of a forward-looking purpose, a predetermined end-point to an evolutionary trajectory. But the heart could hardly have evolved ‘for’ anything else; if it didn’t evolve to pump blood, then it is truly a miracle that it happened to become so fine a pump. Monod’s point was that biology is full of purpose and apparent trajectories, and it is perverse to pretend they don’t exist; rather, we must explain them. The question we must answer is this: how does the operation of blind chance, a random mechanism without foresight, bring about the exquisitely refined and purposeful biological machines that we see all around us?


Personally, I think that the purpose and teleology are inappropriate in the context of evolution -- evolution has no 'goal' whatsoever, and is certainly incapable of 'intention' -- but I think Nick Lane makes an interesting case. The way I'm reading what he writes is, it's almost like a re-claiming of the word 'purpose' -- much like compatiblists use a definition of free will that can work within determinism, perhaps he's suggesting a conception of purpose that doesn't depend on intentions or goals, that's truly compatible with the mindless process of evolution.

Or maybe I'm reading him completely wrong, and he's just using the standard conception of purpose, in which case he can perform fellatio on a dwarf.

So, in closing, I'd like to link to a series of articles on Evolution that I found incredibly entertaining and also quite insightful: LessWrong
and also I'd like to ask those who understand evolution what you think about the relationship between Evolution and Purpose.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Amorphos » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:24 pm

You say evolution has no purpose, and yet every living thing within it does. I expect you’ll also un-include the consciousness factor, and that DNA begins with all that is required for every eventual species. That given increasing consciousness and dexterity in creatures, you get ever greater utility of environments.

I agree that there is probably no overall teleology, but there is general and specific teleology. There appears at least in practice to be a drive which ultimately results in humans [so far anyways]. I mean if everything is trying to improve [the drive] then its only a matter of time [ok many millions of years] before you get opposable thumbs and higher intelligence.

Imho you would actually have to have something there to stop that happening, or its just going to happen ~ but you don’t have that.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby James S Saint » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:22 pm

Teleology and purpose are the same thing.

Due to the Logic of the Situation, any universe will produce entities of purpose (such as animals and humans) from a prior state of purposeless entities and visa-versa. Evolution is merely an epistemological child of causality.

But despite wishful thinking, such has nothing to do with the God issue, for or against.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony :)
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:36 pm

Sorry to Amorphos, I didn't make something clear: I was aiming this thread towards people who have a deep understanding of evolution. Not really interested in the whole 'Drive to create humans' thing -- quite a strange thing to say, given that there's been a sample size of 1, and that actually most branches of evolution haven't resulted in humans...So no, Amorphos, you're not in my target audience.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Amorphos » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:51 pm

Sorry I am not your target audience, but I stand by my points.
Sample of one? What, the ultimate example of the drive?

So what if most branches of evolution has not resulted in humans, they are necessarily lesser examples.

Would you sate that evolution is purely random? When every species are trying to advance their position.
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Genius is the result of the entire product of man.
The cosmic insignificance of humanity, shows the cosmic insignificance of a universe without humanity.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:03 pm

James S Saint wrote:Teleology and purpose are the same thing.

Due to the Logic of the Situation, any universe will produce entities of purpose (such as animals and humans) from a prior state of purposeless entities and visa-versa. Evolution is merely an epistemological child of causality.

But despite wishful thinking, such has nothing to do with the God issue, for or against.

Yes, teleology and purpose are the same thing.

I don't know that any universe will produce entities of purpose...don't know how you derived that. It may be based on some intriguing ideas that you've heard/read, but you're talking about it like it's settled science, or obvious fact. I don't think that that's the case. In fact, I imagine a good deal of scientists would think that some universes could actually not produce 'entities of purpose'. But, I look forward to seeing your evidence to the contrary.
I can, to some degree, see how one could see evolution is a process that creates apparent purpose from a prior state of purposelessness (in loose senses of the word) -- this is a common view of evolution -- how 'purpose' can arise without any explicit goal turning the gears.

Not talking about God here. Didn't mention God once. God is not an issue in this thread. This is about evolution.

Amorphos wrote:Sorry I am not your target audience, but I stand by my points.

And they remain as bad as they were before. You may continue to ramble about your confusions about evolution, you'll get no arguments from me. I've given my only one: there have been millions of different branches of evolution, and only one tiny one has resulted in human life, so it's nothing short of retarded to take that information and posit that human life is clearly the goal of evolution. That would be like seeing a dice being thrown 6000 times and only seeing a 1 twice, and then saying that clearly the dice is biased towards 1...except it's like a billion times worse than that. This thread was geared toward those who understand the concept of evolution, and how it is understood to work. It was not geared towards you and the other mystics. I'm not interested in your ideas, so no more arguments from me.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Moreno » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:05 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:Personally, I think that the purpose and teleology are inappropriate in the context of evolution
When does it become meaningful to speak of goals in nature - which would be everything to a naturlist empiricist - especially within a deterministic worldview? I can't see where purpose enters the picture. I can see it as a kind of metaphor, but really we just have an inevitable unfolding of events, both on the macro of evolution and on the micro (or one micro) of individual creatures' - including humans' - actions. It seems to me there would be no teleology or purpose anywhere, though perhaps purpose qualia.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby James S Saint » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:31 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:I don't know that any universe will produce entities of purpose...don't know how you derived that.

From logical consequence. Basically, the universe we have is there because there was absolutely no alternative.
Despite theoretical imaginings, there can be no universe with a different set of physical laws.

Flannel Jesus wrote:It may be based on some intriguing ideas that you've heard/read, but you're talking about it like it's settled science, or obvious fact. I don't think that that's the case. In fact, I imagine a good deal of scientists would think that some universes could actually not produce 'entities of purpose'. But, I look forward to seeing your evidence to the contrary.

Oh you know me. Rational Metaphysics views Science theories in a similar light as Science views 7 day Creationism.
The subject is actually in the realm of Metaphysics/Logic, not Science (verification of hypotheses).

Moreno wrote:I can see it [purpose] as a kind of metaphor, but really we just have an inevitable unfolding of events..

All epistemology is metaphor in one way or another.

We speak of objects "trying" to do things because of the forces within. We speak of "forces", even though down on the most fundamental level of the universe, there is no such thing as a "force". We speak of the universe "creating" situations as though it had a design in mind.

Speaking of the universe as though it was a living entity is not actually incorrect, it is merely easily misunderstood. But then equally, speaking of the universe as though it were merely a mechanism is also misleading.

It's pretty tough to come up with a language of thought that cannot get misconstrued by connotations.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony :)
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
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Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:31 pm

Having studied evolution for many, many years, there are a couple of points.
that need to be remembered.
First, when people think of evolution, they think of EVOLUTION, a grand sweeping
event that moves through history. UH, no. the simple version without all the big words is
when two members of a species mate, the male sperm and the female egg meet, introduce each other,
whisper sweet nothings in each other ear and unite. uniting the written programing each separate
party has, the DNA, is in fact evolution. This uniting, passes traits each party has to the next generation.
Now you may have two people who are very tall and they mate, now chances are the union will produce tall
children, but the key word here is chance. It may turn out the dominant trait passed on in regards to height
might make the children smaller then the parents and the recessive trait of height is passed down to a later
generation which means at some point down the line, the next generation perhaps, suddenly the children will
get tall. this is evolution in a nutshell. The random mixing of information that occurs when the egg and
sperm combine. there is no purpose here, just the chance mixing of information.

The second aspect here is this idea of traits. Traits like being tall or having more or less hair, blue eyes
are passed down from generation to generation via mating. Now traits play a role by allowing
a species to have traits that give it a better chance to survive the current environment that the
species lives in. So if it is cold, a species like wolves have a better chance of surviving the cold
by having long hair. So if that trait is passed down from generation to generation, the wolves
stand a better chance, (there is that word again) of surviving. Evolution from the mixing
of information to withstanding the environment with inherited traits is all about chance, probability.
There is no purpose in chance or probability and evolution is all about chance, probability.


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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:09 pm

Peter Kropotkin wrote:There is no purpose in chance or probability and evolution is all about chance, probability.

Yes, this is the standard view, one that matches well with the current state of professional thought on evolution.

Sadly, for every creationist who misunderstands evolution to be purposeful, there is an atheist/agnostic out there who claims to accept and understand evolution but makes the same mistake. They will deny the role of chance / probability in evolution, thinking that somehow natural selection necessarily always selects the fittest every single time or some other weird nonsense like that. They often misunderstand evolution as bad as the creationists do.

According to my sources, actually, we have a good mathematical understanding of evolution in regards to our tree of life, and one of the facts about evolution is this: any mutation which gives +x% advantage to an individual only has a 2x% chance of propagating throughout the species. So, in other words, if an individual has a mutation that gives +3% advantage, that mutation only has a 6% probability of becoming a species-wide trait. So, to all those who claim to accept and understand evolution, let's not attribute to evolution anything other than what it is: a statistical tendency that occurs in self-replicating matter, with a heavy dependence on probability and chance. Let us not try to pretend that natural selection is this purposeful, perfect mechanism. It's not.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby James S Saint » Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:23 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:According to my sources, actually, we have a good mathematical understanding of evolution in regards to our tree of life, and one of the facts about evolution is this: any mutation which gives +x% advantage to an individual only has a 2x% chance of propagating throughout the species. So, in other words, if an individual has a mutation that gives +3% advantage, that mutation only has a 6% probability of becoming a species-wide trait. So, to all those who claim to accept and understand evolution, let's not attribute to evolution anything other than what it is: a statistical tendency that occurs in self-replicating matter, with a heavy dependence on probability and chance. Let us not try to pretend that natural selection is this purposeful, perfect mechanism. It's not.

Well now wait. I don't have anything against the general notion of evolution. But as with all arguments between Science and Religion, there is this tendency to proclaim total ownership of causality from even the most meager theoretical/theological influence.

Earlier it was stated that evolution is NOT purely random chance. That was a true statement. As a result of that condition, evolution does in fact lead toward a "foreseeable" goal or direction (whether foreseen or not). There are specifics that guide the trend into the species and somewhat control the eventual long term consequences. Many of those specifics have absolutely nothing to do with the organism itself, but rather the environment that it happen to be in when it gained its otherwise advantage-trait.

This is relevant in the discussion because a great deal of religious thought is all about that environmental influence. The notion that evolution is MERELY an issue of statistics is just flat out incorrect.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony :)
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
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Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:29 pm

You misunderstood what I said.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby James S Saint » Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:38 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:You misunderstood what I said.

Perhaps, and my apologies, but;
we have a good mathematical understanding of evolution in regards to our tree of life, and one of the facts about evolution is this: any mutation which gives +x% advantage to an individual only has a 2x% chance of propagating throughout the species.

I don't believe that is doable.. for the reasons that I mentioned.

Those figures would be VERY dependent upon the situation in every case. Someone is leaving out the extremely relevant detail concerning the environmental situation and the counter effects that any situation will have.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony :)
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
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Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:25 pm

Oh I didn't know you were an expert on the math of evolution. Here's my source:
Haldane, J. B. S. 1927. A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection.
Where's yours?

I think you don't understand what that statement means. The fact that you somehow came to think that I don't think the environment has any affect on what's advantageous tells me that you didn't actually attempt to understand what I was talking about. You just read your own shit into it so you could come up with your retort.

I don't care that you think it's not 'doable'. The study of the math of evolution is not something I just pulled out of my ass. It's a legitimate field of research, and it's not new either. The fact that you're unaquainted with it is forgivable, but the fact that you think it's 'undoable' is ridiculous. You telling me that mathematical calculations about evolution are undoable is akin to a 5 year old telling a mathematics professor that it's impossible to accurately calculate the area under a parabola -- YOU may not be able to calculate the area, but you sure as hell don't know anything about what's possible with advanced mathematics.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby fuse » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:08 pm

Nick Lane wrote:But the heart could hardly have evolved ‘for’ anything else; if it didn’t evolve to pump blood, then it is truly a miracle that it happened to become so fine a pump. Monod’s point was that biology is full of purpose and apparent trajectories, and it is perverse to pretend they don’t exist; rather, we must explain them.

I really think he's just waxing romantic about the heart. But I agree there is a need to explain how such intricate and tailored biology developed.

Nick Lane wrote:The question we must answer is this: how does the operation of blind chance, a random mechanism without foresight, bring about the exquisitely refined and purposeful biological machines that we see all around us?

Jacques Monod wrote Chance and Necessity in the sixties (published in 1970), I'm willing to bet there's been research done since then, if not by then, which goes a long way toward answering this question.


Hold on, it looks like Monod adopted a new concept of purpose, teleonomic, to contrast with teleological. Flannel you should read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleonomic
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:14 pm

James S Saint:
Earlier it was stated that evolution is NOT purely random chance. That was a true statement. As a result of that condition, evolution does in fact lead toward a "foreseeable" goal or direction (whether foreseen or not). There are specifics that guide the trend into the species and somewhat control the eventual long term consequences. Many of those specifics have absolutely nothing to do with the organism itself, but rather the environment that it happen to be in when it gained its otherwise advantage-trait.

K: I hate to break it to you, but no. evolution doesn't lead toward any goal, "foreseeable or not" it simply doesn't work that way.
it is about the random mixing of DNA and that random mixing may or may not be able to allow one to survive the environment.
anteaters cannot make their snouts any longer to eat ants which allows their survival, but the anteaters who are born with longer
snouts have an advantage over their brethren who have small snouts. anteaters who have longer snout who bred with
other anteaters with longer snouts will in time (and here comes the key word) possibly have have a better chance of survival in
their environment depending on changes in their environment. there is no certainty in any of this. just probability and chance.

JAMES: This is relevant in the discussion because a great deal of religious thought is all about that environmental influence. The notion that evolution is MERELY an issue of statistics is just flat out incorrect.:"

K: as evolution is mating and the creation of the next generation via the mixing of DNA which is about chance and probability,
evolution really is sex and statistics. religious thought has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution, two separate matters
alltogether.

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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:42 pm

fuse quoting Nick Lane: But the heart could hardly have evolved ‘for’ anything else; if it didn’t evolve to pump blood, then it is truly a miracle that it happened to become so fine a pump. Monod’s point was that biology is full of purpose and apparent trajectories, and it is perverse to pretend they don’t exist; rather, we must explain them.:

Fuse: I really think he's just waxing romantic about the heart. But I agree there is a need to explain how such intricate and tailored biology developed.

K: Now we hit the third aspect of evolution which is time. Life has been around for TWO billion years and quite possibly more, so we return
to evolution. Have you ever been in a really old house or church that had doors that were really small, that is because people were smaller
a thousand or two thousand years ago. The average American is 5"7 or 5'8 feet tall, the average roman was 5'2 or 5'3 feet tall. (simply
pull out roman people who were buried and measure their bones, we have lots of them.) This is evolution at work over time. You are different
then your parents and that difference is evolution.

Nick Lane: The question we must answer is this: how does the operation of blind chance, a random mechanism without foresight, bring about the exquisitely refined and purposeful biological machines that we see all around us?

K; given two billion years to refine itself is time enough to create everything around us. Every single generation since the beginning has
somehow change and that is millions upon millions of generations that has changed. our blood, our hearts, our brains weren't created
in the last twenty minutes. They are the product of millions of generations of change from the beginning of time. the less successful
changes didn't survive and are collecting dust in museums. Cro Magnon and neanderthals are two examples of hominids that didn't survive
due to chance and probability. We are relatively efficient beings and that efficiency comes from millions of years of change, not being
created, as religions demand. I have no friggen idea who Nick lane is, but he sounds like a creationist, and they are by definition, confused.

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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:53 pm

fuse wrote:Hold on, it looks like Monod adopted a new concept of purpose, teleonomic, to contrast with teleological. Flannel you should read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleonomic

That's perfect for this thread! Thanks for that link, I'll try to remember that word.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby James S Saint » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:17 am

Well, okay guys. From what you have said, I now have the impression that either A) neither of you actually understand evolution beyond the very most simple-minded standpoint or B) what they are calling evolution today is seriously different and less than what it has meant for many years.

So educate me here.
1) Are you saying that the process called "evolution" is no more than merely the mutation process? If not, what else does it include?
2) Are you proposing that the process of evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with advancement of a species in any way, such that it is just as likely to retard due to evolution as advance?
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony :)
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Moreno » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:31 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:According to my sources, actually, we have a good mathematical understanding of evolution in regards to our tree of life, and one of the facts about evolution is this: any mutation which gives +x% advantage to an individual only has a 2x% chance of propagating throughout the species. So, in other words, if an individual has a mutation that gives +3% advantage, that mutation only has a 6% probability of becoming a species-wide trait.
How does one calculate the % of an advantage?

Neutral traits should be able to catch on. What would the math be on those?

My math has long since dried up, it's been too many years, but I have to say I am a little skeptical about this also. Not because the math is wrong, I wouldn't venture to get into that. It's just calculating how advantageous something is seems beyond our capabilities. I can see guessing, but given the amount of factors.

But maybe I misunderstood what is meant by the '+X% advantage'.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby James S Saint » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:04 am

Moreno wrote:How does one calculate the % of an advantage?

Neutral traits should be able to catch on. What would the math be on those?

My math has long since dried up, it's been too many years, but I have to say I am a little skeptical about this also. Not because the math is wrong, I wouldn't venture to get into that. It's just calculating how advantageous something is seems beyond our capabilities. I can see guessing, but given the amount of factors.

But maybe I misunderstood what is meant by the '+X% advantage'.

Ohhhh...
... you stole my punchline.
:lol:
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony :)
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:30 am

You don't have to be able to calculate the advantage any specific trait gives, you just have to accept the premise that a trait could give you a % advantage. If you can accept that, then you can calculate, given a certain % advantage, the trait's likelihood of fixating in a population on a given instance is only 2 times that percentage.

I can't give you the derivation of that, but I gave you the source already.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:37 am

James S Saint wrote:Well, okay guys. From what you have said, I now have the impression that either A) neither of you actually understand evolution beyond the very most simple-minded standpoint or B) what they are calling evolution today is seriously different and less than what it has meant for many years.

So educate me here.
1) Are you saying that the process called "evolution" is no more than merely the mutation process? If not, what else does it include?
2) Are you proposing that the process of evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with advancement of a species in any way, such that it is just as likely to retard due to evolution as advance?

If you don't understand that natural selection is a purposeless process (hence the word NATURAL, meaning it doesn't need any guidance, it happens naturally on it's own) and that evolution has no goal, then you don't understand evolution. You are a christian after all, so it's to be expected. I wouldn't expect a christian to get it.

Evolution has meant this for a long, long, long time. If you think evolution has the explicit purpose of 'advancing' a species, then you're understanding is below the most simple-minded standpoint. But, again, you are a christian...
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby nameta9 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:58 am

1) Evolution is a theory that can be explained perfectly only with words and concepts, and in fact applying mathematics to the theory will give you a less accurate theory and idea, a case where mathematics takes you farther away from the precision and understanding of the theory not closer.

2) There are really no explanations, nothing that must be explained or known or figured out within the process of evolution: it is just a long chain of casual actions and reactions, each step a totally random fluke, that leads to some temporary useful "functionality" (for the item) within a very random, quirky, temporary environment that will surely change, and change again and forever.

3) A good way to understand it : take a walk outside, find the first 3 pebbles on the street, measure the distance between them and write down the numbers. Now explain why those are the numbers. Explain the exact sequence of events from present time minus a billion years that lead up to those 3 pebbles being exactly there. Now that is the same random, intractable sequence of events that lead to a human and his mind, or a dog or a fish (or a mountain shape, or a cloud shape) etc.

Hope that clears it up somewhat.
Last edited by nameta9 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Evolution and Purpose

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:59 am

On another forum, somebody said something that made me realize a big mistake people make when thinking and talking about evolution:

Flannel Jesus wrote:
prothero wrote:After mutations occur, natural selection as a process is anything but blind as it selects for those organisms most capable of survival and most likely to reproduce.
To the contrary, it's quite blind.

An example that comes to mind is baby turtles -- I've often seen videos of baby turtles being born on a beach, half of them being picked off by seagulls. Imagine that, in a given day of turtle-birthing, 50% of turtles are eaten before making it to sea. 1 of the millions of turtles being born that way has a genetic mutation that makes it have a stronger shell, let's say, than all it's peers. BUT STILL, as a baby, it has a 50% chance of being eaten, just like all it's siblings. It wouldn't be particularly strange, then, to see this turtle that would eventually have developed a slightly stronger shell just get eaten up within the first few minutes of life. The positive mutation would thus be quite swiftly eliminated. Yes, that's right, a positive mutation actually has a 50% chance of being eliminated in that population right off the bat. If that doesn't show you why it's blind...you're blind.

Natural selection is blind. If it wasn't blind, it wouldn't be rightly called 'natural'. That's the whole point of it being called 'natural' -- the word 'natural selection' means the selection happens blindly, without purpose, without goal. It happens naturally. If it was anything but blind, it wouldn't be natural.

I just realized this mistake that people seem to make quite frequently: they look at 'natural selection' as a separate thing from the ogranisms' likelihood of reproduction and survival. It's actually redundant to asy 'natural selection selects for organisms most capable of survival and most likely to reproduce' -- the fact that they're more likely to survive and reproduce alone is all you need. If you completely removed the term 'natural selection' from your lexicon and only referred to an organisms likelihood of survival and reproduction, the concept of evolution would remain identical. The term 'natural selection' confuses people -- they think that it's like a separate process that explains why the fittest survive. But you don't need to explain why the fittest survive -- the fact that the fittest tend to survive is implicit in the word 'fittest'. That's what fitness means. Natural Selection doesn't need to be a concept evoked to explain why those who are more likely to survive are more likely to survive, the fact that they're more likely to survive ALONE is what makes them more likely to survive.

So, focus on the word 'natural' in the term 'natural selection.' Focus on it really hard, for like 10 minutes. Focus on it until you realize exactly why it being 'natural' means it's blind.
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