Talk:Definition of evolution

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Highly informative expansion of my stub. Never know that about the "nothing makes sense" quote, which I gather gets taken out of context a lot.--Ed Poor 12:45, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

Some may say that we should settle on the correct definition, and stick with that. But I think that it is clear that several definitions are in common use. I would also like definitions that pro-evolution folks are happy with. RSchlafly 13:10, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

There is a lot of potential here. The lefty thing is a bit annoying, perhaps because it hit too close to home...that being said and disclosed, it is not actually a common scientific interpretation as stated. If you were to add a pure atheist view of evolution, you might say something like,

Evolution completely explains life on Earth, with no need for recourse to supernatural causes. Evolution is amoral."

PalMD 15:08, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

Yes, the last definition is really philosophy and not science. I would exclude it, except that it really comes into debates about evolution. I just added a couple of references that say that unplanned, unguided, and random are part of evolution. RSchlafly 15:18, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Thanks for adding the bit about unguided evolution. My attempts to wedge that into Wikipedia is what got JoshuaZ and company to have me put on probation. (Bitter, and proud!) --Ed Poor 15:38, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

Contents

that Earth is insignificant?

Materially insignificant, possibly - there are billions of other stars and planets. However you will find a wide range of opinion within the scientific community on the question of "life other places" or even "intelligent life other places". To this extent Earth is very significant, it is the only planet in the universe where life is known to exist. I don't think you will find anyone in the group of 'leftist-atheist' who will claim that in terms of life, the earth is insignificant. --Mtur 15:39, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

The most materialist of scientists would likely argue that while the Earth may or may not be unique, it is certainly significant, being the place where we evolved and live. See the "anthropic principle".PalMD 15:52, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

I am under the impression that it is primarily leftists and atheists who argue that life on Earth is insignificant because of life on other planets, billions of stars, Darwinian processes, etc. I don't have any references handy. I am throwing it out here for discussion. RSchlafly 17:13, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Alas, such nonsense. The page contains not-so-much a valid definition as a whining screed again evolution written by folks who know nothing of evolution. NousEpirrhytos 07:36, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

eh what?

A leftist-atheist philosophy. This says that man is no better than an animal; that Earth is insignificant; that progress does not exist; that the history of life is unguided, unplanned, and random;[3] and that materialist explanations have replaced all spiritual ones. Various other ideas may also be included, depending on the evolutionist.

eh? where did this get dragged up from? what's the connection between people on the left and being an atheist? I'm (british) right and an atheist. As for the rest of it, the mind bogggles! --Cgday 08:26, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Roger, that is a comment beneath you. It is insulting, uncited, and unChristian. As I said most scientists, and atheists, and leftists, consider the Earth pretty darn significant, as we live here. That does not change the cosmologic fact that we are one of billions of solar systems, so cosmologically not particularly significant. But, from a human perspective, Earth could hardly be more significant. --PalMDtalk 08:28, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

That bit about a leftist-atheist philosophy is out of place, I believe. It is how some people see evolution our place in the universe and how they see the lack of purpose in evolution, but it's not a definition of evolution per se. I think it likely belongs in the article (perhaps modified somewhat), but not as a definition. Philip J. Rayment 08:56, 8 April 2007 (EDT)


Let me clarify, as one of the scientists here, humans are animals, that is indisputable. Per those of us who are scientists, we are unique animals in many ways, and that is significant. Earth is significant for the above reasons. Science, however, does not comment on the moral significance of humans or Earth. That is religion's job.--PalMDtalk 10:15, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

It's not indisputable at all. Whether or not humans are animals really depends on the definitions of your classification system. Personally, I'd define plants as living things with a body, animals as living things with a body and mind, and humans as living things with a body, mind, and soul. Ergo, humans are not animals according to that classification system. Philip J. Rayment 10:40, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
They have sequenced human and chimp DNA and estimate that there is about a 2% difference between the two. If chimps are animals, then human DNA codes 98% animal. Teresita 10:43, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
That is only relevant if you are using that as part of your classification system. They've also found that humans have about 50% of their DNA in common with bananas, so does that make us 50% plants? Philip J. Rayment 11:28, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
No, but it indicates that humans and plants forked from each other a lot earlier than humans and chimps did. Teresita 11:48, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
Whether or not they forked at all is a separate issue. But if sharing 50% of our DNA does not make us 50% plants, why does sharing 98% of our DNA with animals (well, one type only) make us 98% animal? Philip J. Rayment 12:26, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
The same way sharing 99.9% of my DNA with Asians makes me 99.9% Asian which overrides the 99.3% of my DNA I share with Caucasians, which, in the absence of my predominantly Asian DNA, would make me Caucasian. Quod erat demonstrandum. Teresita 14:32, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
99.9%? Good try, but you would not normally be classified as "99.9% Asian", but simply "Asian", and this would have been the case well before DNA was heard of let alone measurable. Therefore, humans would not be described as "98% ape" or "98% animal", but (by that logic), simply "ape" (which of course they are not) or "animal" (which they usually are, but not for that reason). Philip J. Rayment 18:56, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
Phil, Personal remark removed I'm not sure where to start. The kingdoms of Animalia an Plantae branched off very far in the past, far enough that, while we share enough DNA to show that we both originated from common ancestors on Earth, evolution as separated us enough that we not only are separate species, but actually in separated kingdoms.PalMDtalk 12:05, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
You confuse disagreement for ignorance. You are not telling me something that I've never heard, but something that I disagree with; I don't agree that we split at all (i.e. I reject evolution). However, that is not the point. I was not talking about where we came from, but how we are classified, and pointing out that there can be more than way to classify things. Do we classify according to percentage similarities of DNA, according to the existence or otherwise of a soul, or according to any number of other possible ways of classifying? And even that question is a bit pointless because you are not limited to classifying things according to only one classification system. That is, you could classify according to similarity of DNA 'and according to the existence of a soul. So you could then say that we are animals according to classification system A but not according to classification system B. It's a bit like the question of whether or not Pluto is a planet. Whether or not it's a planet depends on which classification system you are using, and astronomers recently decided to change which classification system they used. Philip J. Rayment 12:26, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

That particular definition

As per grand consensus on this discussion page and the discussion page of Theory of Evolution, I am removing the fourth definition. GofG ||| Talk 09:51, 8 April 2007 (EDT)


Since the soul is immaterial, it is not a part of a scientific classification system. You cant measure it, you can perhaps say humans have one, but then what? Measure a chimps soul?PalMDtalk 12:35, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Do all possible classification systems have to be scientific ones? Philip J. Rayment 12:39, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Consider that classification systems rely on logic to be affective, so the answer is yes all classification systems have to be scientific.--TimS 12:59, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Before I make my following remarks, I want to make absolutely clear that as a Christian, I reject astrology.
I would think that a better word than "effective" would be "useful". Classifications need to be useful. But that depends on what they are used for, and they can have different uses.
An astrologer might decide to classify stars according to their (purported) effect on people's destinies. That sort of classification system would not be useful to an astronomer, but it would be useful to the astrologer. But it would not be "scientific".
An alternative examples is railway gauges. Gauges are classified into narrow, standard, and broad. I would not consider these to be scientific classifications (they are somewhat arbitrary), but it is a useful classification system nevertheless.
So I reject that all classification systems have to be scientific.
Philip J. Rayment 19:04, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Where is the "grand consensus" that one of the definitions of evolution does not include a leftist-atheist philosophy? The term "evolution" is not just used for strictly scientific concepts. Debates over evolution frequently discuss philosophical issues. That is true on both sides of the debate. Why is that? It is because people commonly use the term "evolution" to include philosophical beliefs. Maybe it would be better if everyone stuck to science, but that's just not the way it is. RSchlafly 13:48, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Actually, Roger, unless you decide to go off topic, that is the way it is. We are speaking of the scientific theory of evolution, not some vague 3rd dictionary meaning. Personal remark removedPalMDtalk 19:44, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

When I get the chance, I'd like to do a bit of a cleanup on this article myself (if others don't beat me to it). I'd probably reinstate the deleted bit, but not as a definition, because I don't believe that it is. Philip J. Rayment 19:04, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
The article does not say that it is just about scientific aspects of evolution. People often discuss nonscientific aspects, and it is misleading to avoid them. The deleted text should go back in. RSchlafly 19:21, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
RSchlafly is not off-topic at all. There is considerable debate over whether "science" is allowed to tread into the areas of philosophy, metaphysics or religion. And methodologicial naturalism makes a statement about the scope of science, i.e., whether it can cope with the supernatural - this leads to the recent unpleasantness about Intelligent Design. (We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!) --Ed Poor 10:25, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Gradual appearance of new forms of life

the gradual appearance of new forms of life. I think not, gradual changes to existing species, so that, for example when populations groups become isolated from each other, after a very, very, very long time the accumulation of gradual changes will be such that the resulting population groups can be considered separate species. Well something like that. This article seems to be written by people who don't really grasp what they are writing about.

WhatIsG0ing0n 11:57, 8 April 2007 (EDT)

Thanks Sid 3050 for moving that here. It wasn't my intention to place under the article. An oversight on my part.
WhatIsG0ing0n 12:19, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
The phrase you object to is in quotes as though it was the question asked in a survey. If so, it should stand, but admittedly there is no reference supporting it. Philip J. Rayment 12:29, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
Flawed questions in surveys and flawed sources lead to bad articles. How about getting a scientist who specializes in evolution to write a definition?
WhatIsG0ing0n 12:37, 8 April 2007 (EDT)
It will immediately be reverted for having a liberal bias. Teresita 09:33, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Personal remark removed I won't let anyone revert an article on a false basis. Anyway, this article is specifically about the different definitions.

Please add the Liberal definition. And add the Scientific definition, Conservative definition, Old Earth, Young Earth, Intelligent Design, Roman Catholic and any other definition you can find. --Ed Poor 10:21, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Conservapedia:Avoid personal remarks

I blotted out a few remarks which seemed to be more about personalities than about the topic at hand. I hope no one minds. :-) --Ed Poor 10:32, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

I reverted mine, because it was not insulting and it was appropriate. If you want to spend time doing this, Ed, I could point you to plenty of others, such as on the Conservapedia talk:Is the Bible Inerrant? page. Philip J. Rayment 11:16, 9 April 2007 (EDT)
I didn't regard your remark as insulting, and I made it as easy as possible to unhide it. That's why I used a template: so it shows up when you are in edit mode. (Actually, your remark was the mildest of them all - as well as being entirely on point. I guess I just wanted to try out my new template. :-) --Ed Poor 10:45, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

My cleanup is finished

I've extensively rewritten much of the article, and that's about all I can do for now. The Use of different definitions section could still do with a cleanup, and some other parts could do with more in them. Two specific suggestions are:

  • The Development of life section could mention that this is the popular view, and supporting citations might be polls where the questions about evolution were consistent with this definition.
  • The Scientific theory, philosophy, or religion section could do with some more work. I've reincorporated most of the section that RSchlafly wanted back in, but not quite all of it. Perhaps some quotes from evolutionists on what evolution means to them could go in here, along with some references claiming that evolution is nothing more than a dispassionate scientific theory.

Philip J. Rayment 11:16, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Increasing genetic information

Isn't that the creationist definition of macroevolution? Tsumetai 07:29, 15 April 2007 (EDT)

See the second-last dot-point on this page, although read the start of the page to put it in context. Philip J. Rayment 08:42, 15 April 2007 (EDT)

Hominids vs apes

My recent edit, a single word change, was reverted, and I'm not clear as to why. The article currently reads that humans evolved from ancient apes. This is a misleading statement. My phrasing was that humans evolved from ancient hominids. Of course, humans, hominids, as well as gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans are all "apes", but no biologist suggests that modern humans evolved directly from other extant groups of apes, but that we descend from the now extinct hominid branch. RSchlafly, can you give a compelling reason why the edit was reverted? JohnSmith 14:19, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

Yes, I reverted simply because because the reference was to a CNN article that used the term "ancient apes", not hominids. I realize that some people say that it is confusing to say that humans evolved from apes, because someone might interpret that as modern apes. But the article says "ancient apes", so I don't think that there is any confusion.
Meanwhile, the term hominid is confusing, and I started a page to define. Perhaps you could help there, as it currently says that the dictionary definition is incorrect. RSchlafly 14:38, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
If that were the intent of the quote, then I would agree with you, but the part that mentions "ancient apes" is from the writer of the article, not the person who says "we have fossil evidence for evolution, it's a fact." Yet, the article says that the former is presented in context of the latter, which isn't the case. It's not necessary to quote the writer of the article here because it's not a first-person piece of evidence, and moreover the writer is using the term incorrectly. Also, I'm wondering why we have this reference at all, since it's referring the the 1999 Kansas school board removing evolution from the standards. Since 1999 that policy has been reversed, and a new controversial policy was put in place and reversed. The reference is basically defunct from the question of current events, and if you want to lend some scientific credibility to the article, then a journal paper or textbook would be far more appropriate. I'm removing the quotation marks and changing ape back to hominid since it is the correct term. JohnSmith 16:01, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
You took a statement that is correct, clear, unambiguous, and grounded in a neutral source, and replaced it with one that is inaccurate and confusing. Creationists deny that humans descended from ancient apes, but not that they descended from ancient hominids. The ancient apes belonged to a different species from modern humans; the same is not necessarily true about hominids. It appears that you subscribe to the idea that the word hominid is just another word for an ape, but if that is true, then why make the change? RSchlafly 17:21, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Of course creationists deny we descend from ancient hominids. "Lucy is a chimp" and "Neanderthal is just a regular human with rickets" have been creationist canards for quite a while. Creationists believe that humanity was created in its present form, and did not evolve from a predecessor species. Ancient hominids are not the same species as modern humans. Naturally, ape and hominid don't mean the same thing. Hominids are a subset of apes. But the point is that no biologist believes that we evolved from Gorillas, Chimpanzees, or Orangutans, but from other hominids (Australopithencines, etc).JohnSmith 18:26, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Show me where any creationist has denied that humans descended from ancient hominids. RSchlafly 19:03, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

I'm siding with RSchlafly on this one, although I'm not 100% happy with that section of the article even without JohnSmith's changes. But to answer a number of points that were raised:

  • I agree that the wording "ancient apes" could be misleading, but I also take RSchlafly's point that it does say "ancient apes", which should be enough qualification. Incidentally, I've heard it said that although evolutionists believe that both humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor, that hypothetical ancestor, if found, would probably be described as an ape anyway!
  • Saying that the quote from the teacher is in the context of the other statement by the author of the article may be true, but is a bit of a stretch, so perhaps is not safe to go with.
  • I don't see the problem with referring to the 1999 Kansas issue. It is simply using that as evidence of how the term "evolution" is used.
  • RSchlafly is essentially correct about creationists accepting that humans "descended" from hominids. I say "essentially" because it's unclear exactly what that word means. The definitions that I've found refer to it being humans and their immediate human-like ancestors. This would tend to suggest that it excludes anything that creationists would consider to be other than human, but on the other hand, evolutionists might lump into this category things that creationists would not consider human. In summary, I think that the word is simply too ambiguous to safely use in this context, so should be avoided.
  • It should also be noted that (a) creationists accept that speciation occurs (so JohnSmith's edits were misleading at best, and wrong at worst), and (b) "species" is a man-made definition which is actually based on interfertility, which is generally impossible to define for fossils anyway, so claims of different "species" of fossil humans is somewhat problematic.

Philip J. Rayment 11:09, 13 May 2007 (EDT)

Micro and macroevolution

The sources I gave should make clear that AiG sees the distinction between macro and micro evolution. Does anyone not think that they are the leading proponents of creationism? SkipJohnson 11:23, 29 August 2007 (EDT)

After I changed the phrase "important to anti-evolutionists" to read "important to some anti-evolutionists" with the edit comment "Leading creationists don't worry about this distinction", SkipJohnson changed it to "important to many anti-evolutionists", with the edit comment, "AiG finds very important. AiG has the leading creationists."
I reverted SkipJohnson's edit. He was inaccurate in the following ways:
  • First, although not all that relevant, it is not correct to say that "AiG has the leading creationists". Most of the leading creationists are not employed by AiG, but by ICR, CMI, or other (sometimes secular) organisations. AiG does employ a few, and a number of the leading creationists do speak and/or write for AiG, but even so they have no exclusivity to "leading creationists".
  • Second, the first reference (an article by DeWitt) does refer to macroevolution, but doesn't make a big deal about the distinction.
  • Third, and most importantly, the second reference was to a book by Jonathan Sarfati and Michael Matthews. Jonathan Sarfati works for CMI, not AiG. But more to the point, they say in that book, "The main scientific objection to the GTE is not that changes occur through time, and neither is it about the size of the change [i.e. it's not about micro- versus macro-] (so I would discourage use of the terms micro- and macro-evolution..." (emphases and square parenthesis added). Also, the article "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use" elaborates on this point [1]. In other words, his own source refutes him.
Philip J. Rayment 11:41, 29 August 2007 (EDT)
You're right. SkipJohnson 11:43, 29 August 2007 (EDT)
Great! I wish everyone was as easy to convince! Philip J. Rayment 11:46, 29 August 2007 (EDT)
Philip, I noticed your comment regarding your doubt about the information I introduced into the article - just wanted to respond. Microevolution is defined as evolution at a level that is below the species - it does not involve speciation, but shifts in allelic frequencies due to the environment, mutation, or some other event. I have the utmost confidence in this. I'll provide a reference at my earliest convenience as I am about to leave for work. Cheers. Wisdom89 09:45, 28 November 2007 (EST)
What I'm questioning is not whether microevolution is ever defined as evolution below the species level, but whether everybody agrees on that definition. I've been under the impression that many people simply define it rather vaguely as a "small" change as distinct from a "big" change. Also, has anybody actually defined microevolution as being equivalent to a change in gene frequency, or are they simply similar concepts. If what you are saying is correct, it therefore seems that "evolution", often now defined as a change in gene frequency, is therefore defined as microevolution, which means that macroevolution is not evolution! Philip J. Rayment 20:44, 28 November 2007 (EST)

Source please

‘’About 45% of Americans are Young Earth Creationists.’’

Does anyone have the relevant source for this statistic? It sounds about right, but with an important statistic like this it’s important to be able to trace it back and see where the number is coming from, as well as how the poll was conducted. Feebasfactor 07:48, 29 November 2007 (EST)

This is just my humble guess, but I'd say the statistic is wildly overestimated. I could be wrong though. I haven't found any neutral source to verify this. Wisdom89 22:35, 29 November 2007 (EST)
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