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Canadians divided over creation and evolution


jdobbin

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Natural selection is the best explanation that we have for the evolution of species, absolutely. It's not the only explanation for evolution though and that's why I say it's arguable. For instance, plants and animals can evolve through domestication..

Domestication is really just natural selection. You might argue that it's not natural selection because humans have decided which traits are most desirable, rather than survival/reproduction ratios... but I think that's a pretty artificial distinction. Cows, cats, and dogs have found themselves in an environment where their odds of passing on their genes to a new generation depend on being cuter or growing more meat than their peers, rather than on their ability to survive and procreate.

I recently read something about "self-domestication". When humans began developing permanent settlements, these places became great sources of food as well as safety from predators, and some animals (cats and dogs...) adopted an unaggressive posture in regard to humans in order to obtain access to the food and safety provided by human settlements. It became a successful symbiotic relationship, and obviously an unaggressive temperment was a key trait that was vital for animals that wanted to adopt this strategy. Unaggressive animals had access to a rich supply of food, plus safety from larger predators. Aggressive animals, of course, got killed or driven out. Unaggressive tendancies became a survival trait, whereas in the wild they probably weren't. Domestic dogs and cats are incredibly successful species in terms of doing what organisms do to continue to exist.

-k

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Sure, we're part of nature, so domestication could be "natural" selection if you look at it that way. If we vanished off the earth tomorrow though, it wouldn't take very long for the things we domesticated to revert back to nature. You could then make the argument that they would just be adapting to their environment vis-a-vis our absence.

There is however a distinct difference between natural selection and domestication. Domesticated crops and animals cannot exist without our interference. The earliest example is probably of grains. Domesticated grain cannot survive without being cultivated by people, while wild grains have more brittle outer shells that more easily shatter and drop their seeds.

Anyway, without getting too far down the rabbit hole, the only point I'm making is that there is also artificial selection. It's not that artificial selection debunks natural selection, but it's another theory that goes with natural selection. My point was simply that evolution is a theory, like heliocenrism or gravity. It's proven. Natural selection still has gaps, but it's the best explanation there is for the origin of species.

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There are species of plants that are dependent on certain insects for pollination and would fail without those insects, too. Those insects are part of the environment that the plants are adapted to. We're also part of the environment, and if we vanished the environment would change and many species would have to adapt to the change or die. The distinction you're trying to make between natural and artificial selection seems completely arbitrary to me.

Natural selection isn't a theory, it's an observable process. It's an unavoidable consequence of the rules of heredity and the laws of probability. To try and make more of it than that is to attach meaning to it that isn't part of it's definition. Questions about gaps in the fossil record or about the origin of the species aren't actually questions about natural selection.

-k

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The distinction you're trying to make between natural and artificial selection seems completely arbitrary to me.

-k

Well, you'll have to take it up with Chuck. He was the one that argued there is natural and artificial selection. Just to be clear, the only difference is that artificial selection exists by intelligent design and I don't mean by God. Otherwise, the process is the same as natural selection. Edited by cybercoma
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It's really just a matter of semantics. You can choose to define evolution guided by humans as driven by artificial selection. And that's fine if you make that definition and everyone in the conversation understands. I do believe that is the generally accepted terminology.

But, absent that definition, kimmy's argument is also fully valid, in that the species in question are evolving to best survive given the selective factors affecting them. That selective factor is interaction with humans, just as selective factors can be interaction with other species, such as insects, predators, symbiotic species, etc.

Anyway, evolution and natural selection are both observed facts with mountains of evidence supporting them. But you are right, evolution driven by other means, such as artificial selection by another intelligent species, is certainly possible.

If your contention is that it is within the realm of possibility that human evolution was at some point intervened with by another intelligent species, such as an alien civilization, then I agree, that cannot be absolutely ruled out. In fact, the probability of that is certainly much greater, in my opinion, then of the existence of a god.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of the powers ascribed to gods in various human religious works can all be duplicated through the use of technology. A sufficiently advanced alien civilization could certainly appear as gods to humanity today, and certainly to primitive humans, if they chose to do so. In fact, a human with some modern technological gadgets could easily convince a primitive civilization of his/her godhood.

Edited by Bonam
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The thing is that the entire species doesn't evolve according to the specified factors of intelligent human intervention. Selective breeding is the example. You create something different by artifically selecting what will be created. They're not adapting or evolving to the natural conditions of humanity's existence. British bulldogs, for example, cannot exist on their own. It's difficult, impossible in some cases, for them to breed naturally and breeders actually need the pups delivered by c-section as the mothers cannot birth them naturally. Without selective breeding, the traits that make British bulldogs what they are would not be possible. For that matter, almost every domesticated dog breed would not exist. Within 10-12 generations, the majority of dog breeds we see today would be wiped out if we stopped breeding them. They're not adapting to conditions, we're selectively choosing what traits will continue.

The point, however, is that things evolve. Most Creationists readily accept the notion of selective breeding for crops and pets. It's the exact same mechanism at work in nature though. Instead of humanity using its intelligence to modify life by selecting particular traits, an animal evolves when particular traits are better suited to its environment. I guess what I'm having a hard time explaining clearly is that there seems to be a cognitive dissonance with Creationists who on one hand accept artificial selection, but deny evolution and natural selection. Artificial selection proves evolution and the theory of natural selection is a pretty tight one given that evidence. It stands to reason that species will evolve in response to their environment, just as they evolve when human-beings consciously selects traits between generations when breeding plants and animals.

Edited by cybercoma
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I didn't see all the stuff you added about aliens. That wasn't really my point. I'm just saying that the exact process of natural selection is still being discovered and figured out. Scientists are finding that there's strange methods some animals use to pass on their genes, although they're less suitable to the environment than others. Meanwhile those more suitable species seem to be dying off. I guess it depends on how you define suitability. I'll see if I can find the article that I'm thinking about. At the end of the day, evolution is a known fact, but the process of natural selection is still being worked out and scientists are finding new and perplexingly contradictory information in some circumstances, as far as I remember.

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