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Fwd: Devolution

Begin forwarded message:

From: Robert L. Vaessen rvaessen mac com
Date: Sat Mar 30, 2002 09:31:10 AM US/Mountain
To: Patrick G Konshak martialscience juno com
Cc: nonexistentuser example org>, Robert Garrity rjagarrity mac com
Subject: Re: Devolution

Pat -

Devolution. I can't claim to be an expert on evolution. But I do believe in it. Are you seriously espousing a view of Devolution, or is this simply a thought provoking poke at Darwinism?

Sense we are talking about new ways of looking at things. Take a look at one of my idles. Maybe you seen someone else with this idle.

I'll bite, let's debate your 'idea' (An idle is the thing you adjust on your engine, or it's what you're doing when you're not doing anything else.) for a while.

Darwin believed that life started from a single cell and evolved into higher life forms. But the opposite is true. Live is devolving. Brontosaurs, Tyrannosaurs, Mammoths, Saber Tooth Taggers, etc. where not primit forms of modern animal but the top of the line species.

Not all Dinosaurs/Prehistoric animals were primitive forms of modern animals. Some of these species have gone extinct. Having no modern evolutionary ancestor. Some evolved into forms that exist today. Also, I don't believe that any animal is 'top of the line' based on it's historical context. In other words, animals that exist today (man included) are not superior just because they made it this far. Any animal will evolve in order to best take advantage of its current environment. As an animals environment changes it must adapt in order to survive. The Mastodon/Modern elephant example is an excellent illustration of this. During the Ice Age it was a good thing to have a very thick, heavy coat of fur. It acted as insulation against the environment. As the Ice Age began to thaw, the coat was no longer an advantage. It started to become a disadvantage. Higher body temperatures require more energy to sustain. With no benefit (prevention of frost bite/freezing) the coat began to thin. The two modern species of elephants are well adapted (evolved) to live in their environment. Note the extremely large ears of African elephants. The ears act as heat dissipators in the hot African climes where these animals live. The Indian/Asian elephant has much smaller ears because the temperatures in it's habitat do not require it to lower it's body temperature the way the African Elephants must.

So modern elephants aren't better than mastodon's. They have evolved. Evolution isn't an up, down, worse to better proposition. It's adaptation to one's environment. Mastodon's were well suited to their environment. Modern Elephants are well adapted to their current environment.

Fossils records don't show animal progressively evolving from one form to another.

On the contrary, I believe that there is ample evidence for evolution in the fossil record. However, you should also keep in mind that not all evolutionary changes are evident in fossilized remains. Evolutionary changes within the soft structures of any creature are unlikely to be evident in a fossil. Using the elephant example, we may not be able to see the differing ear sizes in these species if they were fossilized. Soft tissue doesn't survive fossilization very well. Most evolutionary changes are subtle, small changes of an animals body. Not radical changes of the skeletal structure.

They always show animals going extinct.

I don't think you'll stand very strongly on this point. This is a rather obtuse creationist claim. The logic used boils down to this: 'Obviously, if something is a fossil it's extinct.' O.k. we're not talking about individuals here, we're talking about entire species of a life form. If this statement were true, then many animals that are alive today (and present in the fossil record) would already be extinct. Not all prehistoric animals went extinct, some of them evolved into life forms present today, while others did die out. The act of extinction is in fact a traumatic and sensational event. That's why it gets more attention in study and publication. The ability of a crocodile to 'voluntarily' flex the muscles which control the nictitating membrane which protects his eye isn't very dramatic. Extinction of a species is easily and dramatically captured by the fossil record. One day the animal is there, the next thing you know they're all gone! Evolutionary changes are subtle and prolonged.

One illusion that animals are evolving is that brains get larger. Well larger brains don't necessary mean greater intelligence. The reason why brains get larger over time is that species use less percentage of their brain, so to make up for this nature increased it's size.  

I do not believe that larger brain equals more intelligence. I do not believe that a brain getting larger means that a species is using less percentage of the brain. I don't believe that nature would make something bigger because an animal is using less of something.

Size of brain is not something well suited to discussion of evolutionary trends. We don't know enough about how much brain equals how much intelligence in all the different species. For example, an evolutionary change that might occur to make something more intelligence could be a bio-chemical change in the brain. The creature affected by the evolutionary change is producing more of enzyme X than it's progenitor. Enzyme X stimulates the creation of more efficient synaptic nodes in the brain. The information in the brain is now cross indexed more readily. This change allows this new 'species' to adapt more quickly to changes in its environment. It looks exactly like it's progenitor, but the evolutionary change has made it more likely to survive the coming drought. Such an evolutionary change would not be evident in the fossil record. Size of brain does not equal intelligence. If it did Sperm Whales would be driving cars, and flying to the moon.

The size of a creatures brain is highly dependent. How intelligent does the species need to be in order to survive in it's environment? Size does not equal intelligence. Design and function are far more important.

The Genetic code for life is the reason for devolution. As time goes on the genetic code wares out This is why nature invented sex, so two creature of the same species can share each other code and fill in the missing Peaces (Sex is a devolution thing, not an evolutionary). But through the years not all the peaces are caught before they get loss. Once loss they can never be restored.

Genetic code for life is not the reason for evolution or devolution. It is simply the code that describes life. Changes in the environment are causes of evolution. Humans by the way, are less apt to change physically to adapt to their environment, because we have a highly evolved brain which permits us to cope with our environment in a more direct manner. Instantaneous adaptation through the use of artifice and tools, obviates the need to change physiologically.

It is true that the genetic materials in a cell can be damaged by certain events. But the code itself doesn't just 'wear out'. Think about it. Are you saying that the genetic code itself contains programming which causes it to slowly break down? I don't believe that any life form (species) has a built in self extinction code. Inadvertent damage to genetic code (On an individual level) is repaired through cellular replication.

I believe that sex, and the sharing of genetic code is something necessary to ensure evolution and thereby perpetuation of a species (It doesn't guarantee it, but it certainly helps). The sharing of genetic code through sex not only allows for repair of damaged genetic code, but also the sharing of better or improved genetic code. The species that has survived the drought, because it was smart enough to dig for water, will reproduce. Whereas the species that didn't have enzyme X enhanced neural synapses, will die out. It's genetic code will not be passed on.

Sex is definitely an evolutionary thing. It allows a species to share improved genetic code.

Genetic code contains more than one sequence for certain characteristics. There is a lot of genetic code that goes into bones and skin. Recent genetic changes (evolutionary changes to the code), to the code; such eye and skin color, have less genetic code associated with them.

Another illusion of evolution is technology. Humans are devolving. That is using less (percentage) of their brains and living shorter lifes.

Technology is not an illusion of evolution. It is a result of evolution. Humans evolved to the point where they were able to manipulate resources in their environment. The degree of manipulation became greater as the benefits were passed on through the generations. The greater the degree of technological manipulation, the greater the likelihood that successive generations would survive events such as floods, droughts, predators, etc. I don't know whether we're using less (as a percentage) of our brain now than we were before. I think it's more of a matter of using our brain more efficiently.

Please explain how we're living shorter lives now. Shorter compared to when? Where is there an accurate record? In what way can we verify that record?

Living longer doesn't mean better. If house flies lived to be 38 the entire planet might be covered in house flies. A species (typically) has a life span that allows it to reproduce, such that the population of the species exists within its environment in accordance with the available resources. Take a look at a species life span in conjunction with it's reproductive rate. If a creature lives too long, its offspring will overuse the available resources.

It might be true that humans used to live longer. That doesn't mean they were better than modern day humans. Longer life spans may have been necessary to offset the higher mortality rate. Shem may have had two hundred children, and have lived to be 380 years old, but 90 of his children died from diseases, 65 from floods, 25 we're killed in famines, 18 died in a fire, and only 2 of them lived to have children of their own. A longer life span doesn't make one species better than another. A species will adapt in order to survive the effects of it's environment.

Advancements in technology, medicine, and sanitation gives the appearance (illusion) of evolving to a more advance state. That is: If you took a modern baby and raised them in the environment man lived thousands of years ago (like the "Truman Show" ). They would not live as long as our ancestors.

If you took a modern baby and raised it in the environment that man lived in thousands of years ago, it might or might not live as long as our ancestors used to live. I don't know how long they lived. Depending on how many thousands of years you're talking about the genetic life span may have been different. On the other hand the brain structure might be different enough that the baby could make use of its heightened intelligence in order to offset environmental effects.

A silly story:

Future baby grows to be 14 years old. One day he is wandering through the local dry gulch in search of food, and thinks to himself... 'This looks like a stream bed. I wonder where all the water went? Maybe it'll come back some day.' As a result, future baby builds his home on top of the rocks away from the rest of the tribe. The leader of Past tribe says to Future baby. "You are stupid, you must live down on the ground with the rest of us, where it is safer, otherwise who will help you fight off the night beasts?" Future baby tries to explain to the tribe leader about flooding, based solely on the observations of the dry gulch. The leader of Past tribe doesn't understand, says that it is not a river, 'It is dry. Their is no water to be fearful of'. He labels Future baby stupid, and tells him to stay in his mud hut on the hill. "We will not help you when the night beasts come". Months pass, Future baby is not killed by the night beasts because he has built his hut on an extremely precipitous outcropping, eventually, the rainy season comes. It's an exceptionally rainy season this year, and Past tribe digs trenches to drain the water from their small settlement. One night a loud noise is heard. Betty, the girlfriend of Future boy runs from her fathers hut at the base of the cliffs, and climbs up to Future boys hut. Moments later a huge wall of water washes away Past tribes settlement. Everyone but Future boy and Betty are killed in the flood. The rains overflowed a nearby lake, spilled over a shallow embankment and rushed down the narrow canyon before leveling the small settlement. Future boy and Betty survive the flood and have children. The children are just a little bit smarter than the offspring Betty would have had if she had mated with someone from Past tribe.

Future boy dies at a normal age for someone from our time. But his children live on, and he outlived everyone else in Past tribe.

Or if you found a frozen person from thousands of years ago and clone them. They would uses more of their brain power and with modern technology (medicine) live to around 200 years or more.

I don't know whether they would use more of their brain power. I can't see what makes you think this. As for the life span thing. I've already addressed that. On the other hand, he might die within a week. The virus that causes pneumonia mutates (evolves) quite often. We've been reducing its impact on humanity through the use of medicine, but mankind has also developed some immunity through evolutionary means. Unfrozen caveman lawyer might catch such a bug and die a horrible death because he has no immunity whatsoever.

Another sign I'm right is mutations.  When mutations do occur, they are almost certain to be harmful or deadly to the organism. In other words, the vast majority of such mutations lead toward extinction instead of evolution; they make the organism worse instead of better.  

I'd say mutations are proof of evolution. I disagree that mutations are 'almost certain to be harmful or deadly to the organism'. Once again the you might think so based on reporting of deaths. However, if a mutation occurs that makes something stronger, or has no noticeable effect, there's no reason to say 'That was because of mutation!' I think that mutations work both ways. Mutation can occur through one of two ways. Radiological, or chemical changes (inadvertent) caused by the environment. Or genetic mutation brought on as a result of evolution. I'll talk about evolutionary induced mutation. In the Silly Story above, Betty and Future boys offspring will have a genetic code that is different than that of either parent. It will contain mutations (changes). The children may have inherited the genetic coding that made Future boy smarter than the other inhabitants of the Past tribe (Betty included). As a result the children will be more able to adapt to their environment, and more likely to pass those mutated genes on to another generation.

"Professor G. G. Simpson, one of the elite spokesmen for evolution, writes about multiple, simultaneous mutations and reports that the mathematical likelihood of getting good evolutionary results would occur only once in 274 billion years! And that would be assuming 100 million individuals reproducing a new generation every day! "

I'm not familiar with G. G. Simpson, but I'd question what a 'good' evolutionary result is. Obviously if we're talking about suddenly sprouting wings, the odds are rather slim. Good evolutionary changes aren't always huge events. Evolution occurs on the small scale, over extended periods of time (generational). It doesn't become noticeable as 'good' until much later. Once again his numbers will only reflect what he considers 'good'.

I believe in evolution, and it's effects. Luckily, there are lots of good books out there if you decide to read up on the subject. The only thing I'd caution against while reading any such books, are the use of terms like 'good', 'should' and 'obviously'. Also keep in mind that the extremes are more evident than subtle change.

- Robert

"This might be a unique signature block. It is possible that no one has
ever thought to write this in their signature block before I did."
(Robert Vaessen?) rvaessen myself com https://www.robsworld.org