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Re: CHAT: Survival of the fittest (was: Religion etc.)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Friday, May 12, 2000, 15:05
bjm10@CORNELL.EDU wrote:
> > On Fri, 5 May 2000, John Cowan wrote: > > > mechanism of evolution. Its implication is that organisms evolve toward better > > engineering design (balancing the constraints of the environment, available > > The implication is demonstrably false, given that it implicitly denies > observable stochastic effects.
No, it denies that they are the primary mechanism of change.
> Likewise, even using the word "better" is > teleological, therefore incompatible with modern biology.
The term "engineering" is of course metaphorical. I was attempting to indicate what sort of "design" I was talking about.
> Finally, > organisms CANNOT evolve. SPECIES evolve.
I should have said "groups of organisms".
> What CAN happen is that species can amass traits that produce greater net > reproductive efficiency FOR A LOCAL CONDITION. This complex of traits is > never "better" in any unqualified sense and is only a purely local > compromise, not merely "constrained" by local conditions but DEFINED thereby.
This is correct as far as it goes, but is not Darwinism. Darwinism claims that those traits represent, IN HINDSIGHT, suitable engineering solutions to the problems of the environment. -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)