Survival of the Survivingest, or Test Your Knowledge of Evolutionary Theory!

You believe in evolution, no? Yes? Right?

Right, of course you do. You’re an educated individual…

So, have you read Charles Darwin? It’s not so hard to do. You can read his work – all of it – for free, online, at various websites, if you have a computer (which evolved from the abacus, of course).

So, have you read Darwin? Maybe not? Probably not. But who needs to? Evolution is true. That’s apparent. Things change. Animals change over time. Legs become fins, fingers become wing struts, scales become feathers. And vice-versa. It’s just so. We come from things that we used to be. We used to be other things. Things change! And life is connected.

Right?

Sure, why not. Life is connected, certainly – to life, to itself. And it comes from… itself. It evolves from itself into…itself. Just differently. How simple! How self-evident.

But, what is the theory of Evolution?

Well, what about it? It’s self-explanatory. It’s not a theory, it’s a fact. And you do know it, even if you think you don’t. Venture a guess?

Survival of…

Yes! That’s it. “Survival of the Fittest.”

That is the theory of evolution, in abbreviated form. But really, that wasn’t Charles Darwin’s phrase. That came from a man named Herbert Spencer, who wrote those words a bit in advance of good Charles. Mr. Spencer was talking about the survival of human beings, struggling against poverty in the dog eat dog world. (Dogs eat dogs, don’t they?) And the fit survive. Those other folks don’t. That’s how it goes. Keeping up with the Joneses sure is getting old, but that’s how it goes, said dear Herbert.

Mr. Darwin, Charlie, himself had called his theory one defined by “natural selection.” Mr. Spencer put his spin on Charlie’s work, and Charlie accepted. A few printings of the book later, and even Charlie called his theory “survival of the fittest.”

So, now you know. That is the theory of evolution. Survival of the fittest. That’s how all life came into being.

The fit survived. And those that survived were fit! How nicely it fits together! To be fit is to survive, to survive is to be…well…it sort of does become a bit of a slightly wanky idea, when you say it out loud like that. But there’s more to it.

It’s not that the “fit” survive, it’s that the fit survive long enough to make more babies. Therefore, those who are fit enough to have babies…that is, the babies are the ones who “survive.” Or, I mean, the line, the line of descent survives. Because mom and dad were fit! See?

And that’s how life emerged from nothingness on a barren volcanic earth! Mom and dad were…fit. Fit! Fit!! Fitness!!

What about before mom and dad, you ask? Oh, you. You are troublesome…

Well, that’s easy. Very simple, in fact. So simple it’s painful that I have to tell you. It’s like this:

There were a number of processes in which materials were organized… by natural forces…into other materials…which…eventually…

Look. Life came about, and it’s not really worth fighting about the fact of it. Life exists! That’s clear. Self-evident! So, why are we fighting?

The important thing to remember is that after that self-organization of material into greater and greater complexity, reproduction began by which organisms learned to split and duplicate themselves, probably as survival strategies, and then over time, the fittest survived!

And that’s how it all came about.

How wonderful! How grand!! Remarkable!But how in the world,” you ask, wide-eyed, “did Mr. Charles Darwin discover this grand theory!?

Ah, what a story! It goes like this:

Charlie was reading a book by a man named Thomas Malthus Poor Tom was an unhappy and dour fellow, worried to death over the breeding, the non-stop humping, the rapacious screwing and baby-making of people. Of poor people. Of mostly the poor people. All over the world. Very very worried.

Thomas felt sure that people made more babies than they could support, more than they could feed, clothe or care for. He was certain that the poor (and also the Africans and Natives everywhere, the non-Christians that is), would over-breed. And as a result, the human species would be so starved for the limited resources of the field and granary that great famine and flood and horror would come and perish untold numbers of us. Of ‘them,’ of course, as well – them being the poor. But of ‘us’ too, those impacted by the irresponsible screwing of the irresponsible poor.

He wrote a tremendous book about it. You can read that for free, too. Clickity click.

So, it was Thomas who Charles was reading, when he arrived at his radical and revolutionary idea. “If it’s true for people, is it not also true for animals?” asked Charles. That is, if there is a natural struggle for survival among humans, can we not also assume that there is an identical struggle in – and between – all of God’s creatures (or, well, whoever’s creatures they are. That remained to be seen).

In this struggle, considered Charles, a few lucky ones would rise to the top. But not “lucky,” no, not lucky… but “chosen.” But not “chosen,” not by God, but by Nature. Nature would do the choosing. And it wouldn’t be “luck,” and it wouldn’t be “choosing.” It would be…

Oh, what would cause the goodness of Nature to choose – or select? That’s it, “select!” What would cause Nature…or “nature,” (small “n,” not a supernatural force, but a ‘natural force,’ governed by ‘natural laws’); What would cause nature to ‘select’ one animal over another of its kind for survival in this endless struggle against overbreeding and hunger?

Why, an individual would have to be better….

“Adapted!” Better “adapted” than any other. It would have to be different!

Wait!!! No, it couldn’t be different. Not really different. It was born, it came from its mother, it looks like its mother, and father of course. Father too…It must be the same. But also different. Slightly, every so slightly different. Different enough!

Different enough to be ‘selected’ by ‘nature’ to survive!

Just different enough. Just barely enough. It would have to be slow, very slow, very very very slow, and unintentional change. Absolutely unintentional. Without purpose or intention. No purpose. No direction. No will. No ‘choosing.” No intelligent operator in the spirit of the thing. No! Just the struggle and an accident. Just an accidental change. And nature likes it – on occasion! On occasion, of course! Sometimes! Sometimes, from time to time, for no “reason,” nature likes…selects…the little being with that slight accident more than those without it.

But…what kind of change? Who knows. Who can say? Perhaps it’s a bird. Perhaps it’s a finch. Perhaps the beak of a finch is 1/16th of a millimeter longer than the beaks of its brothers and sisters.

Why? Why would it be longer? It almost indicates…creativity. Desire. Will….Being….

No! No, no. That is crazy talk. It changes because…because “things change!” It’s a natural law! No will. No purpose. Just…things change! Law. Nature!

Resolved! And so, over another 100 years, that bird’s progeny accidentally have ever-so-slightly larger and larger beaks. Within a few thousand years, you might have a bird with a very large beak, indeed!

Fortunately there has been a lot of time. Billions of years, for all of these intention-less accidents to pile up. And so, as a direct and unimpeachable result, unimaginable complexity has been arrived at, by accident, and without intention, feedback, or will. No desire exists but that which drives us, we machine bodies for our accidentally-mutating genes, to replicate them.

Oh, right. That’s the new wrinkle – the Neo-Darwinians. They added a great deal to the discussion, by letting humanity know that it was the Genome, the Great and Holy Genome that was the selected, by nature, which chooses and chooses and chooses. But accidentally, of course, and without intention, direction or purpose.

So, now that you know a little more about the official theory of evolution – accidental change over time resulting in endless variety and complexity – you may now return to your meaningless, arbitrary, spiritless, empty, hollow, shallow, trite, wafer-thin life. Science has told you it is so, and so it is. Who are you to argue?

. . . . . .

Liam

6 Comments

  1. Is that what I said, Tom? What’s belief got to do with it, anyway. I thought it was science we were talking about. Not philosophy or religion…

    I am not a young-earth creationist, if that’s what you mean, or a Christian (I have my own blended spiritual/philosophical instincts). But I don’t hold against anyone their criticisms of the current field of inquiry called ‘evolutionary theory,’ because the theory isn’t much of a theory at all: “Things changed! That’s evolution!”

    The details come in spurts, and are retracted and re-asserted. Mechanics are slowly worked out, but mostly projected from existing biological structures – infered, and often implied, really, to exist where they ‘must’ exist – because life exists.

    It seems that, in the standard literature, from Darwin to Wilson to Carroll, the ‘proof’ of their endless theory, most circular, is that life exists! Therefore evolution (our brand) is TRUE!

    But what of cause? Prime movers? Motivation? The creative spark? They kill it, or rationalize it into some middle-man.

    Read the literature and you’ll be struggling to keep up with verb tenses – between active and passive form, ‘evolution’ and ‘selection’ are always ‘having been done’ by… by whatever form is being discussed at the moment!

    “Butterflies evolved their wing patterns by turning off and on toolkit genes…Arthropods differentiated their segments into wings and legs, lungs and rudders. Gills became wings by flipping switches.”

    They did? It was a conscious act?

    When they write, speak or act, all – and I mean all, even the good ones – all reductionist evolutionists sound exactly and precisely like either Deists, Vitalists, or most often, Lamarckists. They can’t help but to describe what they witness, or what makes sense in their minds:

    That life is an active, vital process, infused with a creative, dominant, seeing/knowing/feeling/sensing/touching/shaping – in other words – reciprocal transcendent energy, force or spirit, that shapes and reshapes in pathways that can be, to some degree, elucidated and measured.

    But they’re so hung up on never allowing anything beyond the pullies and levers and switches into the discussion, that they dance around like crazy crazy crazy people trying to have it both ways.

    Genes activate, forces select, segments duplicate and differentiate into a myriad of forms – and it’s all supposed to be blind, thoughtless, meaningless, accidental, without purpose or any sense of conscious direction.

    These ideas are at odds with reality.

    “Science” can not and should not endeavor to speak for cause – only mechanics. And it should not confuse or confound the two.

    The greatest sin being committed by lab scientists today is that of fundamentalist atheism – a reductionist/mechanistic view of the universe, inherited from the time of Isaac Newton, and that same rebellion against a Medieval Church. This remains the underpinning of today’s science; the assertion that nothing but what can be doled out in analogies to 17th Century machines is what we’re living with – and it is absurd, and obscene.

    There are better directions to go, better research to be seen. I enjoy this groups work, among others:

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/index.php

    Do a search there for ‘evolution’ in topics.

    Hope that answers your question…but I’ll be writing about it regularly, if you care to stay tuned.

  2. It’s a fundamental flaw in modern science. Scientists discount what they know or feel they know and focus solely on mechanics. The pulleys and levers. They don’t like to include anything they can’t see or measure with their tools, yet they do. We now have all sorts of “invisible” phenomenon in most modern theories. Invisible black holes that do “everything”. Super strings, membranes, dark matter, dark energy. Scientists have now, finally, reached a point where all their theories involve invisible forces, but they can’t quite put their fingers on what those forces are, so they try, within the confines of their own, self-reinforced limitations, to explain it all in some mechanical way. Never spiritual. Never explained by anything outside of “the norm”. A norm they created.

    For years, to be a scientists was basically to cast off spirituality. You could say religion, since most people over the last several thousand years all had some kind of religious belief, and 95% of all people on Earth are supposed to believe in some form of higher power. But it is really just our collective agreement that there is stuff out there we don’t fully grasp, can’t see, can’t touch, yet know exists. This is why many people who say they don’t believe in God, do say they believe in something… they just aren’t quite sure how to define it without….looking strange. But scientists have taken things to the extreme. They have decided, collectively, to cast out all things spiritual and only work with what they can measure and see. And they have finally run out of measurable and see’able stuff. Now they have formed theories based on…. what? Invisible stuff? But not invisible. No, no. Just too complicated to explain, so we get the “THEORY”. We think it is this way. Or maybe that way. But it has to be mechanical. It has to be atoms and sub-particles, molecules and stuff, or else what? What if it isn’t? How do you calculate choice? How do you calculate intent? We know so little about our own brains, because so much there doesn’t apparently boil down to simple electrochemical processes. We don’t explain it, because science can’t explain it. What is the will?

    Getting back to Darwin, Liam somewhat referenced the Primordial Soup, this collection of basic elements that somehow adapted and survived in ancient times to bring about life as we know it. So how did cells suddenly learn how to divide and procreate without brains? Seems like a conspiracy, them all banding together to create us. I personally don’t understand why scientists don’t latch on to the Creationists, and the Young Earth version of things. It makes more sense from a science stand point to discount billions of years of evolutionary forces we can’t fully explain and simply say some Super Being created us all just a few thousand years ago. Putting all sorts of fossil remains around for us to wonder about and keep us guessing. It certainly ties up loose ends nicely… well, not nicely, but it sure provides a quick answer you can point out. To say, we now know!

    So how did those cells divide? They seem too small to have brains, too small to even pack in much DNA. And where the hell did DNA come from? DNA and Genes seem awfully smart for such itty bitty things. But they can’t be smart, can they? They can’t possess intelligence can they? And how did they come by energy? Did energy willfully inhabit them, to give them the power to do stuff? Most life is electochemical, so how did these things come to co-exist, the electo and the chemical? Did they agree to work with each other to create us somewhere down the line?

    Big Bang, universe forms, spreads out, sometime later on a little world, somewhere in all the gazillions of rocks floating around, near one source of nuclear power, comes a collection of chemicals, and apparently electricity of some kind, and boom, life! Is this the story? Seems to be missing a few chapters.

    So was it all a mistake? Or was it intentional? Did the universe conspire to create life here? And by the way, nowhere else? What was with all that other stuff out there in the universe? Why did all of that need to exist just so one rock could get a life? Or get a life by chance, by accident, by mistake? I can see why so many people believe in God, it sure tidies up the loose ends to say some being, who popped Himself or Herself or Itself in to existence, found it all to be boring, created us and all the other stuff to have more fun. And I can see why people think He loves us! Without us, what else would He have going? But here’s what I don’t get… He threw down all those fossil remains and bones and other stuff just to mess with us, make us wonder, so we’d all eventually come to realize He was really cool and with some grand plan and worship Him, yet… if we already worshiped Him, what was the point? If He wants us to worship Him, why not just come out, throw off the invisibility cloak and reveal Himself? Not in some mystical way, but Boom! Here I am!???

    Yeah, the story is definitely missing some chapters.

  3. Liam-I hope that you don’t ruffle too many feathers of the devout Darwinists. I was just, for some reason, thinking about Darwin today. I’d read a book by Jeremy Rifkin a number of years ago, called “Algeny”. He’d discussed how, other than Malthus and the other Brit neo-cons of their day, Darwin got his ideas from observing horse breeders. We must remember that “good breeding” was a particular Brit obsession. So, when he went off on his journeys he had these pre-conceived notions-one being that nature operated like British horse breeders, selecting the best of the breed, you could say. But, then, we must remember that his grandfather, Erasmus, was a believer in evolution, so that maybe belief in evolution was encoded in the Darwin family genes. Then there was his cousin, Galton, who came up with eugenics, which later got a bad rap after the Third Reich started to eliminate “useless breeders.” Mein Kampf is filled with Darwinian catchphrases. Lest we forget, it was around ninety-eighty, when Thatcher and Reagan were installed in power that “The Selfish Gene”, by Dawkins became a bestseller. Not just a best seller, but required reading in many universities. Now, the idea, or “meme” was implanted in people’s brain that our DNA, a rather microscopic collection of amino acids, were possibly reading Ayn Rand on the side.

    But, then again, I might have a certain bias against Sir Charles, seeing as he wrote that my Native relatives might possibly be the missing link between the great apes and the Englishmen.

  4. Well done, Doug. You can hear Charlie singing Mein Kampf-style tunes in “Descent of Man,” one of his less cheery follow-ups.

    But, to be fair, who can blame poor Charles for the habits of humanity? It would be like blaming Hitler for WW2.

    And I know people do.

    But.

    If it hadn’t been for the tens of thousands of willing citizen-soldiers, and Juden-hating Europeans,

    Who asked no questions,

    And broached no opposition to the reductionist-eugenicist monsters,

    Hitler would’ve been painting postcards Wien, listening to Opera, and going mad, or getting over it. It takes an army of assholes to ignore one madman (and put him in charge).

    Dawkins, Dennett, Baltimore, Fauci – today’s dream squad. Goerring would be shrieking and prancing with delight.

  5. Does the theory of evolution explain the origin of the various breeds of horses? Are the different sized breeds a result of random chance or is something directing the creation of different sized horses?
    This is from Volume IV of “The Albrecht Papers”, chapter 5, “Pastures”:
    Within small ranges of latitude and longitude reaching no great distances out from the British Isles as the center, and all within the influence of the Gulf Stream, one can go from the smallest to the largest of the horses. The Shetland pony, or the midget horse, is at home on the more rocky, less developed soils of the Islands at 60′ north latitude. The Irish pony and the Welsh pony, larger but still in the pony class, are on the granitic and salty soils respectively, at 55′ north. Of about corresponding size are the Russian horses on the gravelly, glacier-deposited soils of north Russia, and the Norwegian horses in the rock-bound fjords at not much different latitudes.
    One needs only to go into Scotland with the greater clay content of its soils to fine such active and stylish hulks of horseflesh as the Clydesdales, or east from Wales and its slates into England with its clay soils to go from ponies to the massive Shires and Suffolks. Nearby in Normandy of France on soils similar to those of England where heavy clays, heavy plows and heavy horses all go together, we find the original Normans or the Percherons of tremendous body, surplus power, and excellent disposition.
    Through this small area–all withing the region where woolens are the common wear–the climate is not so widely different. Yet the soils include a great variety because the different rocks in similar climate mean different minerals. Therefore the soils made from them are different. Different soils make different feeds. Different feeds mean horses differing in size, speed, conformation and disposition.
    This is from Andre Voisin, “Soil Grass and Cancer”, chapter 1, “Remember that you are dust”:
    Our ancestors were well aware of the fact that it is this “dust” of the soil that finally determines vigour and health. At a time when metabolism, enzymatic functions, etc., were unknown, what they said was that ‘the animal is a product of the soil’.
    Then, as now certain areas were famous for stock-rearing, whether cattle or horses. It was a recognised fact that a Percheron horse removed from the French soil of Perche radically changed its character within a few generations. In the Ukraine I myself saw Percherons which had been imported at the beginning of the present century and pure-bred since. They still had much of the conformation and characteristics of the Percheron, but were hardly any bigger than the Cossack horses.
    The belief of our grandparents that “the soil makes the animal” can be expressed today in more modern terms, which, however, are no more than a copy of the words of old. “The organism (animal or human) is the ‘biochemical photograph’ of the environment in which it lives, particularly of the soil which manufactured the nutrients for it.”
    Gary Wilson

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