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Thread: EVOLUTION QUESTION

  1. #1 EVOLUTION QUESTION 
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    Hi, Im not sure if this is a geographical question or an evolutionary question but here goes.

    In some very remote parts of the world there are tribes that havn't changed for thousands of years. Some have only just been discovered. Yet in the modern world that we experience there are men walking on other planets, i.e. the moon !

    My question is, how can the majority of the human race have developed so rapidly, when part of the human race remains, for want of a better word, primitive ? Why havn't these pockets of human beings developed at the same rate as the rest of humanity ?

    BARCUD


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    The changes that you are speaking of are entirely cultural changes, not genetic changes. Evolution, in the biological sense, governs biology not culture. Were you to take any native tribesman as a baby and raise them in a 'modern' environment then they would stand just as big a chance as you or I of becoming a mugger, serial killer, child abuser, or politician.


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    Hi and thanks for the reply. I used the wrong word I guess, geographical instead of cultural.

    So, biologically, if such a person was taken from his or her environment and dropped into our society straight after birth he or she has the innate ability to become an astronaut, president of the US, another Stephen Hawkings? So are you saying that the position man finds himself in today, walking on the moon, building machines to simulate the beginnings of the universe, e.t.c. is due to a biological reaction to cultural environments?

    I guess that someone like myself that knows diddly about biology finds it difficult to understand how a fish biologically changes into a jet flying pilot! It's not that man has something biologically a fish doesn't, a developing brain, it's just down to cultural environments the fish or man find themselves in.

    I'm not trying to be funny, just trying to link the fish, with the person in a hidden jungle, with the man flying the jet.

    BARCUD
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    take the example of Papua New-Guinea : one generation still lived in the stone age, their sons fly airplanes - it couldn't happen this fast if biological evolution was involved
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    So are you saying that the position man finds himself in today, walking on the moon, building machines to simulate the beginnings of the universe, e.t.c. is due to a biological reaction to cultural environments?
    Humans are genetically similar. Living as aboroginals does not mean that they are aleins or a different species. They may have certain resistance to bugs in their habitat, but nothing dramatic like... gills replacing lungs, or fins sprouting out.

    We would have 'biological reaction' to physical enviroments (basically, evolution, which will still occur due to genetic drift even without a significant change in enviroment), but to link such reaction to cultural enviroment...is a bit absurd. Our genetic make up did not mean our intellect or IQ, if that's what you are trying to imply.
    It's not that man has something biologically a fish doesn't, a developing brain, it's just down to cultural environments the fish or man find themselves in.
    If you are interested in this, I suggest you read the book "The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of Nature vs. Nurture ' by David S. Moore.

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    Evolution can be observed over relatively short time periods (thousands of years) but the differences that would develop between members of the same species on that time scale would be quite limited. So whilst there are genetic differences between the various races of the human species, on the grand scale humans have diverged little in the last 100,000 years.

    Our culture has changed dramatically in what is an instant in evolutionary terms. It's not evolution in a biological sense, though of course that is still proceeding.
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    In fact the human being we are all related too lived only a few thousand years ago in south east asia.

    Prolonged isolation is a myth.
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    Um, human's originated in Africa.
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    Hi, I'll try to take on board what everyone is saying.

    Maybe I should just stand back in awe at the rate in which biological creatures have crawled out of the sea and started flying around and climbing the trees and shot off into space in machines in such a short length of time. :?

    thanks ya'll.

    BARCUD
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    Short length equals what, billions of years of evolution?
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Um, human's originated in Africa.
    That's the leading hypothesis, but it is credibly disputed by a reasonable faction of the scientific community at the moment. Time (and evidence) will tell.

    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Short length equals what, billions of years of evolution?
    Well, it didn't take us billions of years to do what the OP is talking about. Going from having no technology to space exploration did take a very short length of time in evolutionary terms. But it wasn't an evolutionary process. Our evolution just reached a critical point some tens of thousands of years ago that resulted in culture rather than biology becoming the dominating influence on our behaviour and capabilities.
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    Barcud, here is another way of looking at it. Walking on the moon did not take eight years from the time JFK announced the intent. It took eight thousand years, from the time we began to gather in cities and to specialise. Civilisation is an integrated system of skills and knowledge that gradually builds on itself.
    Only a handful of individuals in all history have generated a qualitative step change in that system. Most of the changes are miniscule on the grand scale, yet most add to the overall efficiency of the system.

    Pretty soon we cannot operate without them. I'm currently visiting Houston and hearing first hand how things ground to a halt in the aftermath of the hurricane. And all largely because one thing was lacking: electric power. But without that power there were no computers, no air conditioning, no working traffic lights, no refrigerators, no mobile phones - once the batteries were down. The system, civilisation, teeters on the edge of collapse at all times. Most people don't understand that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Hi, I'll try to take on board what everyone is saying.

    Maybe I should just stand back in awe at the rate in which biological creatures have crawled out of the sea and started flying around and climbing the trees and shot off into space in machines in such a short length of time. :?

    thanks ya'll.

    BARCUD
    Barcud, the lineage of fish that recently yielded Homo sapiens split from its last common ancestor with the lineage of fish that stayed fish over 400 million years ago. Approximately 40 million years ago the earlies primates appeared, about 20 million years ago the earliest apes appeared, and about 6 - 7 million years ago the earliest hominids appeared. We have had plenty of time to evolve into a species capable of the technological accomplishments of modern times.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Barcud, here is another way of looking at it. Walking on the moon did not take eight years from the time JFK announced the intent. It took eight thousand years, from the time we began to gather in cities and to specialise. Civilisation is an integrated system of skills and knowledge that gradually builds on itself.
    Only a handful of individuals in all history have generated a qualitative step change in that system. Most of the changes are miniscule on the grand scale, yet most add to the overall efficiency of the system.

    Pretty soon we cannot operate without them. I'm currently visiting Houston and hearing first hand how things ground to a halt in the aftermath of the hurricane. And all largely because one thing was lacking: electric power. But without that power there were no computers, no air conditioning, no working traffic lights, no refrigerators, no mobile phones - once the batteries were down. The system, civilisation, teeters on the edge of collapse at all times. Most people don't understand that.
    On the small scale I agree. However, the vastness of the system lends it a certain stability. Although there have been several purported "dark ages" throughout history, in reality human civilisation has proven to be rather robust because of its size and distributed nature. There have certainly been time when the species has taken cultural steps backwards, but we have yet to witness a return to pre-stone age state under any circumstances. I don't doubt there are events which could cause that or worse, but we have yet to encounter them.
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  16. #15  
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    There is some interesting research that suggests a qualitative change in the interconnectedness of the social/political/economic/infra-structure network over the last few decades makes a collapse much more likely, from even a small trigger. It was reviewed in a New Scientist article about four months ago. I'll try to find it and summarise it here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Um, human's originated in Africa.
    That's the leading hypothesis, but it is credibly disputed by a reasonable faction of the scientific community at the moment. Time (and evidence) will tell.

    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Short length equals what, billions of years of evolution?
    Well, it didn't take us billions of years to do what the OP is talking about. Going from having no technology to space exploration did take a very short length of time in evolutionary terms. But it wasn't an evolutionary process. Our evolution just reached a critical point some tens of thousands of years ago that resulted in culture rather than biology becoming the dominating influence on our behaviour and capabilities.
    As I quote, "Crawled out of the sea" =P
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  18. #17  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Um, human's originated in Africa.
    I'm not talking about the common ancestor. I am talking about THE individual to which we ALL are related. It's not the same.
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  19. #18 Re: EVOLUTION QUESTION 
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    My question is, how can the majority of the human race have developed so rapidly, when part of the human race remains, for want of a better word, primitive ?

    BARCUD
    I think it's because evolution is highly non-linear replete with critical points which if breached, cause significant qualitative change rapidly. The primitive tribes you speak off have simply not reached critical points in their experiences that would have caused them to change significantly whereas man in other parts of the world have reached them. An example: It's suggested that a change in climate from tropical forest to savanna forced our ape ancestors out of the trees to the forest floor causing them to begin walking upright, freeing their hands, allowing toolmaking, and further development. That though is just one isolated example. Thousands, millions more events contribute to our success, any one of which was missing may have caused us to develop quite differently.

    Primitive tribes are not more developed I believe because they've not been exposed to circumstances which may have favored that development.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    As I quote, "Crawled out of the sea" =P
    Could you explain this cryptic comment please.
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    Uh, the person I was quoting mentioned that we came from crawling out of the sea to flying in space. I mentioned that this took billions of years and was not recent at all... the entire span of things.
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    Yes, I was trying to make the point that fish evolved to crawl out of the sea e.t.c.

    I've been aware that this forum is specifically biological and that's where I'm having problem with things in my head. First off, either this planet of ours was made with biological life already on it, OR biological life was introduced at a later stage. If bio' life was already on the planet then it must have been a wicked bit of stuff because as far as I know things would have been pretty gassy and hot in the beginning. So life could have been introduced at a later stage when the planet was able to accept biological life. Either way, I'm back to the jet flying pilot again. This original biological thingy must have been capable of becoming a jet flying pilot all along. And who knows what the biological thingy is capable of as it evolves further.

    BARCUD
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Either way, I'm back to the jet flying pilot again. This original biological thingy must have been capable of becoming a jet flying pilot all along. And who knows what the biological thingy is capable of as it evolves further.
    cro-magnon man of 25,000 years ago was in principle indistinguishable from us in intellectual capability, hence would have been able to become a jet flying pilot given some acclimatisation + education in our modern society

    however, to say a sarcopterygian crawling out of the water 400 million years ago was destined to become a jet flying pilot given enough time does sound rather teleological - after all the same animal was the ancestor of frogs, dinosaurs, birds and us

    if man had not evolved there would have been no indication that a descendant of the crawling fish would ever be destined to become a jet flying pilot - it's only in hindsight that we can see the various components that made it possible for humans to become the creature that they are now
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Uh, the person I was quoting mentioned that we came from crawling out of the sea to flying in space. I mentioned that this took billions of years and was not recent at all... the entire span of things.
    Ah. thank you. Although if I may correct, it is only about 400 million years since our ancestors left the oceans.
    Quote Originally Posted by barcud
    First off, either this planet of ours was made with biological life already on it, OR biological life was introduced at a later stage. If bio' life was already on the planet then it must have been a wicked bit of stuff because as far as I know things would have been pretty gassy and hot in the beginning. So life could have been introduced at a later stage when the planet was able to accept biological life.
    The first life was comparatively simple and perfectly at home in the conditions prevalent then. Today we have extremophiles that live in similar conditions quite happily.
    It was the actions of some of these early lifeforms that changed the character of the planet - noticeably by pumping oxygen into the atmosphere. This killed off many of them - oxygen is a nasty, poisinous thing if you grew up on hydrogen sulphide - but provided conditions more suitable for the kind of life we are familiar with.

    Jet pilots require good binocular vision, fast reaction times and adaptable thinking processes. Much the same as prehistoric hunters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Uh, the person I was quoting mentioned that we came from crawling out of the sea to flying in space. I mentioned that this took billions of years and was not recent at all... the entire span of things.
    Ah. thank you. Although if I may correct, it is only about 400 million years since our ancestors left the oceans.
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    Hi, yes I guess there was biological life on earth at or very near the beginning capable of living in such extreme conditions. As the earth cooled, de-gassed e.t.c. this life must have adapted to ever changing environment. I'm surprised then that biological life hasn't as yet been found on other planets in our solar system. Could not biological life have adapted and evolved on these other planets ?

    It's interesting to hear that if we could drop a cave man into our present society we could educate him to be our jet flying pilot. I think I'm simplifying things a bit but in theory is that what I'm hearing ?

    What about our closest relative the ape. (is that our closest relative ?) Could the ape be trained to be our pilot ? Or have our human brains advanced that far from our relatives that this would be impossible ?

    The more I think about it all the more is sounds unbelievable that a little bit of biological matter has exploded into being everything we see alive today on our planet

    I'll stop there for now. Maybe I should have listened during my school biology lessons ! I can still smell the disected dead rat now

    BARCUD
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Could not biological life have adapted and evolved on these other planets ?
    Yes and astrobiologists suspect there may be life in the oceans below the frozen crust of Europa, or life in the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan. And some of us believe life may well have been detected on Mars by the Viking probes, then misintrepreted as an artifact of peroxide chemistry.
    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    It's interesting to hear that if we could drop a cave man into our present society we could educate him to be our jet flying pilot. I think I'm simplifying things a bit but in theory is that what I'm hearing ?
    Yes. I think several of us have now said this very clearly on multiple occassions. I may be coming across as rather irate, but I am at a loss as to why you are having a problem accepting/understanding this idea.

    Please note that you would be best placed to succeed by droppping cave baby. The more one becomes adapted to a particular culture the more difficult it becomes to adapt to another. This is why you would have no problem surviving in the jungle if you had lived there from birth, but transported there today, even given all help and guidance by a tribe of 'cave men' you would never likely get beyond the competence of an eight year old.
    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    What about our closest relative the ape. (is that our closest relative ?) Could the ape be trained to be our pilot ? Or have our human brains advanced that far from our relatives that this would be impossible ?
    We are apes. The other apes are gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orang outans and gibbons. Of these the chimps are probably closest. I wouldn't be surprised if you could teach a smart chimp to fly a simple aircraft, but I wouldn't want to be in the passenger seat when he did.
    Remember that you can't teach most humans to fly a jet plane competently.
    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    The more I think about it all the more is sounds unbelievable that a little bit of biological matter has exploded into being everything we see alive today on our planet
    Remember it took one and a half billion year to move from very simple one celled prokaryotes to more complex single celled eukaryotes; a further one billion years to reach the first multi-cellular creatures; half a billion years more to produce complex multi-cellular creatures; a final half billion years for them to make the transistion from fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal to man.
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    Okay, enter cave baby raised in our present society. Could result in you or me Okay I might just accepy that.

    Not wanting to irritate you anymore than I need to The problem I am having is with transition. Hope that is the right word? Surely there is a point at which a distant ancestor in our lineage could not become you or I if born into our society? My problem is where do we draw the line between the two? An ancestor that could become you or I and the ancestor that couldn't? Transition?

    BARCUD
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    My problem is where do we draw the line between the two?
    very hard to tell - there's already been plenty of debate on whether one of our nearest extinct relatives, the neanderthal, would be noticed on the street if dressed like an ordinary person
    my feeling is that the difference would probably be noticeable, but maybe not as pronounced as one might presuppose
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    Marnix, they are noticed on the streets... all the time. And they are far from extinct.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVvBXBZEhkw&NR=1
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Surely there is a point at which a distant ancestor in our lineage could not become you or I if born into our society? My problem is where do we draw the line between the two? An ancestor that could become you or I and the ancestor that couldn't? Transition?
    Current estimates put the appearance of anatomically modern humans (which would be someone definitely capable of being raised like you or I) somewhere between 200000 years ago and 130000 years ago.

    However, if you want to go further back than that, it starts getting a little iffy. Even if we know what species is the direct ancestor of anatomically modern humans, if you snatched one up out of the past, we're not 100% sure what the differences would be. As Marnix said, some people are of the opinion that Neandertals would have fit in society quite well, and they're not even direct ancestors - more like cousins on the evolutionary tree. We can learn a lot from fossil and archaeological remains, but we can't learn everything.
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    SO, everything that is alive on our planet today can be termed 'biological'? That is, a flower is biological, a television is not. The flower has a biological make-up and the TV does not? They both exist but only the flower is living because it is biological.

    What I'm trying to find out has to do with diversity I think :? Was/is there one common source of all things biological? Does a flower, a bat, a whale, a monkey, a bird, all have one common biological thingy? Perhaps a code?

    BARCUD
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    As far as our current knowledge goes, yes - all life on earth descended from a common ancestor. All life uses some form of nucleic acid as a coding mechanism.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Okay, so one common ancestor.

    So how come we have such diversity on our planet? In this one common ancestor, are there a billion connotations ?

    BARCUD
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Hi, yes I guess there was biological life on earth at or very near the beginning capable of living in such extreme conditions. As the earth cooled, de-gassed e.t.c. this life must have adapted to ever changing environment. I'm surprised then that biological life hasn't as yet been found on other planets in our solar system. Could not biological life have adapted and evolved on these other planets ?
    It's interesting you ask that because the early Earth was a nasty place. It wasn't until the Archean-Proterozoic (~2.5 billion years ago) that photosynthesizing bacteria started to 'pollute' the Earth's atmosphere into becoming oxygenated. How lucky for us that this environmental crisis happened, hey?

    Based on that, we recognize that life can take hold in extreme environments. One thing that Earth enjoys that other planets don't is residence within the habitable zone around our Sun. Mars is just too far away, and Venus is just too close. There are other factors as well, such as the presence of water (though Mars and Venus show signs of ancient oceans), plate tectonics, and an active core producing a magnetic field around our planet.

    Cheers,
    -thb
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Okay, so one common ancestor.

    So how come we have such diversity on our planet? In this one common ancestor, are there a billion connotations ?

    BARCUD
    A good starting point is wraping your head around the time involved. Bacteria have been around for about 3.5 billion years (Ga). Protista have existed for around 2.5 Ga. Complex, multicellular life has been around for about 600 million years (Ma). Hard parts in animals have existed for around 540 Ma, a date which coincides with the well-known 'Cambrian explosion of life'.

    When we create a taxonomical system of life both currently existing and life which is only known through the fossil record, we can confidently trace disparate species to a common ancestor. Usually it's through phenotype - morphology, behaviour, physiology, etc. - with attention paid to intraspecific variation. Basically, we look at physical features in animals and try to lump them together. Phrased like that, it sounds quite unscientific, but it's actually a powerful tool. For example, there's a book called Your Inner Fish where a paleontologist used this taxonomic system to target rocks of a specific age, and managed to find the exact kind of animal he was looking for. That's the power of evolutionary theory that most non-scientists never see.

    As you go back in time through the record, the idea of a common ancestor becomes more and more real, because you start seeing life before certain features developed. I forget who it was, but the question was once asked of a scientist, "what could disprove the theory of evolution?" and he replied, "fossilized rabbits in the Precambrian." Point-being, it would be that simple - no kidding - but knowledge of common ancestor predicts that you can look your entire life, but never will you find a rabbit fossil in Precambrian rocks.

    Cheers,
    -thb
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Okay, so one common ancestor.

    So how come we have such diversity on our planet? In this one common ancestor, are there a billion connotations ?

    BARCUD
    Over multiple generations, the common ancestor was subject to mutations (mostly detrimental, but with a minority beneficial) which were positively and negatively "selected". This is natural selection and is quite a self-evident process. That which survives to reproduce, passes on on changes. That which does not will tend to vanish from the gene pool. That's the basic mechanism of evolution. Incremental change followed by selection by the environment/other organisms etc. With each generation, the population grows larger and larger, and thus the rate at which we see mutations emerging increases. When organisms migrate to new environments, or when all (or part) of the current environment changes, then the selection process is changed. The two populations now begin to diverge genetically and, given enough time and enough changes, we end up with two species.

    So to get our current level of diversity from a common ancestor, we merely need the process of change and selection to continue for a sufficient time. Life has existed for at least 3 billion years, hence the diversity we now see.
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    Well, I'm finding this all very fascinating if difficult in some respects. I did my homework and according to Wikipedia our planet is around 4.5 BILLION YEARS old, is that an agreed figure?

    Were the seeds of biological life created at the same time as the earth was created? or was it created later?

    BARCUD
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  39. #38  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Well, I'm finding this all very fascinating if difficult in some respects. I did my homework and according to Wikipedia our planet is around 4.5 BILLION YEARS old, is that an agreed figure?

    Were the seeds of biological life created at the same time as the earth was created? or was it created later?

    BARCUD
    We suspect later. But the origins of life are still something of a matter of conjecture. The theory of evolution begins with established life. It does not, at this point, deal with how life came to be in the first place. There are a number of hypotheses and Wikipedia has quite a nice article on the topic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Well, I'm finding this all very fascinating if difficult in some respects. I did my homework and according to Wikipedia our planet is around 4.5 BILLION YEARS old, is that an agreed figure?
    No. religious nuts sometimes think it is 6000 years.

    Depends really on your sources. If you use the bible it can be 6000+ years.

    If you strictly are using scientific sources than we end up with a few billion years, a figure impossible for the human mind to circumvent, imagine, or comprehend.

    Hence people prefer simpler answers provided instantly by religious, cultural memes, and wackadiddeleedoo.

    Or even opinion.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  41. #40  
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    our planet is around 4.5 BILLION YEARS old, is that an agreed figure?
    It's not the kind of thing one can date exactly. Like, just when does a raindrop come into being? Of course it takes a while to form.

    Generally, our assumed timeline of Earth's inhospitable genesis has been pushed back by findings. We keep discovering fossils a little older than we thought possible. We recently found minerals (zircon) which besides being older than any other "rock" at 4.4 billion years, were apparently formed in presence of liquid water.

    Anyway, I suggest a working assumption that just as soon as life was possible, life appeared. It probably begun in conditions as inhospitable to humans as Mars or Venus.
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    Spuriousmonkey, I don't know how to put quotes into boxes, maybe someone can tell me?

    You bring religion into the discussion so you give me an opportunity to say where I've come from. I've always had an enquiring mind and hundreds of questions in my head. I used to read all the Von Daniken and Berlitz books and was intrigued by lots of so called mysteries. Religion offered answers or so I thought. I went off to college studying philosphy, sociology, pscychology and coming out with a degree in theology. One thing I didn't come out with is answers! I came out with the conclusion that there are no answers. All those years were spent reading and studying other peoples views about such questions.

    NOW, I read scientific books and I read what you guys write and its the same. All the books in the world are only words, and of course some pictures. A religious book shows a picture of a real piece of the cross that Jesus was put to death on. A science book shows me a picture of a jaw bone claimed to be that of a caveman. Yes, religion tells me the world we live in is thousands of years old, science tells me it is billions years old.

    At the moment I believe I know what religion is, I'm now trying to get to grips as to what science is, in particular biology. So that's where I am.

    Thanks for the replies, BARCUD
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    Hey Barcud

    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Spuriousmonkey, I don't know how to put quotes into boxes, maybe someone can tell me?
    Try the 'quote' function button that sits near the top right of each individual post. It will quote that whole post for you. When drafting your reply you will see the coding that results in the quote boxes and be able, through a judicious use of copy and paste, to manipulate it yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    You bring religion into the discussion so you give me an opportunity to say where I've come from. I've always had an enquiring mind and hundreds of questions in my head. I used to read all the Von Daniken and Berlitz books and was intrigued by lots of so called mysteries. Religion offered answers or so I thought. I went off to college studying philosphy, sociology, pscychology and coming out with a degree in theology. One thing I didn't come out with is answers! I came out with the conclusion that there are no answers. All those years were spent reading and studying other peoples views about such questions.

    NOW, I read scientific books and I read what you guys write and its the same. All the books in the world are only words, and of course some pictures. A religious book shows a picture of a real piece of the cross that Jesus was put to death on. A science book shows me a picture of a jaw bone claimed to be that of a caveman. Yes, religion tells me the world we live in is thousands of years old, science tells me it is billions years old.

    At the moment I believe I know what religion is, I'm now trying to get to grips as to what science is, in particular biology. So that's where I am.

    Thanks for the replies, BARCUD
    Good to see that you are seeking answers without making too mucj pre-judgement. Nice one!

    If you wonder about the arguments being used, I've found that Simon Blackburn's Think is a superb handbook of critical thinking - using the more modern history of philosophy, and its classic texts, to illustrate points about evidence, believability, faith and so on. Very easy to get into, but surprisingly rich upon re-reading. It might help you cut through some of the kerfuffle in the matters oyu are investigating.

    cheer

    shanks
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    Hi thanks, I'll see if this works.

    [Try the 'quote' function button that sits near the top right of each individual post. It will quote that whole post for you. When drafting your reply you will see the coding that results in the quote boxes and be able, through a judicious use of copy and paste, to manipulate it yourself./quote]


    Try the 'quote' function button that sits near the top right of each individual post. It will quote that whole post for you. When drafting your reply you will see the coding that results in the quote boxes and be able, through a judicious use of copy and paste, to manipulate it yourself.
    2nd time lucky! I just have to remember how the heck I managed it the second time now :?

    BARCUD
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    NOW, I read scientific books and I read what you guys write and its the same. All the books in the world are only words, and of course some pictures. A religious book shows a picture of a real piece of the cross that Jesus was put to death on. A science book shows me a picture of a jaw bone claimed to be that of a caveman. Yes, religion tells me the world we live in is thousands of years old, science tells me it is billions years old.
    There is rather a fundemental difference between religion and science as a means of answering questions.

    Religion begins with a number of assumptions which are non-testable, often by definition. At their core is usually some text (or person) considered to be "infallible", and essentially also unquestionable and untestable. So whilst you may debate the details of a religion, there is a point at which the religious authorities will respond to your questioning with something along the lines of "God did it" or a quote from scripture. The question-ending answer, basically.

    Science at its core says "accept nothing that cannot be observed". All assumptions in science must thus be testable by observation. Now, some science books may seem to you to deliver information in the same authoritarian manner as religious books do. However, if the book is half-way decent, it will either provide data to support its case or it will provide references to research literature, which is the real nuts and bolts of science. It is important that you understand this point; for the most part, science books are a secondary source. The true output of science is in the academic journals.

    They are by no means an easy read, but they are rigorously peer-reviewed and scrutinised. The results are all provided for you the reader to critically analyse.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i doubt that you really need to go to the academic journals for starters
    there are plenty of science books for the general public that explain how things got found out and what the thinking behind the current theories is - it's only the very basic science books that give you the facts as if they're edicts ex-cathedra

    while they have their place in coming to grips with the facts as they are understood today (provided the book is not outdated), the basic science books may give the false impression that science is nothing but a collection of facts, whereas in reality science is a method to interrogate the evidence and come up with a provisional best explanation of the evidence
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  47. #46  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i doubt that you really need to go to the academic journals for starters
    Certainly not, I'd go far as to say that the primary literature is the worst place to start. The learning curve is steep enough for science undergrads, let alone the non-scientist. I'm just trying to get across that there are good and bad science books. The good one's don't convey information without justifying it and making at least some reference to the primary literature.
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    The first thing I look at when I consider a book is when was it written? And it has to be written in plain understandable language. A glossary at the back is always good for me too. . . vitalism, teleology, bipedalism . . . The Mayr book I'm reading at the moment fits the bill just right.

    thanks again guys, BARCUD
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  49. #48  
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    Read "on the origin of species."
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  50. #49  
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    or its recent (1999) update by Steve Jones "Almost like a whale"
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  51. #50  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Is that about how the american people are slowly turning into whale-like creatures? Without the water, but swimming in the sofa.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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