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Is the theory of Evolution true?

  1. May 15, 2006 #1
    I'm just wondering is the Darwin theory of evolution is actually acceptable? We were thought to believe about this theory since we were young but as our mind expands with other info I seem to find this theory somewhat false. He states that human origin comes from apes.... but if its true why are primates like apes, gorillas, chimps, monkeys.... are still here? Shouldn't they evolve into humans too? Why did only some turns to human? the theory have a lot to be doubted... the facts laid out were always questionable.... and somewhat changable to suit the scientists researching them.
     
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  3. May 15, 2006 #2

    Janus

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    Not to be rude, but you obviously haven't studied Evolution enough to have an informed opinion about it.

    Your argument about apes and men is a prime example. No, men did not descend from the apes we see around today. Rather, at some distant point in the past today's apes and human shared a common ancestor. They just evolved along different paths after that. That common ancestor does not exist anymore.

    But even if man had evolved from today's apes or that common ancestor was still around, that still would not be an argument against evolution.

    One population of apes could have evolved into to men while one stayed more or less the same; if the first group was exposed to changing conditions that it had to adapt to, and the second group continued to live under the same unchanging enviroment.
     
  4. May 15, 2006 #3
    You could say exactly the same thing about Fish & Amphibians, or Amphibians & Reptiles, or Reptiles & Mammals, or anything else.

    If multiple-celled organisms evolved from single-celled organisms, why are there still single-celled organisms in existence, etc.
     
  5. May 16, 2006 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    A mutation gives some member of population X a new and valuable way of exploiting the environment. Descendents of this individual inherit the mutation and concentrate on their new skill, differentiating themselves from their cousins who don't have the inherited ability. But those cousins aren't going to just curl up and die; the evolutionary gimmicks that population X has already got still work. (Example: early hominids get skeletal mutations allowing them to walk comfortably, their cousins remain restricted to the trees)

    So the two groups tend to live separately, and over time further mutations can occur in one or the other to drive them still further apart. This is speciation; eventually the groups won't interbreed.

    Both populations typically survive. In order for the older population to die out there has to be some change in the environment, like the comet that killed the dinosaurs.
     
  6. May 16, 2006 #5

    russ_watters

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    I don't understand how this misconception arises. The correct picture can be figured out easily from Darwin's story itself: birds on different islands became isolated and evolved independently. There is no requirement ever presented that one species must die-out for another to come about, so those islands could contain any number of combinations of new species, old species, species that evolved from other species, etc.

    Geological separation provides the easiest mechanism by which species can evolve separately from the same ancestor, possibly leaving one species unchanged.

    The Grand Canyon is another example: related species of animals can be found on the north and south rim, but because there is an elevation difference, the habitats, and thus the species, are different.
     
  7. May 16, 2006 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    Yes, allopatric speciation as this is called is easy to understand, but it is important to note that sympatric speciation does occur, where the two populations coexist but interbreed less and less until they are reproductively isolated and are regarded as two species.
     
  8. May 16, 2006 #7

    arildno

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    I agree with Russ that the idea of allopatric speciation is so easy to grasp that in my opinion it ought to be well-known and understood by every adult in our society. Unfortunately, it isn't.
     
  9. May 16, 2006 #8

    Curious3141

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    You underestimate the power of religious indoctrination. My boss is a Christian (believing in Creationism). He is also a Microbiologist and he's a foremost authority on resistance in bacteria. He sees evolution by mutation happening every day in the lab, but he reconciles this by calling it "microevolution" that does not cause speciation as opposed to "macroevolution", that does. He believes in the former but does not believe in the latter, since he holds that distinct species were created de novo by God.

    I know his view is logically inconsistent, and I've pointed it out to him (well, as stongly as I can considering I am his subordinate in an Asian society), but he seems happy with his view.
     
  10. May 17, 2006 #9
    I previously had the same misconception as the OP had but now understand that today's apes (humans are apesas well - contray to common opinion) descended from a common ancestor which is extinct today. We did not descend from today's gorillas, chimps, monkey etc.

    But concerning 'is the evolution true?' A scientific theory can only be disproved and never proved. So the question is unanswerable. But on top of that, how do we disprove a theory like evolution since it has no precise mathematical formulation and is formulated in such general terms? It seems that given we live in a rational world, evolution is logically necessesary given the empirical scientific information about birth of life, continents, genes etc.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2006
  11. May 17, 2006 #10
    I think of it more as a model, and i would re-phrase the question thus:

    How acurate is the Evolutionary model?

    I cant answer it though :P
     
  12. May 17, 2006 #11

    arildno

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    We did, however, evolve from an animal we would unreservedly regard as a chimp-like ape.
     
  13. May 17, 2006 #12

    J77

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    I think this is key - most people, inlcuding myself, don't have enough information to make an informative decision on whether evolution holds true or not.

    However, it seems far, far, far, more grounded than some of that other stuff, like intelligent design, that you see banded around.
     
  14. May 20, 2006 #13
    Why did our common ancestor(i.e. ours and that of today's apes) die--was it not adapted well enough for the environment?
     
  15. May 23, 2006 #14

    Phobos

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    Probably from the cartoon version of evolution...the "march of progress" which suggests life goes from simple to complex (where "complex" = "human"). Obviously, this is an incorrect explanation of evolution.
     
  16. May 23, 2006 #15

    Phobos

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    Just wanted to note that Darwin is not the authority on the modern theory of evolution. Darwin got the theory going and was correct on many aspects of it, but a lot more has been added since his time (e.g., genetics, many more fossils, etc.)

    As noted above, modern humans did not evolve from modern apes...they had a common ancestor.

    As noted above, a population can split and take different paths. As a metaphor from daily life, your parents/cousins/etc. didn't disappear when you and your siblings were born.

    Evolution is not a path toward humanity, nor is it progress toward any particular goal. Evolution is simply change. Bacteria are just as "evolved" as humans...each does well in its own niche.

    Only some populations had the circumstances which led to humanity. Others had circumstances which lead down different paths.
    (circumstances = ecosystem, variations from mutations, competitors, etc.)

    If you study the science of evolution, I think you'll find that it's very well supported by the evidence. The last part of your statement about the scientists suggests you've encountered some creationist/intelligent design literature with claims against evolution. Check out a science textbook for yourself. Sure, the theory is refined as more evidence is obtained, but it's not subject to whims or conspiracy. The evidence is peer-reviewed and openly discussed (i.e., the world's experts in the field review the evidence to ensure its validity).
     
  17. May 23, 2006 #16

    Phobos

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    A "precise mathematical formulation" sounds more like a "law" (which is descriptive) rather than a "theory" (which is explanatory). I'm not so sure the theory is "formulated in general terms" given that there are so many aspects to it in the scientific literature (perhaps one of the PF biologists could fill in some details here) even if the public debate only mentions some basic concepts.

    Anyway, aspects of the theory are constantly being revised. For example, a new fossil discovery may force a particular lineage to be redrawn from what was previously understood. Or perhaps the understanding of the relative importance of a particular mechanism in natural selection compared to other mechanisms is changed. Given how much evidence supports the theory of evolution, it's hard to imagine what could topple it completely (more likely, it will continue to be revised/improved). Finding a mammal fossil in a pre-cambrian rock might do it. Or if we find fossils distributed randomly in the geologic column and geographically (obviously, we don't). Or if we find that DNA is not the key to heredity (yeah, right).
     
  18. Jun 7, 2006 #17
    If the theory is correct then it is conflicting with the believes of both muslims and christians as the 2 religions believe that God created the 1st humans i.e Adam and Eve.
     
  19. Jun 7, 2006 #18

    Danger

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    So?[color=#eded].......[/color]
     
  20. Jun 7, 2006 #19
    That's your interpretation. The theory of evolution is scientific and only can use natural explainations for the variation of life on this planet.

    The interpretation that you have made, that it conflicts with muslim and christian teachings, is your interpretation.

    Science and religion are two entirely different things. If you want to believe the creation story of your religion that is your right. However, science's explaination for the diversity of life is the theory of evolution. It has overwhelming scientific support.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2006
  21. Jun 7, 2006 #20
    But why are they still no accurate explaination on how things evolve in the 1st place. The scientists tried to replicate (or close to it) the evolutionary process but until now aren't able to justify the whole process. there is just no clear cut answers.

    Can it be that the theory are using the wrong terms to explain the idea? I would think that hybridisation fits the evolutionary process in plants rather than mutation.
     
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