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Evolution has lots of interesting stories about scientists studying changes within existing species, such as antibiotic resistance in bacteria, but nowhere does it provide evidence that such changes can lead to new species, much less new forms of living things. --Ed Poor

If we are refering to the biological concept of evolution, and not some other kind of evolution (such as cultural evolution) then we have to state that we are discussing the biological concept. Then we state the referent.

Clearly don't need the word 'biological' as 'genetic' implies this

An encyclopedia article aims at clarity. Clarity states, it does not imply. We state what we are discussing, then we state the referent.

Redundant none the less - it is meaningless to talk about non-biological genetic change. Clarity may indeed state, but this means true clarity never implies, and thus there can be no truely clear encyclopedias.

not true. artificial life, genetic programming, genetic algorithms, machine replication, all involve non-biological genetics and evolution. Unless one considers having genetics to automatically classify something as "biological," which strikes me as somewhat unusual when discussing computer programs and machinery.

Also removed telological language in statement about adaptation.

Guys, I find this a bizarre debate. Evolution is a process; one can also speak of the concept of evolution. You can reasonably say that the subject of an encyclopedia article titled "evolution" is either the process of evolution or the concept of the process of evolution. It doesn't matter.

For my part, I think "A biological concept that refers to" is poor strictly on copyediting grounds. I suppose that whenever we mention anything of which we have a concept, we should begin the article in this format? -- "A [field that studies X] concept that refers to X". So: "Validity is a logical concept that refers to..." "Animal is a biological concept that refers to..." Etc. Jeez. Why not just say "Validity is.." or "An argument is valid iff..." and "An animal is..."? I don't see what the "A [field that studies X] concept that refers to X" construction gains you.

It clarifies which concept of evolution we are refering to, the biological one. The text flows from the general to the specific. That is proper. That maxmizes clarity. There is no other way to unambigously show what we are talking about without using more words. There is a reason why this principle is used by every other encyclopedia.

It is not the case that every other encyclopedia begins articles about things of which we have concepts with the words, "A [field that studies X] concept that refers to X"--or anything like those words, either. Yes, text ought to give something like genus and species when defining a thing. That does not entail that we need to refer to the concept in describing the thing carefully.

I notice the new first sentence and paragraph. A distinct improvement. --LS

Rearranged some text and clarified some issues. This should suffice as a first attempt. I aggree with Larry regarding the start of articles. --jml

The sentence "Evolution therefore allows life to persist over time" was changed to read "...to persist over greater spans of time." Lineages can certainly evolve but still eventually die out. Also, the paragraph on the molecular basis of evolution was added primarily to continue the campaign against teleological thinking about adaption. Suze

Disagree. Some lineages eventually die out, but there are others that show no sign of being about to, and life as a whole seems to be doing a great job persisting itself. --JG

I disagree, in that the phrase 'persist over time' does not mean 'persist throughout time', i.e., it does not imply eternal persistence. So the change was unnecessary. But the current wording is not bad - just not better, in my opinion. TS

Is there a good place to put what I think of as "Evolution Analogizing". For instance, we have a good entry on Meme, but the concept of meme should be recognized for what it is - creeping evolutionary analogizing.

The first paragraph defines biological evolution as change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. But this is surely not called transmutation, right? Something is wrong. Isn't evolution simply the change of species over time, and the appearance of new ones? Genetics belongs seems to properly belong to the theory of evolution, because one could conceivably try to explain this transmutation without genetics. --AxelBoldt

I just changed the "refers to the change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time" because of the above reason. If we define evolution as the change of genetic characteristics of populations, then Darwin did not know anything about evolution. --AxelBoldt

Should evolution and theory of evolution be merged? -- The Anome

I would prefer not to merge them

  • 'evolution' is somewhat introductory (and the entry where one starts reading)
  • 'theory of evolution' gives details
  • Shorter articles are easier to read on the screen (it is easier to grasp the information structure if one has a chunk of information and then specific links with additional information; for printouts it is the opposite)


But (as they presently stand, at least), the page on the theory of evolution feels rather like an afterthought. The evolution page has a lot of details and technical talk, however. I agree that there should be two separate pages - one for the concept of evolution in general, and another for the theory (and mechanisms) of evolution. But the way the information is distributed at the moment doesn't seem right.

Stuart Presnell

Ed removed this important sentence, and replaced it with irrelevant nonsense, so I restored it:

It is worth noting that the mechanism (natural selection) is logically independent of the observation that evolution does indeed occur. Thus, a disproof of Darwinism does not in itself disprove the occurrence of evolution which is an observable fact based on evidence from many fields (e.g. embryology?, paleontology, genetics).

Ed, I respect your religious beliefs, and I appreciate that you want to cover them here. Please do so on the pages devoted to those beliefs. But keep your hands off the real science pages which you clearly aren't qualified to edit. A lot of us have spent a lot of time and energy and decades of education and research on these issues, and we don't appreciate that being take lightly by someone who hasn't. --LDC

I guess I'm not clear on whether Natural Selection is (a) what causes the species to come into being or (b) what causes newly arisen species to survive or perish. Make that clear, and I'll fold my hands in prayer :-) --Ed Poor
Perhaps you could read a book about the topic, since you seem very interested in it? Natural selection acts on variations. Over time it results in change. There should be several books at your local bookstore that will explain this far more clearly than any of us here. GregLindahl

Lee, I think it is very impolite to call an edit that you disagree with "vandalism". --AxelBoldt

Yeah, I could take that personally if I weren't such a humble and friendly guy <wink> --Ed Poor

I do get pretty emotional about this topic, but I'm really not a mean guy. "Vandalism" was a bit over the top, so let me amend that to "unjustified removal of important information". The best layman's explanation of the basics of the neo-Darwinian systhesis I've seen is Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker. That's a good start, although a real understanding of the subject requires years of study. --LDC

Added this bit after helpful advice from Greg

It is worth noting that the theory of evolution is not falsifiable, hence not a scientific? theory at all, since it includes the claim that God did not intervene in evolutionary history by creating new forms of life. It is held by nearly all biologists, however, for philosophical reasons.
Excuse me? Don't be blaming me for your complete misunderstanding of the issues. Again, I urge you to educate yourself by reading a book on the history of science and philosophy instead of editing articles on Wikipedia. GregLindahl

Removed this:

It is worth noting that the theory of evolution is not falsifiable, hence not a scientific theory at all, since it includes the claim that God did not intervene in evolutionary history by creating new forms of life. It is held by nearly all biologists, however, for philosophical reasons.

because the theory of evolution makes no such claims. It doesn't mention God's involvement one way or the other. -BD

Huh? Why is it called "natural" selection if supernatural action could be involved? The whole point of Darwin's theory is to provide an explanation of evolution which requires only natural processes. This is not to insist that the material universe was not created by God, or sustained by him, or that these natural processes do not operate by his power and will, but that divine intervention in violation of these processes is not involved. My objection to the statement is the claim that evolution by natural selection is "not a scientific theory at all", when of course it is. -HWR

What I mean is that the theory of Evolution, by itself, doesn't make a statement equivalent to "God did not create new forms of life." It doesn't say _anything_ about whether God created life forms; the theory of evolution isn't concerned with abiogenesis. However, once those life forms do exist, the theory of evolution describes how they will change over time. This is compatable with the notion that God created the first simple forms of life and they then proceeded to evolve on their own into what we've got today, for example. Not that I believe this myself, I'm personally an atheist, but some people do believe it and the theory of evolution makes no claims about where its "starting material" comes from (God or natural abiogenesis or panspermia or wherever) as long as it's capable of descent with modification. -BD