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Author Topic:   Does Chen's work pose a problem for ToE?
randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 1 of 84 (290118)
02-24-2006 2:07 PM


Chen, a professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology, discovered an important fossil which he feels seriously undermines some aspects of evolutionary theory, and basically agrees that the Cambrian explosion cannot be accounted for by current evo models. He says that the reason the West has such a hard time dealing with these facts is because "evolution changed into a religion", which btw is what I have been saying.
But the new fossils have become nothing less than a challenge to the theory of evolution in the hands Chen, a professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology. Chen argued that the emergence of such a sophisticated creature at so early a date show that modern life forms burst on the scene suddenly, rather than through any gradual process.
According to Chen, the conventional forces of evolution can't account for the speed, the breadth, and one-time nature of "the Cambrian Explosion," a geological moment more than 500 million years ago when virtually all the major animal groups first appear in the fossil record.
Rather than Charles Darwin's familiar notion of survival of the fittest, Chen said he believes scientists should focus on the possibility that a unique harmony between forms of life allowed complex organisms to emerge. If all we have to depend upon is chance and competition, the conventional forces of evolution, Chen said, "then complex, highly evolved life, such as the human, has no reason to appear."
The debate over Haikoulla casts Western scientists in the unlikely role of defending themselves against charges of ideological blindness from scientists in Communist China. Chinese officials argue that the theory of evolution is so politically charged in the West that researchers are reluctant to admit shortcomings for fear of giving comfort to those who believe in a biblical creation.
"Evolution is facing an extremely harsh challenge," declared the Communist Party's Guang Ming Daily last December in describing the fossils in southern China. "In the beginning, Darwinian evolution was a scientific theory.... In fact, evolution eventually changed into a religion."
Taunts from the Communist Party wouldn't carry much sting, however, if some Western scientists weren't also concerned about weaknesses in so-called neo-Darwinism, the dominant view of evolution over the last 50 years.
"Neo-Darwinism is dead," said Eric Davidson, a geneticist and textbook writer at the California Institute of Technology. He joined a recent gathering of 60 scientists from around the world near Chengjiang, where Chen had found his first impressions of Haikouella five years ago.
The Boston Globe, May 30, 2000, Pg. E1; Fred Heeren
Boston Globe Article
Davidson mentioned above states:
Davidson & Erwin: Neo-Darwinism Doesn't Work for the Cambrian Explosion
Paul Nelson
Seven years ago, I was sitting outside a hotel in China waiting for lunch to start (yes, I worked at gaining weight back then), when Caltech developmental biologist Eric Davidson walked up and asked me why I was carrying a diagram from one of his papers. The diagram depicted the complex control region of the Endo16 gene in sea urchins. I told him that I wanted to ask conference participants what process they thought had constructed the highly specified genetic circuitry (over a dozen DNA-binding proteins, interacting at nearly three dozen binding sites, to construct the sea urchin gut) -- what Davidson described as "information processing units 'wired' into the regulatory network so that they receive multiple inputs" (2001, p. 7).
Davidson smiled, somewhat ruefully, and said, "Well, I'm not sure, but I know that standard single-base-pair mutations won't do it" -- meaning, as he later explained to me, the textbook neo-Darwinism every college biology student learns. He was more blunt with the science writer Fred Heeren, who was covering the now-notorious conference we were attending. "Neo-Darwinism is dead," he said in an interview.
Davidson brought his case for the insufficiency of standard evolutionary theory to the pages of Science this past week. Writing with the paleontologist Doug Erwin, he argued that the "establishment by the Early Cambrian of virtually all phylum-level body plans" is not explained by the usually-invoked evolutionary processes
http://www.idthefuture.com/...son_erwin_classic_neodarw.html
So here we have a situation expressed by what appears to be mainstream Chinese scientific opinion and some Western scientists like Davidson that echoes creationist and ID criticism of current evolutionary models concerning the Cambrian explosion.
Is this validation of longstanding Creationist/ID criticism in this arena, and what do EVCers think about the idea that the evolutionary time-scale is compressed from 50 million to 2-3 million, and that this is insufficient time to explain by random mutations and natural selection the explosion of life forms we see during that period.
Chen's comments that there is no reason for bacteria to have evolved further is particularly interesting to me, and if you research Davidson's theories, he offers explicit predictions in genetics that would rule out random mutations being selected upon as the explanation for the Cambrian explosion.

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by crashfrog, posted 02-24-2006 2:11 PM randman has replied
 Message 7 by jar, posted 02-24-2006 2:27 PM randman has replied
 Message 9 by PaulK, posted 02-24-2006 2:45 PM randman has replied
 Message 13 by Modulous, posted 02-24-2006 3:04 PM randman has replied

  
AdminNWR
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 84 (290121)
02-24-2006 2:11 PM


Provisos for this topic
This topic was promoted from Message 19.
As indicated in Message 21 of that thread, the discussion here is to be restricted to Chen's work, and the problems it might pose for ToE. In particular, other issues such as Haeckel, pakicetus, pepper moths, are off-topic for this thread.


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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1579 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 3 of 84 (290122)
02-24-2006 2:11 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
02-24-2006 2:07 PM


Is this validation of longstanding Creationist/ID criticism in this arena
Well, no, it's not. The criticism of ID is that it never happens; this research seems to indicate one instance where it didn't happen.
I don't see how the second validates the first. Maybe you can explain it to me?

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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 4 of 84 (290124)
02-24-2006 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminNWR
02-24-2006 2:11 PM


couple of initial topic questions
What about Davidson's work? Shouldn't issues related to the Cambrian explosion be allowed besides Chen's find?
Also, are we allowed to point out the Chinese scientists think the Western scientific community is ignoring hard data and not viewing the evidence objectively. If that is off-topic, then could you also insist all evos refrain from the argument (here and elsewhere) that the scientific community, at least here in the US, agrees with current evolutionary models? If we cannot challenge why the majority is rejecting what we feel is solid evidence, then evos should not be allowed to make a point that we are banned from challenging, correct?

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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 5 of 84 (290127)
02-24-2006 2:18 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by crashfrog
02-24-2006 2:11 PM


what are you saying?
The criticism of ID is that it never happens; this research seems to indicate one instance where it didn't happen.
What are you talking about here?

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1579 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 6 of 84 (290129)
02-24-2006 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by randman
02-24-2006 2:18 PM


Re: what are you saying?
What are you talking about here?
The criticism of creationism is that natural selection and random mutation can't explain the diversity of life on Earth.
The contention of this paper is natural selection and random mutation explain all of the diversity of life on Earth except for this one instance, apparently.
I don't see how the second supports the first. Saying it fails once in a million examples, or once in a billion, doesn't support the contention that it fails in every case.

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jar
Member
Posts: 34136
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 7 of 84 (290130)
02-24-2006 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
02-24-2006 2:07 PM


No probelms at all.
This is but yet another of the exciting discoveries that are pushing our knowledge of the pre-cambrian era.
Here are a few other interesting findings that I've come across recently.
"Small Bilaterian Fossils from 40 to 55 Million Years Before the Cambrian" by Chen et al
Most major lineages of deuterostomes arose prior to the Cambrian Explosion
Daily we are gaining insight into how early life really began and yet more support for the wonders of the evolutionary process and increased likelyhood of not only the beginnings of life, but that life itself might well be a ubiquitous process.
AbE:
Add a link to a pdf of the Scientific American Article where Chen discusses early evidence for bilateral symmetry.
SciAm article itself
This message has been edited by jar, 02-24-2006 01:39 PM

Aslan is not a Tame Lion

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AdminNWR
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 84 (290132)
02-24-2006 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by randman
02-24-2006 2:16 PM


Re: couple of initial topic questions
What about Davidson's work? Shouldn't issues related to the Cambrian explosion be allowed besides Chen's find?
Yes, that is implicitly included in what can be discussed.
Also, are we allowed to point out the Chinese scientists think the Western scientific community is ignoring hard data and not viewing the evidence objectively.
This is mentioned in the OP, and can be part of the discussion. But it should not dominate the discussion. The emphasis should be on the evidence, rather than on the opinions some have of this evidence. If Chinese scientists think there is a problem then they presumably have reasons, based on evidence, for thinking so. The discussion should emphasize the reasons, not the opinions.

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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17853
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 9 of 84 (290137)
02-24-2006 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
02-24-2006 2:07 PM


Firstly it should be noted that the quoted sources are known anti-evolutionists. It would be very good to check their contentions against the primary work rather than simply assuming that they are correct.
All we can say about Chen from the quoted material is that he seems to be upset that his pet theory is not being accepted. We are in no position to say whether the reasons are bad as Chen claims or whether they are better than he would like to admit. It is highly unlikely that this represents anything worse than the normal conservatism of science - and without evaluating Chen's arguments and the responses we are not evne in a position to say that.
The Davidson argument is easier to evaluate, if the soruce is correct. Devidson seems to equate neo-Darwinism with a reliance on point-mutations as a source of variation. So far as I am aware neo-Darwinian theory is quite happy to accept the other known mechanisms of mutation (e.g. duplication, transposition and insertion). Indeed if the argument attributed to Davidson were correct he would be beating a dead horse - evolutionary theory certainly does accept the other known mechanisms of mutation. If neo-Darwinism is dead on these grounds, it died the minute any alternative mechanism of mutation became widely accepted.
Thus unless Davidson's argument has been misreported it does not apply to modern evolutionary theory.o

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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 10 of 84 (290140)
02-24-2006 2:50 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog
02-24-2006 2:24 PM


Re: what are you saying?
The contention of this paper is natural selection and random mutation explain all of the diversity of life on Earth except for this one instance, apparently.
Not really, and if want to call the Cambrian explosion, one instance, well, I have to laugh at that comment considering all major phyla appeared at that time.

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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 11 of 84 (290141)
02-24-2006 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by jar
02-24-2006 2:27 PM


Re: No probelms at all.
Well jar, he evidently feels this absolutely rules out random mutations and natural selection in explaining the Cambrian explosion. Perhaps that point just went right over your head?

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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 12 of 84 (290142)
02-24-2006 2:53 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by AdminNWR
02-24-2006 2:29 PM


Re: couple of initial topic questions
Ok, that's fair.

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 97 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 13 of 84 (290145)
02-24-2006 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
02-24-2006 2:07 PM


Is this validation of longstanding Creationist/ID criticism in this arena, and what do EVCers think about the idea that the evolutionary time-scale is compressed from 50 million to 2-3 million, and that this is insufficient time to explain by random mutations and natural selection the explosion of life forms we see during that period.
I have been of the opinion that evolution isn't just random mutation and natural selection for some time. Other factors are likely to be found, or explored, such as epigenetics. Early life may always remain a mystery, it may be that a mechanism that existed then no longer exists, or that fecundity and selection were very high. A mystery it may forever remain.
The problem is, I've read this article before. I've not seen much else about it since it was written. It seems he is basically proposing 'Harmony' as another force in evolution. Have you any more information on this proposal? Does Chen have any evidence for his Harmony hypothesis?
When I first read this article my reaction was
quote:
Had a look at the page. It quotes Eric Davidson as saying "Neo-Darwinism is dead," but I can't find the original quote. Note however, he didn't say the Theory of Evolution. And also note that this is suspiciously similar to something Gould said 25 years ago: “the neo-Darwinism synthesis is effectively dead, despite its continued presence as textbook orthodoxy.” (Stephen Jay Gould, Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging? 6 Paleobiology 119, 119-20 (1980)
I would like to see what kind of mathematics have been done to demonstrate that the mechanisms we know of at this time are insufficient.
As an aside, this topic has been addressed before, perhaps a read of Message 1 might be good for readers of this thread.

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 Message 1 by randman, posted 02-24-2006 2:07 PM randman has replied

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1579 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 14 of 84 (290160)
02-24-2006 5:00 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by randman
02-24-2006 2:50 PM


Re: what are you saying?
Not really, and if want to call the Cambrian explosion, one instance, well, I have to laugh at that comment considering all major phyla appeared at that time.
Why is that such a big deal? There's only 35, and their distinguishing characteristics don't seem to represent an enormous degree of evolutionary change. I mean, the things that seperate one phylum from another are things like whether or not you have a shell, or whether or not you have a "hollow nervous dorsal cord", or nematocysts, or a chitinous exoskeleton.
And you think those morphological developments couldn't take place in a few million years? Creationists routinely posit far greater morphological change in far shorter periods of time (i.e. all bears and raccoons from one pair of bear-raccoon individuals.)

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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5011 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 15 of 84 (290167)
02-24-2006 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Modulous
02-24-2006 3:04 PM


random mutation and natural selection
I have been of the opinion that evolution isn't just random mutation and natural selection for some time.
But do not random mutation and natural selection consist of the bulk of evidentiary claims for ToE, and moreover, haven't evos (perhaps even yourself) argued that ToE can be falsified by whether natural selection and random mutation can account for macroevolution, or are all those claims that microevolution is macroevolution and really all the evidence you need just so much hot air?

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