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How "disorderly" evolutionary processes are guided toward "order".

Post of the Month: May 2013


Subject:    | ... Why Can't I get an Answer from this NG to this Simple Question
Date:       | 24 May 2013
Message-ID: |

Jonathan, a creationist, opens:
>>>> I've asked it many times and in different ways, and the response
>>>> has been well, ah...vaporous I guess would fit.
>>>> 'Does evolution have a long term trend of producing
>>>> less order, neutral or more order over time?'

wiki trix wrote:
>>> I answered this question several times. Here it is again: evolution,
>>> like every other process, has a long term trend of producing less
>>> order over time. Do you get it this time? Sheesh...

Friar Broccoli wrote:
>> In fairness (although certainly not justified for this poster) you
>> should specify thermodynamic "order" (or something else that is
>> defined). Maybe you did that in a previous reply.

Jonathan wrote:
> Evolution produces less order over time you say?
> And the Friar doesn't take issue with that? Incredible, just
> incredible that anyone could look around the universe and the Earth
> and come to that conclusion.
> The Earth went from geology to what we see today and the process
> responsible for most of that is called Darwinian evolution. Yet you
> say this process tends to do exactly the opposite of what happened.
> So tell me, what mysterious force is responsible for creating what we
> see IN SPITE of your disordering process called Darwinism.

Deadrat's answer is the post of the month:

Back when I was in college (and this was roughly around the time when the Four Humour Theory of bodily operations was first coming into some dispute), a friend of mine got mightily stoned and wrote a paper for a class he detested. As I recall, he managed to insert his opinions of the professor's choice of syllabus, command of the subject, pedagogical style, and so on. The paper came back with a middling-poor grade and one comment:

"A silent fool will be tolerated; a vituperative one will be scorned by ten thousand furies."

I urge you to take this maxim to heart. You have earned your fair share of scorn in this thread, and if hasn't arisen to the level of a myriad of the Eumenides, it's because by comparison to other fools here, you're not that vituperative.

But you're not silent either, as would befit someone who needs to spend time studying a subject before expounding on it.

Your question is akin to asking, "If drunks stagger about randomly, how come they always seem to end up in the street and under the wheels of oncoming vehicles? What mysterious force is responsible for creating this mayhem IN SPITE of the randomizing influence of alcohol on ambulation?"

The answer is that there is no mysterious force. It's just that the paths available to the walking inebriated are into the street. The other paths away from the street would require walking through buildings.
Evolution is change sieved through the exigencies of the environment.
The changes are random; the sieve is not. As life started out unicellular and "simple," there were more paths from the simplest possible to the more "complex."

I'll use the scare quotes until you actually define what you mean in an operational (i.e., measurable) way.

But it isn't about the complexity, it's about the adaptation. When life became sufficiently complicated, there were enough adaptive paths back to simplicity. Parasites often lose functionality of their own as they adapt to take the lost capability from their hosts. Animals in a lightless environment lose the complexity of sight.

What's the "long term trend" in the average over time and populations?

Why is that important?

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