Are there alternative scientific explanations for evolution?
Posted: 17 June 2008 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In more than one occasion, while reading about natural selection, I found statements like this: “discussions about Intelligent Design divert the public’s attention from serious alternative explanations for evolution”.
What “alternative explanations” are these? As far as I know, there is none. The only other “explanation” I have ever heard was based on the Nietzsche’s “Wille zur Macht” (Will to power). Nevertheless, I doubt that this can be taken seriously.
I you know any of these “alternative explanations”, please tell me.
Thank you in advance.

Alexandre
http://sciencereason.blogspot.com/

[ Edited: 12 August 2008 02:32 PM by acandrad ]
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Posted: 17 June 2008 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I believe the only viable scientific explanation for evolution is by natural selection. I’m not sure where you read these statements, but it’s possible that they were referring to various competing versions of evolution by natural selection. (E.g., group selection, gene selection, etc.)

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Posted: 17 June 2008 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It may well be in reference to the origin of life rather than evolution thereafter i/e abiogenesis. “Magic Man Done It” ends all need for further search in trying to understand how life prior to speciation originated, and as I understand it there are several science based ideas competing in that arena.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

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Posted: 18 June 2008 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I believe there are other factors affecting evolution, the genetic drift for example. But even genetic drift, which is practically a matter of chance, will eventually have to come under the radar of natural selection. What I find interesting is the study of epigenetics where the genes’ switches can be affected by external causes (e.g., famine) and leave a mark on the future generations; in a way epigenetics sounds a little like Lamarck’s explanation for evolution because the genes’ switches are turned off/on during the formation of the egg and sperm, and the parents’ behaviour could have an impact on the genetic (or rather epigenetic) composition of their offspring.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 06:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Actually I heard of a very significant record of this regarding (I believe it was) the town of Bastogne. Through the brutal winter being cut off from supplies the pregnant mothers later gave birth to children who became disproportionately obese in their adult life. The working hypothesis is a genetic change in utero.

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/giftofhealth/

The Dutch famine resulted from a Nazi blockade of supplies and a particularly harsh winter in the Netherlands in 1944. An estimated 20,000 people starved to death. Decades later, researchers studied the survivors and their children, correlating several health effects to the gestation of children in their starving mother’s wombs. These children had twice the risk of developing schizophrenia than the average population and were also more likely to be overweight as adults.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Interesting example, Chris. It seems reasonable that organisms would have mechanisms for adapting to local conditions quickly. Of course, individuals do so via physiology and homeostasis all the time, but I wonder if our success at explaining so many things at the genetic level might have led us to ignore some other elemnts of adaptation. Epigenetics is a new, and really interesting area of research, certainly.

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Posted: 21 June 2008 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I suppose that from a philosophy-of-science perspective, there may be, but we have not learned of them yet.

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Posted: 22 June 2008 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I agree with Brennen here.  Although there was no genetic change, fetuses who were exposed to extraneous chemicals such as diethhyl stilbesterol, grew up with very strongly modified primary genetalia in structure and function.  Thalidomid was another example.  A mother whose body can’t furnish the standard complement of nutrients to her fetus is sure to affect the development of it, quite possibly in the neural area.  We experience hunger and satiation as neural signals.  Dextroamphetamines used to be used as diet pills, because people just didn’t feel hungry while taking them.  Similarly, the munchies are a standard part of THC use.

Occam

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Posted: 24 June 2008 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Run as fast as you can to stay where you are.

Evolution in a nutshell.

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Posted: 24 June 2008 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Y’all could partially sate your curiosities by looking up epigenetics.  Basically, it posits there are inheritable characteristics that can develop and propigate via non-genetic means.

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Posted: 26 June 2008 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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More breaking news on epigenetics.

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Posted: 26 June 2008 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The deeper we’ll get to the woods, the more trees we’ll find. After we are done with epigenetics, we’ll probably find epi-epi-genetics.

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Posted: 12 March 2009 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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acandrad - 17 June 2008 10:51 AM

In more than one occasion, while reading about natural selection, I found statements like this: “discussions about Intelligent Design divert the public’s attention from serious alternative explanations for evolution”.

Defenders of ID call discussions about particullar aspects of Evolution, like punctuated equilibria as “alternative explanations” or “lack of consensus on the scientific community about Evolution”. It is actually their diversion and misleading strategy, trying to undermine Evolution instead of finding scientific support to their claims.

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