Does God Guide Evolution?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #182

I know that evolution has been quantized. I have dialogued with someone who did that as part of his job, who was clear in saying that the environment did not play a role in evolution. There is no question that species changed and this can be diagramed. He gave the name of a book where this was explained. I looked it up on the internet, but since the price was approx. $100. I could not buy it.

On the other hand I did not give up but looked to see if I could find another book on the some topic, but more reasonable cost. What I found was a similar book, which was also very expensive, but I was able to read the introduction on the web. What the author said in the introduction was that diagraming a process was not the same thing as understanding how the process works.

This is the danger of what people call science today. Just because they can picture or diagram something, they think that they understand it. One can diagram the respective sales of McDonald’s and Burger King in a given area over a period of time and come up with a fancy chart, says which one has fitter genes, but that will not reveal the factors that caused these changes without another chart which indicates changes in these factors.

(George Brooks) #183


Roger, I can’t imagine anyone in Evolutionary research saying this. But, I’ll accept that you found at least one.

The point I’m hoping to convey is that “fitter genes” is not a meaningless term, generated with circular logic.

If you know that Evolution has been quantized, does that mean you now accept that “fitter genes”, being measured and compared to different evolutionary scenarios, is a valid concept?


Popper recanted that view, so I don’t know why you keep mentioning it. Also, science has moved on since the 1850’s, so I don’t know why you seem fixated on Darwin.

The feathered dinosaurs with wings did survive and it was because of the physical features afforded them by their genes.

It was a mutation that caused their coat to turn black, and that mutation occurs no matter what environment the mice find themselves in. The chances of the mutation occur in mice found in the brown desert or the black basalt environments is the same. The differences is that the black mutation confers an advantage in areas with black basalt which is why it was passed on at a higher rate once the mutation did occur. It is also interesting that rock pocket mice in different areas with black basalt have different mutations for black fur.

I am pretty sure that Dawkins takes environment into account when talking about natural selection.


I am both an agnostic and an atheist. Those are two different things. One is about what you believe and one is about what you know. There are even agnostic theists, in case you were wondering.

Atheists wouldn’t be dogmatic materialists. If there is evidence for non-material causes then I would certainly accept it. Given the massive success of looking for material causes and the lack of evidence non-material causes I certainly think looking for material causes is the best route, but once again I’m not dogmatic about it.

(Jon Garvey) #186

That would be the material evidence for non-material causes, I take it?:slight_smile:

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #187

Genes are not fitter or less fit. Organisms or alleles are well adapted or less well adapted to a particular environment. Then genes of the dinosaurs who went extinct did not change, the environment changed. The genes of the bird dinosaurs who did not go extinct did change to meet the challenge of the changed environment. It was the ecology that caused the changes in species, not vice versa as Darwin said.

I am very sure that he does not. Where is your evidence? Why does he strongly disagree with E. O. Wilson?


If non-material causes are said to affect the material world then we would be talking about evidence in the material world.


Transcribed quotes from Dawkins’ “Selfish Gene”. Any transcription errors are mine:

“However independent and free genes may be in their journey through the generations, they are very much not free and independent agents in their control of embryonic development. They collaborate and interact in inextricably complex ways, both with each other, and with their external environment. Expressions like ‘genes for long legs’ or ‘gene for altruistic behavior’ are convenient figures of speech, but it is important to understand what they mean. There is no gene which single-handedly builds a leg, long or short. Building a leg is a multi-gene cooperative enterprise. Influences from the external environment too are indispensable: after all, legs are actually made of food.”

“Natural selection favours genes that control their survival machines in such a way that they make the best use of their environment.”

I would also have to ask how you explain the black gene being found in one population of mice and the brown gene being found in a different population of mice? WHy do we always find the black gene in mice who live on black basalt rocks?

Mutations occur irrespective of the environment. For example, mutations that cause bacteria to be resistant to antibiotics occur in bacteria that have not been exposed to antibiotics. It isn’t exposure of bacteria to antibiotics that causes those mutations to occur. Birds surivived the K/T extinction event because of the mutations they already had when the event occurred.

(George Brooks) #190



I think you are quibbling. “Fitter Genes” can be stated in your context perfectly:

“Fitter Genes” means Genes ABC are more beneficial in Environment XYZ over time frame T, compared to Genes DEF in the same environment and time frame."

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #191

Natural Selection is not about fitter genes or fitter alleles. It is about how changes in ecology determines changes in species. That is what the science of evolution needs to say to make scientific sense.

Genes do not control. They are not persons who can think and act.

The problem is that Dawkins never defines what is “the best use of their environment.” If he did explore what was the best use or the best way for alleles to relate to the environment, then this would add a whole new dimension to evolution that I have been suggesting and others have demonstrated. Dawkins believes that genes determine the species, overlooking the truth that organisms cannot live in a hostile environment.

A careful examination of the evolution of birds indicates that the K?T extinct e4vent was the not the only thing that caused climate change at this time. The climate was becoming colder before the event. The event was the death blow to the non-bird dinosaurs, but the change was coming in any case.

Interesting thing was happening in that while the bird dinosaurs were becoming smaller, the nonbird dinosaurs were actually ge4tting larger. Both trends appear to be adaptions to colder weather. Feathers are a good insulation and were also an adaptation to colder weather. Science needs to be based on facts, not theory.

Ecological Natural Selection guides evolution by rewarding the best combination of traits. It does not create changes, but uses the resources available to do the job when possible which is not always the case. Research shows that that pocket mice have black heir genes and brown hair genes just as we do. This is how they are able to adapt as their environment does.

(George Brooks) #192


Roger, I think you have forgotten more about Evolution than you currently know. The sentence above makes absolutely zero sense.

If you remove a population’s inventory of diverse alleles (aka: it’s gene pool) from the equation, there is nothing for ecology to influence. Some members of a population are better adapted to the ecological niche; some members are more poorly adapted.


If genes don’t determine the species, then why do we look like our parents and other humans? How are these physical traits passed on from one generation to the next?

That would just be natural selection. No need to be “ecological” in front of it.

(George Brooks) #194

@T_aquaticus, the more you can put “ecological” in front of a term, the more Roger is able to process it. Leave that word out at your peril!!!

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #195

@gbrooks9 and @T_aquaticus

Plants and animals are engineered to reproduce offspring basically like themselves. That is good because species are fashioned by Natural Selection to be adapted to their environments

Now the genes of plants and animals do sometimes change. Usually this is not for the better, so that change is not rewarded and it fades or disappears. At other times the changes make so little difference that it continues because it does not significantly reduce the ability of the organism to adapt. Presumably some changes enhance the adaption of already organism.

However it is much more likely that the environment of organisms change, because this is always happening and can take all kinds of forms. When a species is separated geographically, they often become two or more species because the ecological challenges of each group are different. Changes in the environment leads to changes in organisms as they must either adapt to the now situation or go extinct. This drives evolution today and in the past.

Genes are not in charge of evolution. Organisms have changed because the earth has changed. If the earth’s physical environment had not changed in various stages, we would be back where we started

(T J Runyon) #196

Atheism != Materialism. For all the years I was a metaphysical naturalist I was never a materialist

(George Brooks) #197


Roger, I congratulate you! You have just done a fine job of explaining “less fit” genes and “fitter genes”!
Frankly, I was worried for you. But you pulled it off!

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #198

George, don’t worry. Be happy!

Explain what you mean by a “metaphysical naturalist.”


Perhaps you should read up on Evolutionary Developmental Biology, or Evo-Devo for short. It explains how the interaction of genes are responsible for development, and how those genes evolve. You may have heard of homeobox genes. These are major switches that turn on gene cascades, kind of like the first few triggers on a complex Rube Goldberg device, or the first few dominoes in a long string of dominoes.

The reason that we look like we do is because of our genes. There is really no way of getting around it.

If that were the case then humans who live in the same environment as chimps should give birth to children who look like chimps. This is not the case. We also observe that the process of genetic change (i.e. mutation) is not influenced by the environment. If we find ourselves in an environment where darker skin would be advantageous it doesn’t increase the rate at which these mutations appear compared to other mutations. There is no meaningful connection between the mutations that occur in a population and the mutations the population needs in order to adapt to their environment.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #200

Are you saying that there is no connection between the genetic changes that allowed the bird dinosaurs to survive climate change and the fact that they successfully survived?

(George Brooks) #201


How do you arrive at that question based on what @T_aquaticus wrote?
He is saying: if you are a Furless-Squirrel, and suddenly its ecology becomes snowy 12 months a year,
the cold weather is not going to create a hairy gene. If the Furless-Squirrel doesn’t already have a HAIR allele already, its’ going to be long wait until one appears (seemingly through randomness, but for you and me, via God-Guided Mutation).

Are you following, man?