Examples of Sudden Speciation! (Plants too!)


We agree with one another. I am using a methodological definition of randomness and not an ontological one. IOW, our observations of mutations are consistent with a statistical model of randomness.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #22

What is a methodological definition of randomness?


It is a practical definition where you use statistics to determine if the observations match a model of randomness. A good example is the outcome of dice rolls in craps. In the game of craps you add up the pips on two die, and the distribution of random rolls should look like this:

This is the model of randomness for dice rolls in craps. You then compare the actual rolls over many trials to see if the observations match the model. The fit between observation and model is determined by statistical tests.

If you do get a good fit then you conclude that the rolls are consistent with being random. You don’t make any ontological conclusions such as God guiding the rolls or any other such thing. Your conclusion is simply that it looks random.

In the case of Luria and Delbruck’s fluctuation experiment they used a Poisson distribution to determine if the observations fit a model where mutations would be randomly produced by the bacteria in a random generation. If the mutation conferring resistance is produced in an early generation then there will be lots of resistant mutants in later generations when the bacteria are challenged. If the mutation is produced in a later generation then there will be relatively few resistant bacteria when they are challenged. This is an example of what the results look like in the fluctuation experiment:

Some cultures have no mutants, some have a few, and some have a whole lot. You can plug these numbers into statistical formulae and see if they are a good fit to a model based on a Poisson distribution. If you want to dig deeper into the mathematics you can find everything you need in the original Luria and Delbruck (1943) paper. And no, you are not reading that reference incorrectly. One of the classic experiments demonstrating that mutations are random (with respect to fitness) was done in the 1940’s, and this work was partly responsible for Luria and Delbruck earning a Nobel prize.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #24



First of all we need to understand that evolution based on Darwin’s model takes place in two steps. The first is Variation where new genes are produced by sexual variation or mutation. The second is Selection, where genes or alleles are selected in or selected out, which is also a continuous process.

Variation is a random process, Selection is a rational process based on adaption to the ecology. Both are required for evolutionary change. Evolution based on selection as people have said for a long time is a rational purposeful process, even though it uses random variation to produce the elements of change.

The key to understanding how evolution works is to understand this two step process which most scientists do not seem to do. Their confusion is the result of combining the two, so it has to be random based on Variation.


What do you mean by a “rational” process?

I would also describe it as a two step process where the production of heritable variation is random with respect to fitness and a selection step which is non-random with respect to fitness. The processes that produce variation will produce neutral, beneficial, and deleterious mutations, and those processes are blind to what the needs of the organism are. However, selection tends to promote beneficial mutations while eliminating deleterious mutations (neutral mutations are passed on randomly).

This differs from what you seemed to be describing before, where mutations were directed by the bacteria. To a biologist, this sounds like a process where the bacteria sense an environmental challenge and then specifically mutate a piece of their DNA to produce a pre-determined benficial function. This doesn’t match up to our observations of how mutations are produced. To be fair, I could have completely misread what you wrote before so I apologize if I got it wrong.

(George Brooks) #26


Try to remember whether you are describing Godless-Evolution, or Evolution-God-Guided (EGG).

The former is all random, from top to bottom, from any viewpoint you choose.

The latter scenario is ultimately not random at all… but may always look random from mortal viewpoints.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #27

Evolution is rational because it has direction or purpose.

Clearly it is not random. Whether it is God guided or not, is open for discussion.


A river has a direction: downhill.

A river has a purpose: move water from high elevation to low elevation.

Would you describe a river as being rational or a rational process?

(George Brooks) #29


If God is not guiding evolution, all you can say is that evolution is controlled the same way the clouds are controlled by winds. So?

In a godless universe, there is no intelligence to wind. And there is no “direction” to Evolution. In a Godless universe, Evolution is a “random walk” … just like the stock market.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #30


A river is part of a rational process and indeed more than one rational process. Then reason why we can say that the universe is rational is that it is made up of many rational processes which are designed to work together to create a rational universe.


You are defining rational as stuff that is rational and acts rationally. It’s difficult to understand what you are getting at.

Is there something in this universe that you would describe as being irrational or non-rational? Perhaps that would help.

(George Brooks) #32


You can’t say anything is rational if it isn’t thinking.

You can say that is orderly… you can say that it is “driving” other changes.

But it is surely not rational.

In God-Guided Evolution, God is the rational driver … dealing with the evolution of millions of less perfectly rational creatures.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #33

There are people in this universe that I would describe as irrational, who are certifiably “crazy.” There are also people who are not crazy, but are dysfunctional like Hitler, Stalin, and 45.

(George Brooks) #34

@relates (and @T_aquaticus )

Oyyy… you are a sliippery one.

I think what T_Auaticus was looking for was your selecting an act of nature that you would consider non-rational?

The quantum movement of quarks?
The sub-atomic movement of electrons?
Microscopic Brownian Movement of things on a glass slide?
The crashing waves along a shore?
The number of eggs laid by a Termite queen in any given 7 day period?

Or any other category of something non-conscious and irrational?


As gbrooks9 states, I was referring to natural processes, not people. If you are saying that the process of evolution is rational in that it can be understood through reason and logic, then I would agree.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #36

That is not true, If you look at the evidence and determine that the purpose of the universe is to produce a being who is able to understand the universe, which is the strong anthropic theory, then evolution is not random.

Another view is that the purpose of evolution is to maximize unity and diversity of life.

While I would say that philosophically these views point to the existence of God, they do not per se require one to believe in God. They are a matter of fact rather than a matter of belief.

God does not guide the wind, but God sets up a rational structure or laws which guide the flow of air, so that our environment works in ways that benefit us and the rest of Life.

Rationality is the ability to think, but it is also the product of thought. People are rational unless they do not use their minds rationally. Processes are rational when they exhibit that they are rationally structured. Nature is rationally structured, while there are instances when humans and human systems are not.

(George Brooks) #37

It would seem, @relates, that you are incapable of answering a straight question with a straight answer.

Let me quote from @T_aquaticus:

Can you agree (or disagree) with what T_Aquaticus states?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #38

Of course I would agree that the4 process of evolution is rational in that it can be understood by reason and logic. It is more than this because that raises the question as to why and how can it be understood by reason and logic, which I made clear with which he said he agreed.

I am very pleased we are in agreement. I wonder why both of you make a dichotomy between natural processes and human processes. Humans are4 products of nature also. The only difference is that humans can think so they can choose to be rational or not, and many do not.

(George Brooks) #39


We make a distinction between natural and human processes, because we are trying to understand how you are using your terminology.

When you say that Evolution, even without God, is rational… that is a rather striking statement.

I’m not sure what it accomplishes for you… but at least we know what you mean when you say it.


Just to try and understand what is being said, are you saying that the process of evolution itself is a thinking process like human consciousness?

I would say that this is a different definition of rational than the one we have been using. No human can decide to disobey the natural laws of the universe, so all of their actions are consistent with physical laws.