Doug Yanega dyanega at
Thu Sep 10 14:38:25 EDT 1998

This will hopefully be my last comment on this thread:

Mark Walker wrote:

>I do think it to be a huge stretch to suggest that random mutations
>are responsible for this process.  Talk about blind faith!

You have missed a rather large point here, as well. Mutations are not
responsible for this process, they are the raw material upon which the
process acts. The *process* is the differential extinction and propagation
of mutations. If one in a billion mutations leads to a new structure being
expressed, or an old structure having a new function, then is when the
process is most visible.

>        Mutation a "creative force"?  I think not.  A decay of order, a
>jumbling of information, a mistake of nature.  Left to its own, the result
>would be chaos, an eventual decline of life as we know it.  Isn't this a
>scientific position?  Aren't all of the laws of physics in agreement?

Pardon me if I get a little harsh here, but this "entropy" argument is one
of the oldest, tiredest, and BIGGEST fallacies of the Creationist Party
Line, and has been discredited thoroughly by one physicist after another -
if you don't TRULY understand about entropy or "closed" versus "open"
systems, don't try applying this stuff to biology, please. At the very
least, you are working at the wrong scale - drawing *analogies* which
simply don't work. By the same logic you are using to naysay evolution, you
can naysay life itself, which is ALL anti-entropic. "Photosynthesis defies
the Law of Thermodynamics!!". Fooey. There is nothing _contra_ physics
inherent in locally anti-entropic processes. I have a list of links on my
homepage which help put this grade-school pseudo-science stuff to rest. If
you don't have the patience to read them, just consider this:
        MOST mutations are eliminated right away because they ARE jumbles
and mistakes. It's the one in a billion mutations that result in an
improvement that count, because they will occasionally survive and
proliferate - and there's a heck of a lot of neutral variation that exists,
too, which can help bridge the gap between things which seem quite
different. Think of mutation as something which sometimes - but very rarely
- moves a ratchet and you'll be a little closer to the ballpark, and don't
forget that by definition, only *populations* evolve. Those 999,999,999
mutants that represent a "decay" *can't* cause a problem for the population
because they are *eliminated*. The ratchet will almost never move
"backwards" (and please note I use that term not in a literal sense, but in
the sense of mean relative fitness decreasing between generations), except
when the population size gets very small and drift takes over.


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-449-2579, fax: 031-499-2567  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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