0
   

Does evolution have a goal?

 
 
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:00 pm
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the process of evolution as we have observed seems to be resulting in ever more advanced species.

Will the universe someday observe a super human?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 4,032 • Replies: 62
No top replies

 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:08 pm
It's also resulting in more and more extinct species.

And what's so great about an ape bent on annihilating the rest of the species?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:11 pm
Quote:
Does Evolution Have a Goal?


No
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:14 pm
Two big problems with your statement.

1. How can a process have a "goal"?

Rivers over time have been observed to wear down their paths to create canyons. Would you say that the river's "goal" is to create a canyon?

2. What do you mean by "advanced"? Is the modern earthworm more "advanced" than a T. Rex?

Certainly with more time, a process based on mutations can produce more complex variations of life... but there are many examples where later variations are simpler than the earliear variations.

But without a way to tell if beings without tails are more "advanced" than beings with tails, this is a question that is too vague to have an answer.
0 Replies
 
NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:26 pm
According to "Star Tek TNG" we will someday evolve into God-like, eternal creature such as "Q". But that's not for a long time.
0 Replies
 
username
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:28 pm
If there were a "goal", it would probably be cockroaches. They can survive radiation, pollution, temperature and habitat extremes that could kill us. We're wimps. They'll be here when the sun goes nova. We'll be long dead.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:37 pm
But, we're smart, no? And we have computers, right?

OH. And substitute 'predictable end result' for 'goal'.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:40 pm
Yes, and cockroaches can live in your computer (maybe your house doesn't have the darlin' little critters, but if it did, you can bet they'd set up in your computer). In an interesting television program which i once saw, they showed cockroaches which had evolved to mimic the capacitors and resistors in a televison. They were long and rectangular in shape, and had brigthly colored stripes on their carapaces. Nasty littel critters, but they've been around for about 350,000,000 years, and are likely to outlast us.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 12:52 pm
Drat. Suddenly I feel itchy.

No hope, eh?

Cockroaches it is?
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:02 pm
What does "predictable end result" mean?

Predictable by whom?

Evolution is based on random mutations, the word "predictable" is problematic.

There are general trends that are testable. For example if you kill off all of a population of bacteria that is vulnerable to a specific antibiotic, leaving only the part of the population that has genes that provide resistance to reproduce, it is predictable that the population as a whole will become more resistant.

This is repeatable by experiment.

But evolution as a whole is unpredictable.

But look at it this way. The process of evolution occurs when you have kids... and then they have kids... and then they have kids.

Is what your great grandchildren will be like predictable?

I think not.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:04 pm
No.

It's going be just a head with a dump point where the Adam's apple is now and of very low density so it can float about in a helium atmosphere and never get bored talking about itself.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:11 pm
OK, but so far does not evolution seem to have a direction? Which way is it pointing? Or, which way does it seem to point?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:16 pm
Nature does and does not have goals. "Nature"--if we can refer to some general "thing" called nature--is not teleological. But human beings, which are aspects of Nature, DO create goals, plans, schedules, etc.
So the question is more complex than at first it appears.
BTW, I have no patience with the notion of "God's plan" as a theological version of "Nature's goals".
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:16 pm
Nature does and does not have goals. "Nature"--if we can refer to some general "thing" called nature--is not teleological. But human beings, which are aspects of Nature, DO create goals, plans, schedules, etc.
So the question is more complex than at first it appears.
BTW, I have no patience with the notion of "God's plan" as a theological version of "Nature's goals".
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:17 pm
Yes, you said that.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:18 pm
Yes, you said that.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:23 pm
Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the process of evolution as we have observed seems to be resulting in ever more advanced species.


A parasitologist would smack you over the head for this (that is, if they weren't busy sitting on one stool looking at another stool). Where parasites can be linked to a free-living ancestor, individual specimens of the species tend to get less and less complex, adapted to an ever-narrower range of habitats (which is to say, hosts). Now, their life cycles can be ridiculously convoluted, and the amount of waste (in terms of percentage of individuals that do not complete their life cycle) is unbelievable, but critters like flukes and tapeworms are absurdly simple organisms, capable of only the most rudimentary behaviors.

You might think that a quibbling exception, but every free-living animal species has multiple animal parasites, generally dependent at some point in their life cycle upon a single species, so it stands to reason that the majority of animal species are parasitic. Thus, for every big free-living animal that you might assume is increasing in complexity as it evolves (if we accept that assumption as correct and meaningful), there are multiple species that have evolved and/or are evolving to live within a very narrow niche, obviating the need for complexity.*




* Complexity, in fact, is very expensive in biological terms. If a liver fluke suddenly gained the ability to grow a bigger brain in its cercarial stage, it would be at a distinct disadvantage: it would take longer to grow that big brain and consume more energy in the process than its brainlessly swimming cousins, and would therefore have less time and energy to find its way into a snail, and decrease its chances of getting eaten by a big vertebrate host where it can crawl around the abdominal cavity until it bumps into the liver, into which it will burrow and spend the rest of its disturbingly long life passing eggs into the host's bile ducts. Kind of like trying to get around town on a Hummer instead of a motorcycle in a world of $15/gallon gasoline and tiny parking spaces.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:28 pm
I don't know how you would do an experiment to tell if there was a direction or not.... but even if you could, I don't think you would find one.

Some species have more hair than their ancestors.
Some species have less hair.
Some species are bigger then their ancestors.
Some species are smaller.
Some species now fly although their ancestors didn't fly.
Some species now don't fly although their ancestors did.

Species often change to adapt to their environments. Sometimes they just change. If the change helps them reproduce (and helps their offspring survive) it will become a dominant trait.

But there is no "direction" per say. Whatever little change happens to help them survive and reproduce will be successful.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 01:38 pm
So we might be better off stupid.

Dubya might be happy to know that. . .
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jul, 2006 02:02 pm
Re: Does evolution have a goal?
neologist wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the process of evolution as we have observed seems to be resulting in ever more advanced species.

Will the universe someday observe a super human?


Over time, various DNA molecules have become longer and can code for more complex structures (organisms).

The young earth had relatively few long DNA molecules. The Earth today has more in comparison. There has been a progression along this line over time.

Putting aside all the subjective judgements of "direction" and "goal" and "advanced". It seems that there is a pattern over time of increased complexity of the DNA molecule (and perhaps complexity in general) as a result of evolution.

The question of Complexity is a difficult one, and one I have started threads on before. Some have argued that the collective bulk of living material is no more complex than at earlier times, and this is a difficult thing to measure, but it doesn't address the fact that there exist now, more complex living structures than once existed.

None of this means that there is a "goal" to evolution, any more than there is a goal to a crystal growing or a stone falling. However, a stone will fall 'down' for certain reasons, and evolution may produce complexity for certain reasons.

A similar pattern of increasing complexity exists in cosmology as well. The young Universe was a quark fog, but as it cooled, more complex structures formed, and as stars began to collapse and explode, more and more complex atoms formed, leading to more complex molecules and compounds and processes.

Some have argued that the notion of complexity itself is an ill defined state of affairs. But that's hard to support outside of a purely philosophical framework.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Evolution 101 - Discussion by gungasnake
Typing Equations on a PC - Discussion by Brandon9000
The Future of Artificial Intelligence - Discussion by Brandon9000
The well known Mind vs Brain. - Discussion by crayon851
Scientists Offer Proof of 'Dark Matter' - Discussion by oralloy
Blue Saturn - Discussion by oralloy
Bald Eagle-DDT Myth Still Flying High - Discussion by gungasnake
DDT: A Weapon of Mass Survival - Discussion by gungasnake
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Does evolution have a goal?
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 06/23/2021 at 08:11:27