Natural Selection- What is it and what does it do?

Well let’s look at what natural selection is-

 “Natural selection is the result of differences in survival and reproduction among individuals of a population that vary in one or more heritable traits.” Page 11 “Biology: Concepts and Applications” Starr fifth edition

“Natural selection is the simple result of variation, differential reproduction, and heredity—it is mindless and mechanistic.” UBerkley

“Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view.” Dawkins in “The Blind Watchmaker”?

“Natural selection is therefore a result of three processes, as first described by Darwin:

Variation
Inheritance
Fecundity

which together result in non-random, unequal survival and reproduction of individuals, which results in changes in the phenotypes present in populations of organisms over time.”- Allen McNeill prof. introductory biology and evolution at Cornell University

OK so it is a result of three processes- ie an output. But is it really non-random as Allen said? Nope, whatever survives to reproduce survives to reproduce. And that can be any number of variations taht exist in a population.

What drives the output? The inputs.

The variation is said to be random, ie genetic accidents/ mistakes.

With sexually reproducing organisms it is still a crap-shoot as to what gets inherited. For example if a male gets a beneficial variation to his Y chromosome but sires all daughters, that beneficial variation gets lost no matter how many offspring he has.

Fecundity/ differential reproduction- Don’t know until it happens.

Can’t tell what variation will occur. Can’t tell if any of the offspring will inherit even the most beneficial variation and the only way to determine differential reproduction is follow the individuals for their entire reproducing age.

Then there can be competing “beneficial” variations.

In the end it all boils down to whatever survives to reproduce, survives to reproduce.

Evolutionists love to pretend that natural selection is some magical ratchet.

So what does it do?

The Origin of Theoretical Population Genetics (University of Chicago Press, 1971), reissued in 2001 by William Provine:

Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for or against), force, maximize, create, modify, shape, operate, drive, favor, maintain, push, or adjust. Natural selection does nothing….Having natural selection select is nifty because it excuses the necessity of talking about the actual causation of natural selection. Such talk was excusable for Charles Darwin, but inexcusable for evolutionists now. Creationists have discovered our empty “natural selection” language, and the “actions” of natural selection make huge, vulnerable targets. (pp. 199-200)

Thanks for the honesty Will.

Chapter IV of prominent geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti’s book Why is a Fly Not a Horse? is titled “Wobbling Stability”. In that chapter he discusses what I have been talking about in other threads- that populations oscillate. The following is what he has to say which is based on thorough scientific investigation:

Sexuality has brought joy to the world, to the world of the wild beasts, and to the world of flowers, but it has brought an end to evolution. In the lineages of living beings, whenever absent-minded Venus has taken the upper hand, forms have forgotten to make progress. It is only the husbandman that has improved strains, and he has done so by bullying, enslaving, and segregating. All these methods, of course, have made for sad, alienated animals, but they have not resulted in new species. Left to themselves, domesticated breeds would either die out or revert to the wild state—scarcely a commendable model for nature’s progress.

(snip a few paragraphs on peppered moths)

Natural Selection, which indeed occurs in nature (as Bishop Wilberforce, too, was perfectly aware), mainly has the effect of maintaining equilibrium and stability. It eliminates all those that dare depart from the type—the eccentrics and the adventurers and the marginal sort. It is ever adjusting populations, but it does so in each case by bringing them back to the norm. We read in the textbooks that, when environmental conditions change, the selection process may produce a shift in a population’s mean values, by a process known as adaptation. If the climate turns very cold, the cold-adapted beings are favored relative to others.; if it becomes windy, the wind blows away those that are most exposed; if an illness breaks out, those in questionable health will be lost. But all these artful guiles serve their purpose only until the clouds blow away. The species, in fact, is an organic entity, a typical form, which may deviate only to return to the furrow of its destiny; it may wander from the band only to find its proper place by returning to the gang.

Everything that disassembles, upsets proportions or becomes distorted in any way is sooner or later brought back to the type. There has been a tendency to confuse fleeting adjustments with grand destinies, minor shrewdness with signs of the times.

It is true that species may lose something on the way—the mole its eyes, say, and the succulent plant its leaves, never to recover them again. But here we are dealing with unhappy, mutilated species, at the margins of their area of distribution—the extreme and the specialized. These are species with no future; they are not pioneers, but prisoners in nature’s penitentiary.

Not such a powerful designer mimic after all.

But there is one thing it can do- it can undo what artificial selection has done.

557 thoughts on “Natural Selection- What is it and what does it do?

  1. Tens of thousands of extremely able minds cannot see what WJM lights upon like a swooping peregrine. I wonder why? Oh, hang on, that’s an appeal to authority.

    Actually, it’s an appeal to popularity.

  2. Natural selection is differential reproduction due to heritable random variation.

    If the differential reproductive success is due to something else then it ain’t natural selection.

  3. CSI is more coherently defined than anything your position has to offer.

    OM is an obtuse moron and just because one moron can “support” another means nothing.

  4. If the differential reproductive success is due to something else then it ain’t natural selection.

    Exactly, and further, Darwinists cannot even demonstrate that any reproductive success whatsoever can occur “naturally”. However, they apparently can’t see that their ideological assumption of “natural” as the basis of what organizes and drives life doesn’t justify the inclusion of that term in their scientific papers and textbooks.

    You don’t see any theory of “natural” gravitation, or “natural” entropy, or “natural” magnetism, or “natural” erosion. Why “natural” selection? Why “random” variation? Those are patently, obviously ideological attachments purposefully utilized to drive a particular metaphysical narrative.

  5. Yes and the mutations have to be random, ie left to chance. Any directed mutation and NS is off the table also.

    As for why “natural” selection, as you said ideology- as in they needed something for a designer-mimic and sheer dumb luck didn’t sound good enough.

  6. What you get over and over from these Darwinists is “We don’t have to define “natural”, nor do we have to explain what it means in any rigorous sense; nor do we have to provide a metric that can be used to evaluate outcomes according to that claimed characteristic. If you don’t accept our assertion, then it’s for you to prove otherwise.”

    What nonsense.

  7. Joe G: And still nothing but drivel from the who….

    You can’t answer my questions, can you? Why don’t you read the relevant papers? What are you frightened of? If you want to claim that natural selection only leads to minor variations in population groups that will eventually return to an original type, why can’t you support the claim?

    You quote the following from Sermonti:

    “The species, in fact, is an organic entity, a typical form, which may deviate only to return to the furrow of its destiny; it may wander from the band only to find its proper place by returning to the gang.”

    He’s making this up, and you claim that he has thoroughly researched it!

  8. William J. Murray: Exactly, and further, Darwinists cannot even demonstrate that any reproductive success whatsoever can occur “naturally”.However, they apparently can’t see that their ideological assumptionof “natural” as the basis of what organizes and drives life doesn’t justify the inclusion of that term in their scientific papers and textbooks.

    You don’t see any theory of “natural” gravitation, or “natural” entropy, or “natural” magnetism, or “natural” erosion.Why “natural” selection? Why “random” variation? Those are patently, obviously ideological attachments purposefully utilized to drive a particular metaphysical narrative.

    You’re obviously a lot more concerned with labels than substance.

    “Why “natural” selection?

    Because that’s what Darwin decided to call it.

    “Why “random” variation?”

    Because that’s what someone decided to call it.

    Why is your name William J. Murray? If your name were Elmer Fudd, would you be a different person?

    “You don’t see any theory of “natural” gravitation, or “natural” entropy, or “natural” magnetism, or “natural” erosion.”

    You don’t see a “theory” called natural selection, do you?

    Just because the word “natural” doesn’t precede all other scientific terms doesn’t mean that there’s an evil conspiracy behind the words “natural selection”.

    I don’t see any scientific theory from you religious zealots called “the non-random artificial actions of god”. Why is that?

    Instead of freaking out about which words and labels are used in science, you religious zealots should be concerned with finding some actual evidence to support your beliefs and claims.

    To further illustrate what I mean about a fixation on labels, ID is just a relabeling of creationism. It’s still the same old shit with a new name, and it doesn’t fool anyone with a clue.

  9. Joe G:
    Yes and the mutations have to be random, ie left to chance. Any directed mutation and NS is off the table also.

    As for why “natural” selection, as you said ideology- as in they needed something for a designer-mimic and sheer dumb luck didn’t sound good enough.

    If you ever find a mutation that can be shown to be directed by your sky daddy allah, let me know.

  10. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “The ideological part is that because lack of evidence that any other intelligent designers exist is not in itself positive evidence that non-intelligent mechanisms are up to the task, ..”

    So a negative case against natural selection is not a positive case for design.

    Are we in agreement?

  11. It really doesn’t matter whether the mutations are directed or not If you have the time and ability to try all the combinations, you will find all that work. Lensky demonstrated that there is time, even in a tiny population of bacteria, even within the short span of a human working career.

  12. So a negative case against natural selection is not a positive case for design.

    Are we in agreement?

    Do I really need to state that only positive evidence for design is positive evidence for design?

  13. Joe G,

    Creodont2: “OM asked: “So where did the designer, with it’s massive amount of CSI come from?” ”

    Your intelligent designer must have existed in order to design.

    By what mechanism, if design was not yet available, was the designer brought into existence?

    If the designer exceeds a complexity of 2^500, a designer would be required to explain his complexity.

    So what mechanism was available to bring the designer into existence?

  14. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “Do I really need to state that only positive evidence for design is positive evidence for design?”

    Where is that positive evidence so that I can compare it to evidence for “natural selection”?

    I want to be able to compare both positions.

  15. T

    Toronto:
    William J Murray,

    Where is that positive evidence so that I can compare it to evidence for “natural selection”?

    I want to be able to compare both positions.

    That’s off-topic.

  16. How couls evidence for a competing form of selection be off topic?

    Because it’s a weaselly way of avoiding answering that there isn’t any?

  17. So, now we have the misdirection gambit. Since they apparently have no means to vet selection as “natural”, or to even rigorously define what “natural” means, they attempt to divert the thread into a different debate.

    Can anyone here just tell me what “Natural” means in the term “natural selection”, and how it adds any value to the term “selection? How about we just start with that?

  18. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “That’s off-topic.”

    //——————

    OMTWO: “Put it into the sandbox and link to it then. lol.”

    William, we’re discussing what “natural selection” “can and can’t do”.

    The things that Joe says it “can’t do” has to be done by something else.

    You claim there is positive evidence for a mechanism that can do the things Joe says that “natural selection”, (our topic), can’t do.

    Just point me to the positive evidence you claim exists.

  19. Just point me to the positive evidence you claim exists.

    Just point me to where I made such a claim.

  20. WJM

    You assume that life can continue **at all** via “natural” selection. For all you know, for life to continue existing beyond a very short span of time (if at all), artificial selection is necessary. The true quotient of “natural” selection might be death and extinction

    I do not assume that life continues via selection, natural or otherwise! It continues via reproduction! I was not invoking SELECTION as the reason organisms live. Selection, natural and otherwise, takes place among organisms that live, for some period. And so does the nonselective process of population sampling.

    Reiterating improper, ideological tautologies via “argument by definition” adds nothing of value to the debate.

    Your failing to grasp the most fundamental points relating what selection, sampling, reproduction, drift, and so on actually ARE, in their common scientific usage, (even leaving aside such qualifiers as ‘natural’ and artificial’) means that there is not an arena for sensible ‘debate’ on what they can do. I am not arguing by definition, but it helps to have some common understanding when one uses a word. You prefer to hide behind such dismissive tosh as “ideology”, and accusing others of wordgames, effectively sticking the middle finger up at my genuine attempts to explain and clarify.

    I appear to have overestimated you.

  21. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “Can anyone here just tell me what “Natural” means in the term “natural selection”, and how it adds any value to the term “selection? How about we just start with that?”

    Joe G wrote the OP and I think you should ask him this question.

    That way we’ll all know what he means by this term.

    How about it Joe?

    Can you patiently explain to William and the rest of us what “you” understand when you use this term?

  22. Your failing to grasp the most fundamental points relating what selection, sampling, reproduction, drift, and so on actually ARE, in their common scientific usage,

    This is is the same argument by definition, only rephrased. Because a process is commonly called “natural selection” by the scientific community doesn’t mean it has been vetted as natural in the first place, nor does it mean that “natural” is a properly scientific characterization of the process in the first place, which is the whole point I’m making here.

  23. Joe G: EvoTARDs can attack ID all day long but that still will not provide positive evidence for their position.

    Joe can attack Darwinism/NS all day long but that still will not provide positive evidence for ID.

  24. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “Do I really need to state that only positive evidence for design is positive evidence for design?”
    //————
    Toronto: “Just point me to the positive evidence you claim exists.”
    //—————————
    William J Murray: “Just point me to where I made such a claim.”

    Are you saying, there is no positive evidence for design that you know of?

  25. Are you saying, there is no positive evidence for design that you know of?

    No, I’m saying I’ve made no such claim here. What I’ve done here is challenge NS advocates to supply the very base minimum of any scientific claim – define the term used (natural), and provide the appropriate metric concerning the value the term supposdely refers to. I”m under no obligation to disprove NS or provide and support an alternative. NS isn’t valid by default.

  26. I’ve always taken the term “natural selection” to mean selection by nature (or “Nature”, if you’re that way inclined.
    By which, I’ve also always thought, is meant the result over time of the interplay of environmental influences and heritable variation on reproducing populations.

    I simply see no reason for this hooraw over what is and what is not “natural” in this context. If some wish to assert that there is an Intelligent Designer at work, in either or both of environmental change and the nature of the genetic variations, then the burden is most certainly on them to adduce evidence. None has yet been forthcoming; moreover that useful tool, Occam’s Razor, comes into play, since there is no need whatsoever to invoke ID to account for the diversity of life.

    I’ll make a prediction here. If JoeG reads this post, he will reflex with either or both of:

    “Your position has no evidence” – which is at this point irrelevant and/or
    “There’s loads of evidence for ID” which is, at bottom, an outright lie, and he will certainly be unable to point to any, merely claiming that no-one opposing ID understands ID

    Let’s be quite clear. No ID proponent anywhere, at any time, has ever been able to produce any evidence that any factor affecting selection within populations in nature has been influenced by anything that could be dignified with the term “intelligent designer”

    LOL

  27. WJM

    Allan: Your failing to grasp the most fundamental points relating what selection, sampling, reproduction, drift, and so on actually ARE, in their common scientific usage,

    WJM: This is is the same argument by definition, only rephrased. Because a process is commonly called “natural selection” by the scientific community doesn’t mean it has been vetted as natural in the first place, nor does it mean that “natural” is a properly scientific characterization of the process in the first place, which is the whole point I’m making here.

    Did I not say, “(even leaving aside such qualifiers as ‘natural’ and artificial’)”, immediately following the comma in the quote? Then you proceed to attack the ‘natural’ part again. You need to understand what scientists mean by selection before you are in a position to cavil at their use of the word ‘natural’. And you don’t seem to.

    When you say :

    “You assume that life can continue **at all** via [one kind of] selection. For all you know, for life to continue existing beyond a very short span of time (if at all), [another kind of] selection is necessary. The true quotient of [snip qualifier] selection might be death and extinction

    , you are using ‘selection’ in a way I can barely even grasp – as if it is some kind of life force or something. That is bizarre. Forgive me for ‘arguing by definition’, but there is no point you saying “how can blargs be skreebious” if a blarg is a completely different phenomenon in your and my lexicon.

  28. I’ve always taken the term “natural selection” to mean selection by nature (or “Nature”, if you’re that way inclined.

    So you think self-reference is a valid scientific explanation of the term?

  29. Furthermore, I think that natural selection IS the default position, until there is evidence otherwise to consider.

  30. Allan,

    Then tell me what “natural” means in the phrase “natural selection”, and why it is used, and if there is any applicable metric for determining if it is a valid qualifier or not of any set of selection events.

  31. damitall2:
    Furthermore, I think that natural selection IS the default position, until there is evidence otherwise to consider.

    That’s called begging the question, or simply assuming what you are required to prove, and then shifting the burden.

  32. William J Murray,

    damitall2: “Furthermore, I think that natural selection IS the default position, until there is evidence otherwise to consider.”
    //————————————–
    William J Murray: “That’s called begging the question, or simply assuming what you are required to prove, and then shifting the burden.”

    But natural selection is the default position BECAUSE it is backed by positive evidence.

    You may not like the evidence, but it is there for you to inspect, because it is positive evidence.

    What positive evidence can we compare it to from your side?

  33. But natural selection is the default position BECAUSE it is backed by positive evidence.

    If there is evidence for something, it is not a “default position”.

    What is the positive evidence that selection events are natural? You’ll have to define what “natural” means in the context of the phrase “natural selection”, and then provide the metric that can substantiate such a characterization in a scientific manner as applied to a set of selection events.

  34. William J. Murray: So you think self-reference is a valid scientific explanation of the term?

    I made no claim to scientific validity. But I would claim that my use of the term has utility when I discuss natural selection with people who want to discuss natural selection as a phenomenon, rather than making a semantic shambles of it.
    I’m very happy that the term used among biologists adequately describes what happens when a sub-population of an organism survives an inimical change in its environment, or is better able to utilise a resource and out-reproduce competitors, because of a genetic change.
    I’ve frequently noted that IDists, in particular, will quibble endlessly about meanings of words before entering into any actual discussion about the subject in hand – usually without ever agreeing to any particular definition, and thus permanently deferring meaningful debate. This is, of course, a mere device to avoid being trounced – pwned, I believe the term is

  35. What’s funny here is that I think this boils down to a simple ideological equivocation, that “selection” and “natural selection” are one and the same thing. If one assumes materialism true, then of course, ultimately, all selection events are “natural” selection events, even those that are purposefully arranged by intelligent agencies for a purpose — which explains why we already have two people (including Elizabeth) arguing that even artificial selection events fall under the “natural selection” umbrella.

  36. Joe G: No one knows…

    You know Joe. The answer is “none at all will reach fixation”.

    Otherwise NS works.

    Joe G: As I said “beneficial” is relative and changes- meaing what is beneficial for one year or one generation may not be beneficial the next year/ generation

    Joe G:
    LoL! Of course if what is beneficial changes than that affects the fixation rate.

    So, as you don’t know what % can be fixed even with all your additions you don’t know that NS does nothing.

    You don’t know anything about it in fact. You rely on the fact that this is spread over several pages, so your flawed position is difficult to apprehend all at once.

    But here it is. You object to NS because random events can prevent anything reaching fixation. But you can’t even begin to guess if that affects all, some or none of a population. It just “might”. And that’s enough for Joe.

    According to you you can claim with certainty what NS can and cannot do, enough to create a OP on a scientists blog to engage with other scientists.

    Yet the best you can come up with when asked for supporting data is “No one knows”. All that means is that you don’t know or can even begin to take a position, not that nobody else cannot. And you are mistaken, not that you would ever admit it of course.

    And it’s funny how you can’t even think of a way of finding out. If you were to find out what you’d find would be empirical support for ID, would it not? So why are you so unwilling to even contemplate the idea of thinking up a way of testing it so you can replace your “I don’t know” with *something*?

  37. William J. Murray: No, I’m saying I’ve made no such claim here. What I’ve done here is challenge NS advocates to supply the very base minimum of any scientific claim – define the term used (natural), and provide the appropriate metric concerning the value the term supposdely refers to. I”m under no obligation to disprove NS or provide and support an alternative. NS isn’t valid by default.

    It’s a phrase well established in the English language. If you fail to grasp its meaning, that’s entirely your problem.

    Why not read Darwin if you want to understand the history of the term? That might help you with your use of “Darwinist” and “Darwinian” as well.

    Then you could go on to find out about the modern theory of evolution, which might be a good idea as you seem to have a strong personal desire to criticise it; a desire which certainly isn’t currently based on any evident knowledge of the subject.

  38. William J. Murray: What’s funny here is that I think this boils down to a simple ideological equivocation, that “selection” and “natural selection” are one and the same thing. If one assumes materialism true, then of course, ultimately, all selection events are “natural” selection events, even those that are purposefully arranged by intelligent agencies for a purpose — which explains why we already have two people (including Elizabeth) arguing that even artificial selection events fall under the “natural selection” umbrella.

    Can you suggest a label for selection events that are not purposefully arranged by intelligent agencies for a purpose?

    So we have:

    Intelligent Selection: purposefully arranged by intelligent agencies for a purpose (e.g. dog breeding)

    Natural Selection: arranged by nature unaided from known (to us) agencies (e.g. origin of Thylacine decided at origin of universe by telic force)

    Natural Natural Selection: arranged by nature unaided from known OR unknown agencies (e.g. origin of Thylacine)

    So to satisfy you we simply need to use a different label, and then that would be more accurate?

    which explains why we already have two people (including Elizabeth) arguing that even artificial selection events fall under the “natural selection” umbrella

    If you want to expand the labels in use, just name and define a new one. We can then use that, for clarity, in future. I have done so above, do you agree with my definitions?

  39. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “If there is evidence for something, it is not a “default position”.”

    If there is positive evidence for “one” thing, but no positive evidence for any “other” thing, then that “one” thing, by default, is the “default position”.

    If you have some other position with positive evidence, present it.

  40. Toronto: If you have some other position with positive evidence, present it.

    As far as I can tell, William appears to be saying that a given random distribution is not in fact random but can’t actually present any evidence to support that other then the fact that there is no evidence other then the distribution itself to support the claim that the distribution is actually random.

    I think.

    So, no dice can ever be fair in Williams world and IMHO that’s why he’s studiously avoiding that particular question.

  41. The Evo Song- Poof, the Magic Mutant (to the tune “Puff the Magic Dragon”)

    Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be.
    Little Richard Dawkins, loved that rascal Poof.
    And wrote him books to appease the kooks, oh what a silly goof!

    Oh Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be
    Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be

    Together they would mutate Poof into a beluga whale
    Richard kept a spectroscope trained on Poof’s mutating tail.
    Nobel things and atheists bowed whene’er they came
    Scientists would lower their flasks when Poof mutated a mane

    Oh Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be
    Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be

    Mutations can’t go on forever, just like little boys
    Antennaed wings and giant things doom nature’s mutant ploys
    One gray night it happened, natural selection said no more
    And Poof that Magic Mutant, mutated one last roar

    His head was bent in sorrow, his tears fell like rain
    Richard no longer went to write it gave him so much pain
    Without his life-long friend Dick could not be brave
    So Dick that evo-poofer sadly slipped in to his cave

    Oh Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be
    Poof the Magic Mutant, a-t-g-c
    And changed them just by randomness just to see what he could be

    (repeat chorus and fade…)

  42. It’s a phrase well established in the English language. If you fail to grasp its meaning, that’s entirely your problem.

    I’m asking how it is being specifically used in this instance to avoid confusion. Care to tell me how it is being specifically used in the phrase “natural selection”?

    Natural Selection: arranged by nature unaided from known (to us) agencies (e.g. origin of Thylacine decided at origin of universe by telic force)

    So, under this definition, the term “natural” includes intelligent selection, as long as we don’t know about it? This means that even if every selection event is purposefully planned by an unknown intelligent agency, “natural” is still an appropriate characterization of the selection process? If the characterizing modifier can include exactly what it is not, as long as that agency is “unknown”, why bother using such a characterization at all?

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