We are speaking about population as certain selective forces that affects a subset of a species, because (for example) it is geographically localized. The Plague affected (and thus selected) humans in Europe in the middle ages. It had little effect on aboriginal Australians at that moment. Thus the theory of evolution deals with populations (and in some cases the population can encompass the whole species).
Whipping out whole species with an asteroid is not selection. Selection, by definition, is something that causes different mortality and/or fecundity among bearers of different hereditary trait. When everyone, irrespective of their traits, experience the same mortality, then it is not selection.
The term "natural selection" was coined to distinguish from selection which has a conscious actor behind it (human breeders). It was important in Darwin's time, as people were not comfortable with the thought that the mere environment can also exert a selective force. Now, at least I hope, but comments on this list sometimes question my faith in humanity, people (not just scientist, but the general populace too) had accepted that nature can also select, not only human breeders.
Sometimes we can pinpoint what (abiotic forces, like cold) or who (other individuals, from parasites, to preys, predators and competitors) select for a certain trait. In the general theory, it does not matter what is the specifics of selection, its existence is the only criterium.
If we would always simplify the complexity of the environment to one factor, then we would arrive at prediction that would be clearly false. The fox eats the rabbit. So foxes are selective agents on rabbits (if there is variation in the traits of rabbits that affects their probability of being captured). However, if we think that the fox is the only selective force on the rabbit, then we might conclude that the rabbit should grow to the size of an ox to escape predation by the fox. Would that be a solution? Yes. Would that happen? No. At certain sizes (and rabbits could already be at that size), lack of food would limit their ability to grow further. And then the selective "agents" are a mix of plant species.
The fox does not exclusively eat rabbits, nor does the rabbit only eat one plant species. Thus they exert selective force on many species, and many species exert a selective force on them. As evolution is, by definition, change in frequency in a heritable trait in a population, our investigations generally focus on one species and its environment. However, the theory of coevolution acknowledges the fact that an evolving population changes the environment of other species' population which, in turn, can also evolve because of this. Thus, the environment is not something fixed, but can very well change, even if the climate (or the abiotic part of the environment in general) does not change.
To take your last point first: evolutionary theorists use the word "population" to exclusively refer to subsets of species.
Thus the term "natural selection" is severely myopic, so to speak.
Biologists are shirking their duty if they call the selector "the environment" and let it go at that. Since we are talking about mere populations in their sense, they should be able to narrow down the selectors to a great extent. Only by understanding the environmental forces in each case, can they make predictions about the future of a population, or suggest the best way for humans to affect it.
Cenozoic and Mesozoic are very appropriate words about the effects of the last great extinction. Currrent evolutionary theory is too much the theory of microevolution, which is unable to predict the large scale consequences of such great extinctions. It speaks of "ecological niches" but some have never been filled because of limitations of mammals and birds in comparison to dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
Why the title, "Francis Crick's Illusion"? I suppose it refers to Crick's claim about the forces that produced our mind. Blind ones, supposedly, as befits an atheist like Crick.
But even so, a better title would be, "Crick's Paradox". He points to a fundamental mystery that materialism is all but powerless to unravel. Namely, IF our minds are the product of reductionist concepts of mutation and natural selection, what accounts for the staggering serendipity of being able to unlock the deepest purely physical attributes of our universe?
Moreover, the very term "natural selection" has a deeply unnatural meaning. It is confined to mere populations, and evolutionary theorists are remarkably reticent about what does the selecting. One of the biggest "selectors" was an asteroid that wiped out a vast array of living things -- so much so that what followed is called the Cenozoic Era, while what came before was the Mesozoic. [Ponder the etymology of those two words.] Whole orders were wiped out, and this selector paid scant attention, so to speak, to distinctions between members of any given population.
Professor, Dept. of Mathematics
University of South Carolina
Dear Prof. John J. Kineman,
Thank you for agreeing to the view on the limitation of mechanistic science to understand life (the blade of grass). Modern scientific knowledge of nature is entirely based on the reasoning of the mechanism that governs natural processes. Science tries to present nature as intrinsically associated with a mechanical explanation. Till date, the majority of the scientists (including the field of quantum mechanics) only study nature with the idea that as if it is dictated mechanically by different mechanistic laws. The egoistic view in mechanistic science continues with the notion that certain causal laws will ultimately produce more or less well-confirmed conjectures. Majority of modern scientific work is generally made itself confined to such wishful conjectures because most of the scientists simply presume that everything in our universe is mechanically united. As a result, what we have witnessed in science is the laws which we find convincing at one time may be replaced by apparently more fitting laws at a later time. It is for this reason that Immanuel Kant said that without “the principle of the mechanism of nature there can be no science of nature at all.”
Mechanistic science, by considering reality as complex material wholes only make an attempt to study causal interaction between the forces of the parts of matter. However, QM establishes that such laws can never be known with full certainty and thus it is a mere illusion to live with the conception that nature can be understood by mere mechanistic science. With the progress of science mechanistic conceptions of nature have come under severe scientific critique because all such attempts failed to reduce nature to the laws of science and this approach severely fail to account for the organic aspects of nature: ‘No Newton of the Grass Blade’. At the most fundamental level, mechanistic science can at best deal with the interaction between the fundamental powers of matter – the powers of attraction and repulsion. But, it cannot explain how a blade of grass can appear from that interaction of the powers of attraction and repulsion.
Bhakti Niskama Shanta
Dear Dr. Ralph Frost,
Please read our recent reply to Prof. John J. Kineman on the same thread where we have stated:
At the most fundamental level, mechanistic science can at best deal with the interaction between the fundamental powers of matter – the powers of attraction and repulsion. But, it cannot explain how a blade of grass can appear from that interaction of the powers of attraction and repulsion.
Bhakti Niskama Shanta
Thank you for presenting your detailed views. Since you mention our website, in order to further clarify what I am offering I include the following brief remarks.
The reflection of a whole in a mirror is just as whole as the original whole being reflected. There is an asymmetry because the reflected whole is dependent on the original whole for its existence and movement. Both are contained within a greater whole, let us call it the Absolute Whole, so that both are real, yet they have an asymmetrical relation of relative dependence and independence.
In the Vedas matter (jada) is considered inert, dull, representing ignorance or darkness. It cannot move itself without the help of soul (atma). Aristotle has explained in terms of the material and efficient aspects of cause how a clay pot may have a material aspect, clay, but the clay is not the efficient (agent) cause of the pot. The shadow or reflection metaphors are meant to express a similar idea.
Scientists do not know what the term "matter" means. The ancients did not have that problem. What goes on today in terms of 'scientific' thinking/knowing is considered wild goose chasing in Vedic epistemology. Veda means 'know' or 'knowledge.' The Sanskrit vid is the root of words like vision or wisdom. The epistemological process for knowing Veda is based on a humble and submissive approach, for Truth, being intelligent/sentient, reveals itself (or Him/Her Self) to those whom it chooses. That revelation is Veda. The One revealing Veda is explained in the Bhagavad-gita 15.15, as Krishna, Who says vedais ca sarvam aham eva vedo, vedanta krid veda vid eva caham - all the Vedas are meant to know Me, Who am the revealer and knower of the Vedas.
This theme can be found in many Vedic sources and their corollary literature. It is not an interpretation or speculation on my part. Such attitudes are denigrated by the Veda. It is by such attitudes that we find so many differing ideas offered on this list, and that results in the 60+ interpretations we have for quantum theory today.
What is not realized by modern scientists in general, is that faith lies at the basis of all knowledge. According to Veda it is sraddha, faith, that determines one's reality, and one's identity. Reason cannot be used to change or enlighten one at that level.
A change of heart is required, and an openness to the wisdom of Veda as taught by the agents of the Supreme, the great acharyas (teachers) who guide us by word and example. This is the process for acquiring knowledge given in the Veda. One may take up the processes of karma, jnana, or yoga, and try to perfect oneself in that way, but it may take many births and in the end the recommended process of properly approaching a realized soul will be required.
This is what I understand from my teachers, study, and practice. I do not expect anyone to blindly accept that. This forms the basis of what I am teaching according to logical and compassionate reasoning.
Humble and sincere regards,
B Madhava Puri
April 13, 2019
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Namaste. I really appreciate your message.
Realization of our relationship with the Supreme is the harmonizing principle within reality. The broad scientific knowledge of how to do that is found in the Veda. Modern science has seriously veered from that principle in so many ways. The necessity now is to steer science back toward that understanding. Those who are sincere in their search for truth will find it intrinsically happening of its own accord.
Jay patita pavana Sita Ram.
B Madhava Puri
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The problem may be much worse than you seem willing to believe. If we understand the metaphor of the blind men and the elephant, the wrong and conflicting observations of each of the individual blind men make agreement impossible, what to speak of synthesizing their immediate perceptions/interpretations with the organic whole, elephant.
Today many see modern science is in the midst of a revolutionary crisis or re-invention, if you prefer. Those who are on the forefront of such change see science differently than those who are content to accept the received view of the consensus knowledge. One thing that remains crucial once we are willing to look at it, is that the object of knowledge changes as our knowledge changes. This means that a synthesis of two disparate things/concepts/realities would be an oversimplification of the true dialectical/integral relation they bear to each other.
Progress or change certainly may involve much sacrifice if we hold on to what we have too dearly. iIt is the price we have to pay n order to allow the dynamic development we may come to understand as lying at the foundation of an organic whole of which we are part. The inner knowing and outer known are related. There is a unity in difference at play, a building up and a tearing down, a living and dynamic becoming rather than a dead static being that characterizes an organic reality.
II is revealing to trace the development of the modern concept of consciousness and the duelist conception at its foundation. It has been surmised that post-Aristotelian Stoic thought represents the original point of diremption from the unity of thought and being [knowledge and truth] held by Plato and Aristotle. The Skeptics furthered the division between thought and being, Descartes and Kant in the modern period made it an inseparable part of modern scientific epistemology.
It is important to understand how we got to where we are now through the study of t\he history of ideas in order to retrace our steps back to the conception of the unity in difference of the organic whole which they in their wisdom comprehended. In the process of reawakening we may remain respectful of differences if we retain the idea of development wherein different stages of that development may seem oppositional at first but on the whole are comprehended as merely processual moments of a dynamic unity.
B Madhava Puri
April 16, 2019