Monday, January 23, 2006

What Are We Calling Darwinian Evolution?

One of the things that either hasn't been defined or I completely missed out on is key to the entire discussion we've had here on Intelligent Design Theory (ID), and that thing is a description of what we are calling Darwinian Evolution. We seem to be going around in circles and this lack of a description - along with our overall laymen's knowledge on the topics - has something to do with the repetitive and frustrating nature of the discussion.

I am not a biologist. I would never pretend to be one. So, if what I have to say is different than the commonly used definition of Darwinian Evolution, then forgive me. But, this is my understanding of what people mean when the talk about evolution and our origins.
Darwinian Evolution is the process by which all organisms on Earth over long periods of time came to be as we currently observe them. The mechanism of this formation is something called "Natural Selection," or "Survival of the Fittest," wherein the organisms with the most adept set of charicteristics - either physical, or as in our case, mental - for competing for raw materials necessary for survival will survive and those organisms that are unable to compete for these materials become extinct. In other words, if you can't get what you need to survive before another organism does, your DNA is eliminated from the gene pool.

Other aspects of evolution that I have heard of are "micro-evolution," or changes found within a species that make that species better able to adapt to its surroundings, and "macro-evolution," changes that occur within a species that lead to that species becoming a new species. To my uderstanding, "micro-evolution" is a fact that few will challenge. Its examples are found in the classic biology text-book examples of short necked vs. long necked giraffes or even the attempts of dog breeders in "designing" desired attributes into their litters. "Macro-evolution," it seems, is where the controversy lies - at least for some. Here we're talking about dinosaurs evolving into birds, "monkeys" of one sort eventually evolving into gorillias, chimps, and humans.

Chance is another controversial element of Darwinian Evolution, and to my knowledge, a key component of evolutionary theory. There is no purpose or design behind evolution. Evolution is a blind and mindless force. We are but a collection of random changes occuring over billions of years that make us able to survive in our biosphere called Earth, as it were.

Can we agree with this? Is there anything my teaching-second-grade-to-third-graders-who-shold-be-in-fourth-grade mind should have added? (Undoubtedly there are volumes left out!)I hope that this is useful and leads to some sort of common ground.