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JHJEFFERY's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by JHJEFFERY

Comment 68 by bm14582

Interesting comment, which revies a pet peave of mine.

A set of genes is constantly adapting its survival machine to be as perfectly suited as possible for whatever environment this machine might find itself in.

This problem of insight is created by that awful phrase, "Survival of the fittest." Darwinian natural selection is poorly described by that phrase. Your sentence above demonstrates the issue: genes do not adapt. You are looking at genes as if they were an active participant in the evolutionary process. They are not. They are completely passive. The correct phrase, I submit, although cumbersome, would be: "survival of those just barely able to survive." That is, where an organism acheives statis in its environment, evolution is finished with it. If the environment changes, those life forms which possess an altered genetic makeup may, or may not survive. If they do, they pass the altered gene to descedants.

Thus any life that survives is not "perfectly adapted survival machine," but the least developed changling that is able to survive. There is no intentionality in natural selection.

I don't want to get too deeply into epigenetics as the science on it is still unfolding. Suffice it to say that it obviously does exist, but there are questions as to whether the gene mutations survive more than a generation or two.

Otherwise their adaptations would be random and likely unsuccessful.

Every adaptation is likely unsuccessful. That's why 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. The chances of a successful gene mutation are probably millions to one, but when you have a couple of billion years to find the way, blindly, toward an organism that will survive.


Tue, 18 Dec 2012 18:41:58 UTC | #951295