Evolution Intelligent Design Physics

Asked at Gizmodo: Does Earth’s Shifting Orbit Influence How Life Evolves?

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From Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo:

A team of researchers from the United States and New Zealand took a look at how likely species were to go extinct and how likely new species were to appear during a 60-million-year period, long before humans evolved. Upon analyzing fossil data, it seemed to them as if astronomical cycles led to climactic effects that ultimately aligned with new species of plankton appearing and going extinct on Earth.

“Our results… show that known processes related to the mechanics of the Solar System were shaping marine macroevolutionary rates comparatively early in the history of complex life,” the authors write in the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More.

It certainly seems like an idea worth pursuing because all life forms would be affected by significant changes in Earth’s orbit. But this is structuralism (evolution is not random but controlled by physics and chemistry).

See also: Biophysics is starting to matter in evolution Much that happens to embryos is not usefully seen as natural selection acting on random genetic mutation but as applied physics and chemistry. Yes, we are talking about structuralism, the much-maligned approach to evolution that sees it as critically dependent on physics and chemistry, not accidentally so (as in random evolution).

2 Replies to “Asked at Gizmodo: Does Earth’s Shifting Orbit Influence How Life Evolves?

  1. 1
    goodusername says:

    It certainly seems like an idea worth pursuing because all life forms would be affected by significant changes in Earth’s orbit. But this is structuralism (evolution is not random but controlled by physics and chemistry).

    I’m not sure what you think “structuralism” is, but the opposite of structuralism is certainly not “randomness”. The debate is usually framed as “structuralism” vs “adaptationism” (or “Formalism vs functionalism”)
    It’s more of a sliding scale than two separate camps though (no one is completely one or the other).

    Structuralists tend to lean more towards orthogenetic evolution (a straight-line, relatively constant evolution, driven primarily by internal rather than external influences).

    This study is claiming that they see new species occurring with changes in Earth’s orbit. Does that sound like a relatively constant rate of evolution? Does that sound like they are appearing due to “internal” causes? It sounds like the species are appearing as a result of something occurring externally. Isn’t the appearance of new species corresponding with changes in the environment precisely what an “adaptationist” would predict?

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    A shifting orbit. Surely that violates the laws of physics.

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