Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Balance of nature as comforting?


Claim here.

Through the 18th century, the balance of nature was probably primarily a comforting construct–it would protect us; it represented some sort of benign governance in the face of occasional awful events. When Darwin replaced God as the determinant of the balance with natural selection, the comfort of a balance of nature was not so overarching, if there was any comfort at all. – Simberloff D (2014) The “Balance of Nature”–Evolution of a Panchreston. PLoS Biology 12(10): e1001963. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001963

Here’s the abstract:

The earliest concept of a balance of nature in Western thought saw it as being provided by gods but requiring human aid or encouragement for its maintenance. With the rise of Greek natural philosophy, emphasis shifted to traits gods endowed species with at the outset, rather than human actions, as key to maintaining the balance. The dominance of a constantly intervening God in the Middle Ages lessened interest in the inherent features of nature that would contribute to balance, but the Reformation led to renewed focus on such features, particularly traits of species that would maintain all of them but permit none to dominate nature. Darwin conceived of nature in balance, and his emphasis on competition and frequent tales of felicitous species interactions supported the idea of a balance of nature. But Darwin radically changed its underlying basis, from God to natural selection. Wallace was perhaps the first to challenge the very notion of a balance of nature as an undefined entity whose accuracy could not be tested. His skepticism was taken up again in the 20th century, culminating in a widespread rejection of the idea of a balance of nature by academic ecologists, who focus rather on a dynamic, often chaotic nature buffeted by constant disturbances. The balance-of-nature metaphor, however, lives on in large segments of the public, representing a fragile aspect of nature and biodiversity that it is our duty to protect.

Like we said earlier: The human race is the only species that environmentalists do not have any duty to protect. And we actually only have about seven billion members. that’s nothing in many life form groups.

Something to think about, before you write at cheque to them.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Moreover, the earth is far more tolerant of us Humans, and of our environmental mishaps, than many radical environmentalists would believe,,,
Mighty oil-eating microbes help clean up the Gulf - July 2010 Excerpt: Where is all the oil? Nearly two weeks after BP finally capped the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, the oil slicks that once spread across thousands of miles of the Gulf of Mexico have largely disappeared. Nor has much oil washed up on the sandy beaches and marshes along the Louisiana coast.,,, The lesson from past spills is that the lion’s share of the cleanup work is done by nature in the form of oil-eating bacteria and fungi. (Thank God) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews_excl/ynews_excl_sc3270 Deepwater Oil Plume in Gulf Degraded by Microbes, Study Shows Excerpt: An intensive study by scientists with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found that microbial activity degrades oil much faster than anticipated. This degradation appears to take place without a significant level of oxygen depletion. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100824132349.htm Methane Gas Concentrations in Gulf of Mexico Quickly Returned to Near-Normal Levels, Surprising Researchers - January 2011 Excerpt: Calling the results "extremely surprising", researchers report that methane gas concentrations in the Gulf of Mexico have returned to near normal levels only months after a massive release occurred following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110106145436.htm Microbes Consumed Oil in Gulf Slick at Unexpected Rates, Study Finds - August 2011 Excerpt: "Our study shows that the dynamic microbial community of the Gulf of Mexico supported remarkable rates of oil respiration, despite a dearth of dissolved nutrients," the researchers said. Edwards added that the results suggest "that microbes had the metabolic potential to break down a large portion of hydrocarbons and keep up with the flow rate from the wellhead." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801111752.htm At Least 200,000 Tons of Oil and Gas from Deepwater Horizon Spill Consumed by Gulf Bacteria - Sept. 11, 2012 Excerpt: Researchers from the University of Rochester and Texas A&M University have found that, over a period of five months following the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, naturally-occurring bacteria that exist in the Gulf of Mexico consumed and removed at least 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas that spewed into the deep Gulf from the ruptured well head. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125315.htm
In fact, humans ‘getting in the way’ to try to help clean up the oil spill only made the situation worse:
Gulf of Mexico Clean-Up Makes 2010 Spill 52-Times More Toxic; Mixing Oil With Dispersant Increased Toxicity to Ecosystems - (Nov. 30, 2012) Excerpt: If the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill was a ecological disaster, the two million gallons of dispersant used to clean it up apparently made it even worse -- 52-times more toxic.,,, The study found that mixing the dispersant with oil increased toxicity of the mixture up to 52-fold over the oil alone. In toxicity tests in the lab, the mixture's effects increased mortality of rotifers, a microscopic grazing animal at the base of the Gulf's food web.,,, "Perhaps we should allow the oil to naturally disperse. It might take longer, but it would have less toxic impact on marine ecosystems." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130110518.htm
Apparently, other than man cleaning up animals covered with oil, and making minor clean up efforts on shore lines, that man only gets in God's way as to helping 'nature' restore the ecosystem to its pristine state following a major oil spill by dumping man-made dispersants into the ocean to try to break up the oil. Moral of the story? God has made provisions for man to inhabit this earth, including our mistakes. ,,, Which reminds me of God's number one provision for our mistakes,,,
John 1:29 On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world! Shroud Of Turin - 3 Dimensional Hologram Reveals Words ‘The Lamb’ - video https://vimeo.com/97156784 Take Me In - Kutless - Music Video https://vimeo.com/108109389
Actually, as was pointed out the other day, the Copernican principle which held that the Earth nor man was of any special significance in the universe, was overturned,,,
The overturning of the Copernican principle https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/neuroscience/a-princeton-prof-attempts-to-explain-consciousness-hush-we-may-be-hearing-answers-now/#comment-519603 and here https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/neuroscience/a-princeton-prof-attempts-to-explain-consciousness-hush-we-may-be-hearing-answers-now/#comment-519628
Of special note, the documentary ‘Privileged Species – How the cosmos is designed for human life’ is soon to be released:
Privileged Species – How the cosmos is designed for human life – website http://privilegedspecies.com/
As to the abstract in the OP, I would like to draw attention to a non sequitur,,,
",,,Darwin conceived of nature in balance, and his emphasis on competition,,,"
In what should be needless to say, competition is anatagonistic towards the notion of balance. And indeed, as these following studies highlight, Darwinists are many times completely mystified that there should be so much cooperation and 'balance' of life on earth and so little direct competition between it,,
Doubting Darwin: Algae Findings Surprise Scientists - April 28, 2014 Excerpt: One of Charles Darwin's hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true. Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin's theory — at least in one case. "It was completely unexpected," says Bradley Cardinale, associate professor in the University of Michigan's school of natural resources & environment. "When we saw the results, we said 'this can't be."' We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin's hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?" The researchers ,,,— were so uncomfortable with their results that they spent the next several months trying to disprove their own work. But the research held up.,,, The scientists did not set out to disprove Darwin, but, in fact, to learn more about the genetic and ecological uniqueness of fresh water green algae so they could provide conservationists with useful data for decision-making. "We went into it assuming Darwin to be right, and expecting to come up with some real numbers for conservationists," Cardinale says. "When we started coming up with numbers that showed he wasn't right, we were completely baffled.",,, Darwin "was obsessed with competition," Cardinale says. "He assumed the whole world was composed of species competing with each other, but we found that one-third of the species of algae we studied actually like each other. They don't grow as well unless you put them with another species. It may be that nature has a heck of a lot more mutualisms than we ever expected. "Maybe species are co-evolving," he adds. "Maybe they are evolving together so they are more productive as a team than they are individually. We found that more than one-third of the time, that they like to be together. Maybe Darwin's presumption that the world may be dominated by competition is wrong." http://www.livescience.com/45205-data-dont-back-up-darwin-in-algae-study-nsf-bts.html Ocean's most abundant organisms have clear daily cycles - July 10, 2014 Excerpt: Imagine the open ocean as a microbial megacity, teeming with life too small to be seen. In every drop of water, hundreds of types of bacteria can be found. Now scientists have discovered that communities of these ocean microbes have their own daily cycles -- not unlike the residents of a bustling city who tend to wake up, commute, work, and eat at the same times.,,, "I like to say they are singing in harmony," said Edward F. DeLong, professor of Oceanography at University of Hawaii,,, What scientists saw was intriguing: different species of bacteria expressing different types of genes in different, but consistent, cycles -- turning on, for example, the type of restorative genes needed to rebuild their solar-collecting powers at night, then ramping up with different gene activity to build new proteins during the day. "The regularity and timing of individual microbial activities is somewhat like a new shift of hourly workers punching in and out of the clock, day after day," DeLong said.,,, "There are some fundamental laws to be learned about how organisms interact, to make the system work better as a whole and be more efficient," DeLong said. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710141539.htm Darwin 'Wrong': Species Living Together Does Not Encourage Evolution - December 20, 2013 Excerpt: Charles Darwin's theory of evolution set out in the Origin of Species has been proven wrong by scientists studying ovenbirds. Researchers at Oxford University found that species living together do not evolve differently to avoid competing with one another for food and habitats – a theory put forward by Darwin 150 years ago. The ovenbird is one of the most diverse bird families in the world and researchers were looking to establish the processes causing them to evolve. Published in Nature, the research compared the beaks, legs and songs of 90% of ovenbird species. Findings showed that while the birds living together were consistently more different than those living apart, this was the result of age differences. Once the variation of age was accounted for, birds that live together were more similar than those living separately – directly contradicting Darwin's view. The species that lived together had beaks and legs no more different than those living apart,,, ,,,there is no shortage of evidence for competition driving divergent evolution in some very young lineages. But we found no evidence that this process explains differences across a much larger sample of species.,,, He said that the reasons why birds living together appear to evolve less are "difficult to explain",,, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/darwin-wrong-species-living-together-does-not-encourage-evolution-1429927
As well, this unresolved tension between cooperation and competition is also reflected in this following comment to Richard Dawkins,,,
Richard Dawkins interview with a 'Darwinian' physician goes off track - video Excerpt: "I am amazed, Richard, that what we call metazoans, multi-celled organisms, have actually been able to evolve, and the reason [for amazement] is that bacteria and viruses replicate so quickly -- a few hours sometimes, they can reproduce themselves -- that they can evolve very, very quickly. And we're stuck with twenty years at least between generations. How is it that we resist infection when they can evolve so quickly to find ways around our defenses?" http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/07/video_to_dawkin062031.html
In other words, if evolution were actually the truth about how all life came to be on Earth then the only 'life' that would be around would be extremely small organisms with the highest replication rate, and with the most mutational firepower, since only they would be the fittest to survive in the dog eat dog world of 'competition' where blind pitiless evolution rules and only the 'fittest' are allowed to survive. i.e. Since successful reproduction is all that really matters on a neo-Darwinian view of things, how can anything but successful reproduction be realistically 'selected' for? Any other function besides reproduction, such as sight, hearing, thinking, etc.., would be highly superfluous to the primary criteria of successfully reproducing, and should, on a Darwinian view, be discarded as so much excess baggage since it would, sooner or later, slow down successful reproduction. But , instead of eating us, time after time we find these different types of microbial life are found to be helping us in essential ways that have nothing to do with their ability to successfully reproduce,,,
NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body – June 13, 2012 Excerpt: Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2012/nhgri-13.htm We are living in a bacterial world, and it's impacting us more than previously thought - February 15, 2013 Excerpt: We often associate bacteria with disease-causing "germs" or pathogens, and bacteria are responsible for many diseases, such as tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and MRSA infections. But bacteria do many good things, too, and the recent research underlines the fact that animal life would not be the same without them.,,, I am,, convinced that the number of beneficial microbes, even very necessary microbes, is much, much greater than the number of pathogens." http://phys.org/news/2013-02-bacterial-world-impacting-previously-thought.html#ajTabs

Leave a Reply