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Criticism of Evolution From a Common Ancestor from an Economics Perspective

As a Christian, I am a Young Earth Creationist. Whiile some Christian's hold other positions allowing for an old Earth or Evolution from a common ancestor, I find that Young Earth Creationism best fits the intent of the relevant passages.

I do understand the principles of Evolution from a common ancestor (abbreviated Evolution for the rest of this post) and would be interested in learning more of the evidence for it. From my current understanding, however, it seems to be inconsistent with the economic theory of disruption. This is odd, because economists frequently make analogies to evolution and vice versa. In all other aspects, they seem to correlate rather well. If you have never heard of disruption, I recommend reading watching the video on my blog post: Free Market Approach to Health Care. As part of the hour plus video, Clayton Christensen explains the principles of disruption relevant to this blog post with several powerful examples.

In the current model of Evolution, the development of increasingly complex organisms seems to progress "steadily" relative to the entire history of Evolution. There are extinctions, and the organisms that take over as the dominant species are usually smaller and better able to survive in the environment, but their common ancestor with the extinct organisms is always relatively recent compared to the entire history of Evolution. Instead, we should expect that the simplest and most frequently reproducing organisms, such as bacteria and insects, would be the most active members of the Evolutionary tree, developing child species that eventually replace the higher order organisms that we know today. While Evolutionary apologists and transhumanists love to talk about seeing the next stage of Evolution from mankind, I claim that under disruption, that if Evolution were true, the next stage of it would come not from human beings, but from a simpler organism which eventually disrupts us.

In the video, the moves upmarket for steel were clearly defined already, moving from rebar to structural beams and sheet metal. In biology, which might be less clear, I would define it as better access to better resources. That means finding better shelter, developing more powerful defenses against competitors and predators, and getting access to better quality food. For food, that would mean moving from animals that have been dead for several hours to killing healthy small animals or killing sick larger ones. Eventually they move upmarket to killing larger, healthier animals and take their habitat.

Having discussed this with some friends, they came up with several objections. The first objection was that the less complex organisms are unable to replace more complex ones because the niches for more complex organisms are already being filled. This objection essentially implies that disruption does not apply to biology. However, if we observe "invasive" species, species that are accidentally moved from one region to another, they often perform phenominally well and become pests. This shows that there is plenty of ecological room for less complex organisms to evolve and fill new niches. In other words, it is not the more complex organisms that are keeping bacteria and insects from evolving.

The second objection was that they actually have disrupted the more complex organisms. They reasoned that bacteria and insects are everywhere already and don't need to increase in complexity. This objection misunderstands disruption however. In the video, when the disruptive companies saturate the market, they need to move upmarket or die. As I described earlier, they would do this by killing larger animals rather than relying on them to die first which artificially limits their food supply. Some insects like mosquitos do feed on larger animals, but they do so at great risk to themselves, are limited by temperature and habitat, and have plenty of predators. They have done very little to improve on that so I do not think that they have moved upmarket like I am describing. Mosquitos are not limited by food supply so much as other factors.

It is also possible that biologists have accounted for disruption in Evolution and that I have not noticed it. Or, perhaps they have left their genetic histories open enough that disruption can apply without proving them right or wrong. I am interested in discussion here.

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Tags: Bible, Creationism, Earth, Evolution, Young, disruption

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Comment by Bryan Rosander, FL on November 1, 2010 at 7:42pm
Do you agree that Evolution / biology share the issues of scarcity, competition, and decentralized action at least? I don't think that all of economic theory would apply to Evolution, especially our producer / consumer relationship.
Comment by Dodo CaucusRace on November 1, 2010 at 3:39am
All in all the main issue is that economics really has no merit in biology. While at times both may reference each other this is simply a product of our need to simplify rather complex ideas. Analogies are just that, analogies. As such there is no reason to assume any principle of economics will hold any weight in biology or vice versa. Biological systems are extremely complex as is the evolution of said systems. We are talking about evolution as if it fits into pretty boxes when in reality it's extremely complicated and variable. The attempt at applying this idea of disruption to a biological system is flawed at best.

There is no principle in biology which says an organism must constantly change or die, nor is there any principle that says an organism must dominate or perish. There are multiple forms of relationships in biology. Most tend toward equilibrium/symbiotic relationships. We coexist with multiple other species because we must and that includes bacteria. We rely on many forms of bacteria to survive just as they rely on us. Disruption is not a principle of biology. We can make all the quaint analogies we want but it will only result in more quaint analogies.
Comment by Bryan Rosander, FL on October 30, 2010 at 9:43am
Did you watch the video? Have you heard presentations on Disruption before? This is key to understanding my argument.

"Actually there is more than one model for Evolution. One model you may be interested in is called Punctuated Equilibrium(as opposed to phyletic gradualism). You can find more information online or in the book of the same name by Steven J Gould. Punctuated equilibrium is characterized by periods of stasis followed by rapid branching speciation."

Sorry to confuse you. I am aware of the basics of Punctuated Equilibrium and understand that most Evolutionists do not believe that evolutionary complexity increases at a constant rate, but frequently plateaus and later advances rapidly. The same phenomenon happens in GAs.

"The main issue bacterium have and why they are constantly playing catch-up is due to the fact they don't reproduce sexually but asexually. This is specifically called binary fission because the parent and daughter bacteria are genetically identical with the exception of a few copy errors. These few copy errors are called mutations and they allow bacteria to evolve, however it is much slower than sexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction does not result in as many children but allows for greater variation in the species as the child receives a unique combination of DNA from the mother and father and has its own mutations making the fight for bacteria much harder."

This is actually a great example of how disruption has not worked in Evolution. In economic systems, it is precisely advantages like sexual reproduction which prevent them from evolving even better, more efficient means of evolution.

"No one can predict how we will evolve as we do not know the factors that will cause us to. I have already addressed why it is difficult for bacteria to win out."

Part of the model of disruption are a series of methods for predicting how and when an economic system will fail or run out of money. An economic system is a set of companies (and sometimes customers) which are necessary for each other's business. An example would be all of the contractors required for a building project in the construction industry. Their methods of doing business, of bidding, of working, and so on, are tied together and a revolutionary disruption of the construction industry would probably need to work with different companies because their way of doing business is tied to the old system.

Meanwhile, very few of the companies at the top of their field from 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago are still at the top of their field today. Some parts of the business model of their replacements are predictable, such as the movement from customized solutions to using knowledge bases and automatic processing.

Anyway, my point wasn't about specific bacteria or even bacteria as a whole. Not every disruptive company succeeds. The point is that the incumbent companies species will eventually be disrupted, die out, and be replaced. The disruptors will be species or groups of species with the properties I stated and there will be a process where the lower level species will be disrupted before the top ones.
Comment by Dodo CaucusRace on October 26, 2010 at 2:21pm
"In the current model of Evolution, the development of increasingly complex organisms seems to progress "steadily" relative to the entire history of Evolution. "
Actually there is more than one model for Evolution. One model you may be interested in is called Punctuated Equilibrium(as opposed to phyletic gradualism). You can find more information online or in the book of the same name by Steven J Gould. Punctuated equilibrium is characterized by periods of stasis followed by rapid branching speciation.
"dominant species are usually smaller and better able to survive in the environment"
size is only relevant if it was a major contributor that survival. In some cases a larger species may be better fit for survival, that all depends on the circumstances.
"we should expect that the simplest and most frequently reproducing organisms, such as bacteria and insects, would be the most active members of the Evolutionary tree"
The main issue bacterium have and why they are constantly playing catch-up is due to the fact they don't reproduce sexually but asexually. This is specifically called binary fission because the parent and daughter bacteria are genetically identical with the exception of a few copy errors. These few copy errors are called mutations and they allow bacteria to evolve, however it is much slower than sexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction does not result in as many children but allows for greater variation in the species as the child receives a unique combination of DNA from the mother and father and has its own mutations making the fight for bacteria much harder.
" if Evolution were true, the next stage of it would come not from human beings, but from a simpler organism which eventually disrupts us."
No one can predict how we will evolve as we do not know the factors that will cause us to. I have already addressed why it is difficult for bacteria to win out.
The first objection was that the less complex organisms are unable to replace more complex ones because the niches for more complex organisms are already being filled.
Your friends are wrong. More complex species evolved from the less complex species due to a pressure to evolve. We aren't seeing it like we did because we are in a period of stasis. With no crisis for the lesser organisms causing pressure to change there is no change.
It is also possible that biologists have accounted for disruption in Evolution and that I have not noticed it.
Yep, Punctuated equilibrium

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