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Evolution by Success Not by Design

Creationists often mention 'Intelligent design' as if life evolved on Earth by following a planned design. There is no design.

Its definition:
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
This ignores the observation that all life on this planet is adaptive simply because the success (or failure) of the parents  is always passed to their offspring. Any initial 'design' is subject to change within its first or second generation of offspring.

This fact of nature should be obvious to anyone who observes all the life on this planet but only some had their generations managed by people.
Successive generations of fruits and vegetables are managed where desirable physical characteristics such as taste or color are passed down to the next generation while a generation with undesirable traits is not used for another generation.
There is only species of a domestic cat but now humanity has a variety to choose from. There is only one species of a domestic dog.

As of 2016, The International Cat Association (TICA) recognizes 58 standardized breeds.
There are about 493 different breeds of dogs recognized by different kennel clubs worldwide.

Nature does the same with its evolution by success. Each generation that successfuly adapts to its environment passes on that success to its offspring.

'Intelligent design' assumes nature cannot achieve success without outside interference, for this 'design.'

Conifers are one example.
The Pinophyta, also known as Coniferophyta or Coniferae, or commonly as conifers, are a division of vascular land plants containing a single extant class, Pinopsida. They are gymnosperms, cone-bearing seed plants. All extant conifers are perennial woody plants with secondary growth. The great majority are trees, though a few are shrubs. Examples include cedars, Douglas firs, cypresses, firs, junipers, kauri, larches, pines, hemlocks, redwoods, spruces, and yews. As of 1998, the division Pinophyta was estimated to contain eight families, 68 genera, and 629 living species.

Although the total number of species is relatively small, conifers are ecologically important. They are the dominant plants over large areas of land, most notably the taiga of the Northern Hemisphere, but also in similar cool climates in mountains further south. Boreal conifers have many wintertime adaptations. The narrow conical shape of northern conifers, and their downward-drooping limbs, help them shed snow. Many of them seasonally alter their biochemistry to make them more resistant to freezing. While tropical rainforests have more biodiversity and turnover, the immense conifer forests of the world represent the largest terrestrial carbon sink.
These trees have successfully evolved through success to dominate the northerrn hemisphere even surviving through multiple global catastrophes like ice ages, volcanic eruptions, and meteors. Those species that could not adapt through those conditions did not survive.

Tropical rain forests are another example.

Tropical rainforests exhibit high levels of biodiversity. Around 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests.Rainforests are home to half of all the living animal and plant species on the planet. Two-thirds of all flowering plants can be found in rainforests. A single hectare of rainforest may contain 42,000 different species of insect, up to 807 trees of 313 species and 1,500 species of higher plants.
This wonderful proliferation results from each generation passing its success to the next.

Did nature have an earlier time with less diversity?

Trilobytes are one example.

Trilobites are a group of extinct marine arachnomorph arthropods that form the class Trilobita. Trilobites form one of the earliest-known groups of arthropods. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period (521 million years ago), and they flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era before beginning a drawn-out decline to extinction when, during the Devonian, all trilobite orders except the Proetids died out. Trilobites disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 252 million years ago. The trilobites were among the most successful of all early animals, existing in oceans for over 300 million years.

By the time trilobites first appeared in the fossil record, they were already highly diversified and geographically dispersed. Because trilobites had wide diversity and an easily fossilized exoskeleton, they left an extensive fossil record, with some 50,000 known species spanning Paleozoic time. The study of these fossils has facilitated important contributions to biostratigraphy, paleontology, evolutionary biology, and plate tectonics.

Trilobites had many lifestyles; some moved over the sea bed as predators, scavengers, or filter feeders, and some swam, feeding on plankton. Most lifestyles expected of modern marine arthropods are seen in trilobites, with the possible exception of parasitism (where scientific debate continues). Some trilobites (particularly the family Olenidae) are even thought to have evolved a symbiotic relationship with sulfur-eating bacteria from which they derived food.

It took major global geological changes to bring in an environment these animals could not successfully adapt to.

Plankton are another example of successful adaptation for a very long time.

Plankton are the diverse collection of organisms that live in large bodies of water and are unable to swim against a current. The individual organisms constituting plankton are called plankters. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as fish and whales.

These organisms include bacteria, archaea, algae, protozoa and drifting or floating animals.

Plankton inhabit oceans, seas, lakes, ponds. Local abundance varies horizontally, vertically and seasonally. The primary cause of this variability is the availability of light. All plankton ecosystems are driven by the input of solar energy (chemosynthesis), confining primary production to surface waters, and to geographical regions and seasons having abundant light.

A secondary variable is nutrient availability. Although large areas of the tropical and sub-tropical oceans have abundant light, they experience relatively low primary production because they offer limited nutrients such as nitrate, phosphate and silicate. This results from large-scale ocean circulation and water column stratification. In such regions, primary production usually occurs at greater depth, although at a reduced level (because of reduced light).

Plankton have survived a very long time, since the Cambrian period.

The Cambrian period (542-588 million years ago) marked the worldwide spread of the earliest plankton, as well as trilobites, worms, tiny mollusks, and small, shelled protozoans. In fact, the abundance of these organisms is what made the lifestyle of Anomalocaris and its ilk possible; in the way of food chains throughout history, these larger invertebrates spent all their time feasting on the smaller invertebrates in their immediate vicinity.

Though many planktonic species are microscopic in size, plankton includes organisms over a wide range of sizes, including large organisms such as jellyfish.
Sometimes 'intelligent design' is presented as their alternative to 'survival of the fittest' or 'natural selection.'

Survival of the fittest:
"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. The biological concept of fitness is defined as reproductive success. In Darwinian terms the phrase is best understood as "Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations."

I disagree with this interpretation in the 19th century.
Evolution is definitely not marked by 'the most copies' but is rather marked by the survival of the form that is the most successful at adapting to its changing environment.

Natural Selection:
Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations.

I agree with that simple description.

A person claiming nature shows an intelligent design sees the same diversity in life on this planet as I do.

They see each life form as being designed for its environment.

I see each as being the result of successful adaptations over many generations.

Not only is each individual plant and animal on its unique path of adapting to its particular environment, each is also passing its success to its offspring.

All life on this planet is continuing to adapt.

For someone to claim that in one particular instant life is seen to have an intelligent design, requires that person must ignore that very diversity that seems to have a design in his or her eyes.

This claim of intelligent design shows that person is ignoring what should be obvious in nature's chaos and complexity.
This claim will find a receptive audience among those taught what to believe, not taught how to reason.

created - May 2019
last change - 05/09/2019
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