Ashwin: is evolution guided or unguided?

So, if someone modifies a human embryo in Situ in order to make it stronger, faster or immune to the HIV virus…
Would that also be “evolution” ?

That would be evolution in terms of common descent, but by an observed mechanism of human engineering.

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Would @sfmatheson and @John_Harshman alsonagree?

Technically, it would be mutation, not evolution. Evolution happens to populations. Now, if the modification spread through the population, that would be evolution.


That’s a conclusion based on mountains of evidence. The point of science is to incorporate these observations into the theory. There are no observations or evidence that supports guided mutations. If evolution is guided then it is statistically indistinguishable from unguided mutations.


No. Neither would it be “evolution” if that modification happened naturally. Evolution requires heritable change over time.

Do you think it would be better to discuss “evolution” after you have taken more steps to understand the meaning of the theory? This isn’t a real conversation as long as you make statements that are so far from accurate.

Ok fair enough.
Atleast, that’s a consistent view.

Assume, it is a heritable change which is established in a population over time.

Then it’s evolution. Evolutionary theory is uninterested in whether a mutation was finagled by a human or a time traveling extraterrestrial or a burst of error-prone DNA replication or a supernatural tinkerer. It’s not relevant to the theory. It never was. It never will be.

If I were you, I would ask myself how I came to be so misinformed about evolution. Once I knew who it was who misled me, I would avoid them in the future.


That’s fair enough.

How would you react to the below statement from Jerry Coyne?

The incompatibility between religious claims and scientific truths is most evident when it comes to evolution. As I noted above, not only do 40% of Americans hold the profoundly antiscientific view that humans were created within the last 10,000 years in their present form, but an additional 38% favor a form of human evolution guided by God. That is also unscientific because biologists see humans, like every other species, as having evolved by purely natural processes. There is a reason, after all, why Darwin’s greatest idea was called natural selection. Those who wish to harmonize science and faith tend to sweep this problem under the rug, but the fact remains that 78% of Americans disagree with the scientific view of evolution.

He is also an evolutionary biologist and i assume he understands evolution. He claims that scientist who wish to harmonise Science and faith are “sweeping facts under the rug”

There seems to be a genuine disconnect between your claim and his.
In such a scenario, would it be fair to say that Dr Coyne is making such statements out of ignorance and can be safely ignored?
I find it hard to believe that he is talking out of ignorance.

You have simply not understood anything I wrote if you think that Coyne is even talking about what I wrote. I can’t respond anymore to you unless you can commit to trying to understand my words. This is your responsibility, and you need to now demonstrate that you will take responsibility for reading with the intent to understand. So far I cannot trust you to do that.

Back when I was a Christian (my teenage years), I had no difficulty harmonizing science and faith. When I later quit from religion, that was not because of any conflict with science.

However – and this is the important point – I could only ever harmonize science with my faith. I could not harmonize it for anybody else. Faith is very personal. People who want to harmonize science with their faith must do it for themselves.


Common ancestry has always been the most important part of evolution to me. Thats what helps makes sense of so many observations across multiple disciplines. Not whether it occurred guided or unguided. Want to make sense of the evolution of human behavior? Let’s look at other primates. UCA is the hill I’m willing to die on. Not on how it occurred.

Evolution is guided or unguided in exactly the same sense respiration, reproduction, ecology, and homeostasis are guided or unguided. Evolution is just biology over an extended term.


I read what you wrote.
I can’t read your mind. You need to be clear in what you say if you hope to be understood correctly.

I dont see how what you wrote matches with what Jerry Coyne wrote.
And if you want to hide behind claims that I dont understand evolution… that looks like doublespeak.

I wrote about whether guidance or intervention has anything to do with evolutionary theory. Coyne wrote about religion.

Good bye.

This is not true. I am putting his quote below.
Jerry coyne categorically says that evolution (specifically human evolution) guided by God is an unscientific view. He categories those who believe in guided evolution as being in disagreement with the scientific theory of evolution.

You wrote that guidance has nothing to do with the theory of evolution and If I understood you correctly, you imply that believing that God guided evolution is not in disagreement or contradiction with the theory (because the theory doesnt support or rule out such an option).

What you say is very different from what Dr coyne writes.
Getting upset doesnt really solve the issue. I can understand if you disagree with Jerry coyne. However denying a difference between the two positions is not honest imo.

Accusing me of not trying to understand what you say is unfair.
I am giving Dr coynes quote again for your reference.

Maybe Coyne is wrong here @Ashwin_s. Why not consider that possibility?

I am considering that possibility.
That’s why I am making sure that there is a difference between what @sfmatheson is saying and what Dr Coyne is saying.
However, I am being told that I have not understood what he said. And it seems from his reply, that there is nothing incorrect or different in what Dr Coyne is saying.

This leaves me baffled.

Frankly, I wonder if all these nuances about guided evolution are limited to sites such as biologos and peaceful science.
I am trying to find out which view is mainstream.

Which view is mainstream? Most scientists just don’t care. These aren’t questions science is concerned with and I cant imagine that would change anytime soon.