The characteristics of human evolution through consciousness

28 Aug

There is a lot of debate between atheists and theists on whether evolution of organism occurs and if so by what means. Evolution does occur and has been doing since life first began on Earth 3.5 billion years ago but it takes place within an environment of a three-fold (sattva, rajas and tamas) consciousness regulating the process. This means that there are natural forces within consciousness that regulate the behaviour of organisms and affect their lives including reproductive behaviour. These alter the evolutionary pathways through which organisms are propagated through history and which has led to the present diversity observed in nature as well as in the organisms of the past that have become extinct.

The consciousness mechanism is an act of God that is not well studied but is understood to have sattva, rajas and tamas characteristics as discussed in Hinduism. These broadly reflect the triad forces of divine, semi-divine and evil components that act upon organisms to regulate their behaviour. The three-fold creation also incorporates qualities of creating, preserving and destroying respectively and is how Hindus know God to be represented as the Trimurti in Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Shiva (Destroyer). Additionally, Shiva is associated with procreation, that is regulating the reproductive behaviour of organisms. The arena of existence is like a equilateral triangle of consciousness, with one corner (Brahma) generating the sattva guna, another corner (Vishnu) generating the rajas guna and the third corner (Shiva) generating the tamas guna. There is no apex to the symmetrical three faces of guna consciousness. This threefold guna is the also reason that the symbol Om in Hinduism is symbolised with the No 3 extended to incorporate the worship of God’s creation of Nature. God Sri Krishna surrounds and permeates the gunas so can influence the behaviour of organisms.

All organisms live by one or the other guna or a mixture of the three gunas (property/energy/force of nature) that is derived from this consciousness and therefore they exist somewhere within the arena of consciousness. The closer they are to their corner of the triangle of consciousness the more of that attribute they will acquire. In this way they evolve over historical time according to their consciousness during their time of existence. In higher animals these gunas manifest themselves through thoughts that make animals act in particular manners according to the nature of the gunas.

The gunas are therefore natural forces of consciousness that act upon organisms. If an organism has the biological make up and upbringing (nature and nurture) to be influenced by a particular mix of these consciousness gunas it will act in that way in its life. Tamas is basic animalistic living that is haphazard existence with no sense of duties and direction; rajas is living to a meaningful life in the material world as a karma yogi doing things to satisfy one’s five senses; and sattva is the highest level of mental attainment that resuls in a life that is serene with blissful truth as a gyan yogi which combines the elements of karma yoga and dharma yoga. At the peak of sattva exisitence there is hardly any tamas guna existing and vice versa. In humans the person can move around within the triangle of gunas, that is he can ‘transcend’ from tamas living to a rajas living or even a sattva living by effort and education or for that matter move towards the other gunas depending on the adverse influences that takes place in his life.

Very few people are born who are at sattva guna corner of the sattva, rajas and tamas triangle. Those who are will always attain work of the highest quality and will not engage in work that does damage to the environment that sustains mankind. Those at the rajas guna corner will do work without due consideration of what is good or bad and may generate lots of goods and services some of which people may want. Those at the tamas corner are good for nothing. In reality a lot of people will be somewhere in the middle of the triangle and have all three gunas to varying degrees.

It is incorrect to think of the three gunas as representing the body, mind and heart in that body is tamas, mind is rajas and heart is sattva and the three have to be transcended if one has to rise higher, those higher levels being Chit Kosha and Sat Kosha, the higher levels of attainment. By heart is meant the character of the person. The gunas do not directly represent these aspects of the jiva/human’s being. The mind alone has either one or the other of the three gunas or a combination. Mind is where the brain links up with consciousness. The mind alone has the heart which could be either sattavic, rajasic or tamasic. The rest of the body is affected by the state of this mind as to where it lies in the guna-consciousness triangle. Sattva is the creative force because it is based on truth, knowledge and reality while tamas is inertia, and rajas does the mundane preservation work. For example, the body operates according to the nutrition it receives, and from any direction to do things that is received from the mind. Thus the mind chooses what food is eaten which will direct the functionality of the body whether in a good way or a way that will lead to disease. The body does not decide anything to become tamasic or rajasic or sattvic. It is the mind that is sattvic, rajasic or tamasic according to its character – which equivalent to the heart. Divinity does not reside in every heart, only in the sattvic heart and to a limited extent in the rajasic heart which is more governed by the five senses in a reactionary manner. The tamasic heart is evil and causes the mind to do all the horrible things that people do in this world, including lying and deceiving, murdering and molesting.Only the sattvic heart is purely divine because it relates to truth consciousness. There is no distinction between the heart and the soul both of which determine the character of the person. The mind is where the heart and guna-consciousness meet and decide the actions of the person.

Guna transcendence
Since the consciousness triangle is surrounded and permeated by God Sri Krishna the organism can interact for specific bits of information that the divine heart needs to survive in this world with the madness of the rajasic and tamasic-generated problems. This only happens when the person gives himself to God which is the mechanism for transcending the gunas. God as Sri Krishna can come through to people but this practically only happens when the person is living at the sattva guna apex of existence because tamasic and rajasic persons cannot realise God let alone live in faith of God and in submission to God. When it does Sri Krishna can make the person do particular things in their lives that will help them survive with dignity. People at all planes of existence may realise the existence of God but only those towards the corner of the sattva plane of living will live in devotion and submission to the will of God and will benefit from correspondence with Sri Krishna. When he does and lives in submission to Sri Krishna the transcendence is complete. When this happens the person lives from perceived instructions and guidance from God. Since tamasic and rajasic people cannot realise God in this way, the sattva corner of the triangle is in fact the point where the interaction with God takes place. People with all three guna characteristics may believe in a superior power that they call God, but their worship practices would be classified as Brahmanism, Vaishnavism or Shaivism for the sattvic, rajasic and tamasic gunas respectively and there will be overlaps for people who fall in between these positions in the guna trimurti.

There is therefore something higher than the sattva plane of living, which in humans is attained through satya-advaita or truth accommodation, the transcendence to the submission to God in devotion being that higher plane of living. In this mode of living the gunas are entirely transcended and we humans live spiritual lives and merely exist in the material plane with detachment to all ones points of interactions just fulfilling our sattvic duties as dharma to survive for as long as God decides. At the heights of sattva living the person produces divine creative work that pleases God Sri Krishna and which he will assist in through revelations of what is appropriate to do. In this way He descends through the consciousness mechanism to assist the process of total transcendence in which Chit Kosha and Sat Kosha are part of the sattvic existence of experiencing reality. Thus Sri Krishna as Supreme God resides above the guna-consciousness and as the transcendent reality, and the person is totally at one with Sri Krishna with whom he can communicate. This is above the peak of sattva existence and at the apex of human existence. He knows that he continues to live life by just going through the motions for the ultimate Being is God Sri Krishna who can affect ones life and hence the direction of evolution of all organisms living at all combinations of guna mix by altering their behaviour and their biology through the consciousness mechanism and altering inanimate objects also if He chooses to do so.

The phase of total transcendence of gunas in submission to the wishes of God will be permanent but it has advaitic and satya-advaitic aspects (http://satyaadvaita.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/advaita-and-satya-advaita-in-brahmanism/). This is because God is disinterested in any individual attaining advaitic communion but determines His blessings and protection of the individual through divine protection by judging how the person relates to his fellow human beings in his or her pursuit of truth-based dharma (duties and righteous actions). Further, God is disinterested in allowing anyone to live to apparent total permanent submission to Him. God will not protect such individuals even if He may allow some to gain the irreversible realisation that He is there all powerful and good. Any person who assumes that God will always be there for him or her advising him or her on what to do in life is deluding himself or herself. God is God, we are human beings and we need to live human lives knowing that the life that He favours with divine blessings is the sattvic mode of existence. Exceptionally, for those who have transcended and remain in that mode God does do things for them in an intricate way: they are avatars who God has usurped for His own purposes.

Meditation
A human being cannot be free from the gunas by meditation, no matter what level of meditation is undertaken. The only way to transcend the gunas is to submit oneself to God Sri Krishna and live life in devotion according to his judgements on what actions to take on various decisions of life. Brahman is an imaginary Being in the minds of those who are atheistic. A person can migrate between the gunas. When a person reaches the apex of the sattva guna and stays there persistently, the Almighty God Sri Krishna will make Himself known to the person. Thus, the focus on meditation is wrong teaching. The correct teaching is to do yoga in which you start with bhakti yoga, and move to combination of karmayoga, dharmayoga and especially gyan yoga and live to the reality that you reveal from your studies. At enlightenment one has perfected the art of living in performing ones duties and responsibilities because one lives in realisation of God Sri Krishna to whom one is devoted and who one pleases with what one does in life.

Thoughts arise in the mind from two aspects of reality, the external one that one witnesses through ones senses; and the inner consciousness one that the body has no control over. The inner consciousness gives rise to the majority of one’s waking thoughts in highly active minds and may account for up to 90 per cent of one’s thoughts and day dreams. Even in the sleep state the inner consciousness causes visions and dreams. People with highly active minds are those with sattvic nature that seeks truth and when the person is very sattvic the mind is so active that the person’s mental state is said to border on insanity, that is said to be a mental disorder. That is what has happened to mental patients who suffer from schizophrenia and delusional disorders in which there is some DNA-associated difference from normal brain function that makes the mind highly active in terms of seeking truth such that the person cannot ignore the thoughts, visions and voices that come to him or her from inner consciousness. But one needs to confront ones mental demons and whilst this can be done through meditation that is only massaging the symptoms. If one is after seeking a cure for the condition meditation to quell the thoughts for peace of mind is not the answer. Instead, one has to confront ones delusional thoughts by investigating them through fact-finding studies and then developing the correct understanding of life and the universe, that is of the external and internal reality.

Edited: 24 June 2014

25 August 2014 Update: I have today come across this article on the gunas (http://www.thenewyoga.org/GUNAS.pdf). Signficantly, Peter Wilberg says that Gu in Guru refers to transcending the Gunas, whilst the syllable Ru means devoid of form or quality. So Guru is one who transcends the gunas or qualities.

As discussed by me above transcending the gunas is only achieved by submitting to God (through direct correspondence) who will reveal the truth about our existence, dharma, and ultimately, Sri Krishna’s Vishwaroopa as the reality. Then one has become a Guru, a know-all.

Social speciation and genetic speciation in human evolution

27 Dec

A preliminary discussion of Species and Speciation in how modern humans emerged from ancestral species was discussed here: https://dispersalofhumanityfromhomoegaster.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/species-and-speciation-in-human-evolution/
It was stated that:

The intractable problem of speciation in evolutionary biology may be addressed as follows: should populations be defined as distinct species specifically in relation to the degree of speciation that will prevent the reproductional fusion of gametes for embryogenesis to a viable foetus, or should speciation be defined in terms of phenotypic parameters that takes into account morphological, physiological, biochemical and behavioural separations to the point that incompatiblity between representative samples of male and female from being able to engage in sexual intercourse can be established whether or not mating between fertile and healthy individuals can demonstrably result in a successful offspring that, in turn, was able to pass on its own genes to another generation.

Speciation is entirely defined by the genetics of incompatibility that develops between populations through different types of DNA mutations affecting the phenotype. The mechanism of speciation in Homo lineage may be as follows: Minor DNA mutations on sexually-functional genes can produce attractional features that are stimulated by complimentary traits in the opposite sex. Sexually compatible features are selected for reproductive behaviour and over time spreads in the population. The process complimentary features is reinforcing and intensifies leading to the formation of a separate social group within the population. This population will continue to diverge away with mutations in other traits and gene development as the population adapts to the environment as well. If the process of group formation through such sexual selection is incomplete the social subgroup may still have individuals that readily mate with the parent population. But the process of group formation continues. This is social speciation and can be said to be complete when 100 percent of the subppulation shows a preference in its reproductive behaviour for its own phenotype. Even when social speciation is complete artificial insemination between the subgroup and the main population will show reproductive compatibility as far as fertilisation, embryogenesis and the generation of a viable and fertile offspring is concerned.

As the subgroup develops social cohesion in mating behaviour one or more Robertsonian translocation or choromosome fusion mutation may occur spontaneously and spread through the subgroup to produce genetic incompatibility with the parent population in fertilisation, embryogenesis and the generation of a viable and fertile offspring. This is the point at which the combination of social speciation and genetic speciation has caused total incompatibility, and a new species has resulted. The process involves degrees of genetic reinforcement of social speciation that first coalesces into minor changes in subgroup behaviour, which is then gradually transformed into a cultural separation, followed by the genetic development of ethicities, and then races; these representing degrees of social speciation within populations that is distinguished from the extent of within-group mating behaviour. Upon this sequence of social speciation a single or more Robertsonian translocation or major chromosomal fusion may occasionally act to make the process of genetic speciation irreversible by disrupting genetic compatibility in fertilisation whence a new species can be said to have arisen.

The dynamics is that as a sub-group forms as a clan to begin with and proves itself to be successful in its ghetto it will displace the other groups out of the ghetto to the surrounding areas. The process of culturisation intensifies as the group spreads as its size increases and intensifies genetically into ethnicity and finally race. The social structures that work against interethnic breeding are subconscious restriction of mating behaviour. This means that from a position of small group with only behavioural differences, within-group mating starts to take place; when this reaches the proportions that results in culture to give this group its identity, say 30 per cent of this sub-group will not mate outside the group; when the group reaches the proportions of identity for which the a the term ‘ethnicity’ is applicable it will mean say 60 per cent will not mate outside the group; and when it reaches the proportions for which the term ‘race’ can be applied 90 percent of the subgroup will have the tendency to only mate within itself. That is how social speciation intensifies given all other things are equal (which it is not in the real world so that other developments in the ecological niches cloud this fundamental model of social speciation in Homo sapiens.

The process of social speciation would lead to subgroups forming in which geography, climate and food resources would be the major influences that would limit group size in an ecological niche. If resources are limitless the population will grow and expand into other territories. At the margins of ecological niches there would be evolutionary pressures to generate their own different subgroups. Whether these materialise or not would depend on whether the subgroups are viable entities. The two would develop into separate ethnicities and races with intermingling of subgroups at the boundaries of the niches. This has been the process for the past 15,000 years after the colonisation of the world was complete and populations could not transgress into other ecological zones which were already occupied by other groups. The ethnicities and races in Europe, in Africa, in South Asia, South East Asia, China and the Americas show this pattern of the development of humanity.

The current racial groups were in their geographical places of endemism 15,000 years ago and they are supposed to have arisen from an out of Africa population 80,000 years ago. So that is how long social speciation takes place. Total genetic speciation is a chance process and has not occurred since Homo ergaster was around 2 million years ago as far as I understand the data. Let us take an example of an sizeable island within which populations developed: the British Mainland. It is a geographical area with only minor mountains so people could travel about quite freely. It had and very similar climate everywhere except for the north Scotland which was slightly colder and a little wetter. It became populated only 10,000 years ago since the last Ice Age. One would expect that all of the island was occupied by humans fairly rapidly as a single migration arrived from Europe. Yet in this short space of time, we have Scottish, Welsh, Geordie, Brummies, Scouse, Cockneys, Cornish, and English (Anglians) that developed as more than cultures: ethnicities. That is how fast social speciation can take place in a small area.

Living is societies in various ways as communities, ethnicities, nations, or religious groupings enabled humans to propagate themselves (some groups more effectively than others as one would expect evolution to take place) such that humans eventually colonised the entire world in distinct groups.

Altruism and Fittestism Genes in Human Biology

14 Dec

Part of humanity lives according to the principle of exploiting their bodies and the environment to the best possible outcome in terms of material gains (wealth, fame, legacy): this gives rise to the idea of human ‘fittestism’. Another trait readily observed in humanity is altruism which is somewhat opposite to fittestism. Fittestism describes the individual’s motivation to exploit his resources to aid physical survival to the maximum benefit and is not related to the term ‘Survival of the Fittest’ in evolutionary biology. It merely describes a particular type of social trait.

Human society is composed of a spectrum of motivational strategies between the extremes of those who practice ‘fittestism’ through selfishness and sociopathic behaviour and those that practice ‘altruism’ for social development of live and let live that is reliant on the individuals sacrificing their efforts in caring for others. Both these strategies of living must have genes driving the personality of the individual, the two traits operating in a varied combined way to make the human species flourish as a social animal. There are individuals who exhibit both fittestism and altruism to varying degrees while some only exhibit one or the other. This is possible because the theory is that two independent genes or gene-systems are involved and both can reach a high level of expression in the same individual. Altruism does not reach the position of sacrificing to the point of dying in the act. Dishonest people (sociopaths and psycopaths are the extremely self-centred ones) belong to the former category and at the extreme are unable to practice altruism because their actions generate foreseen and unforeseen adverse effects on others because relationships are all interconnected.

Evolutionary biology must consider that both fittestism and alturism are examples of fitness to the same environment that all humans live in. It is highly unlikely that historically Homo sapiens has been moving on a transition course from one form of motivational strategy for living to the other, most commonly understood to be from fittestism to altruism. There are no indications when observing human societies worldwide that one or the other will predominate as being the greater (more successful) survival strategy. A balance between the expression of the two traits has taken place within the global population of human beings and therefore shown itself to have been the optimal survival strategy and hence fitness. This is to say that a compromise between the extremes has evolved within and between individuals in the human population.

Thus fittestism and altruism are both strategies of fitness. Beatsong at Rational Skepticism wrote: ”Nature is full of examples of organisms having various capacities which can contradict each other, but which have all evolved via natural selection. In fact everything comes down to this really. A lion that can run faster is more likely to catch its prey. A lion that is bigger is more likely to be able to kill its prey once it’s caught. But a lion the size of a whale is not going to be able to run as fast. So the advantages of both of these characteristics enter into the evolution of lions and you end up with a broadly optimum compromise between speed and size. Just as you do between the peacock’s need to run around and the size of it’s tail. Or between a human’s (or a lion’s, or any other mammal, for that matter) capacity for self-advancement within the social group and capacity for sacrifice for the social group”. And in the same forum, CdesignProponentsist pointed out in accepting my use of the term ‘fittestism’: ”Species do not exhibit altruistic behavior because they just happen to be nice individuals. They exhibit it because it gives the genes of their local gene pool a better chance at survival, including the genes that contribute to the altruistic behavior. It increases the fitness of the group. So altruistic behavior is a gene acting selfishly. Fittestism and Altruism can both be examples of fitness in the same environment and even the same species. Altruism benefits the gene pool and more directly benefits the altruistic genes that exhibit the behavior as those around you typically share the same genes. If you sacrifice for their benefit you increase the reproductive health of the rest of the group and thus continue to pass on the genes. This doesn’t mean that others in your same gene pool can exhibit the hording of wealth, power and respect to attract mates. A species can have both genes but expressed in varying degrees and different ways from individual to individual. Both strategies are expressed in wolf packs, chimpanzee troops or any socially advanced species including humans. There are always the power grabbers and there are always the altruistic non reproductive followers that play the support roles. The group benefits from both.”

The motivation and drive that compels those who proceed with their endeavours to succeed in their chosen careers and fields of work requires a gene or a gene-system (multiple genes?) because we know that this ‘capacity’ is absent in vast numbers of people. The capacity is unlikely to improve through correct upbringing or education. CdesignProponentsist further wrote: ”Rarely does a single gene exhibit a single expression, especially when it comes to complex expressions like social behavior. We are probably talking about a complement of genes. As far as specifics on how the two expressions relate in a single individual, I don’t have a clue. I would imagine the waters are also muddied quite a bit with the nature vs nurture problem. Having said that, there is indication of there being a particular gene responsible for sociopathic behavior. The MAO-A gene which has also been called the ‘Warrior gene’. Again, it is probably not the only gene involved in greedy power driven behavior but has a strong influence. I would imagine it is strongly selected for, for the fact that a sociopath is also a player and has a much higher reproductive success (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy#Genetics). I would also imagine a social group with all sociopaths is not as fit as a group with a mixture of sociopaths and altruists. So both are probably required for overall fitness of the group of any socially advanced species.”

Mirror neurones have been suggested to provide a mechanism for learned behaviour and the genetic basis for the development of empathy in animals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neurons

The Evolutionary Significance of Human Goodness

13 Dec

I wish to discuss human goodness in relation to my personal experience of it and my latest convictions on the lack of evidence for a Personal God (see: http://satyaadvaita.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/dr-shantanu-panigrahi-says-on-9-december-2012-that-there-is-no-personal-god/). I will start by defining  goodness in human beings from the only way I can, a personal perception because that is what I know the most about.

I felt that being truthful, transparent, honest, free of conceit, pride, and ego, greed, non-violent, pacifying as far as it can go, were important to me and that these qualities made me a good person, as opposed to a bad person. The question that puzzled me is why was I so different from many other human beings in these regards. Humanity must be divided into a spectrum of human beings from good to bad. I had assumed that this division must have been due to the possibility that right inside me a God had taken up residence as the divine soul or super soul (atma in Hinduism) getting me to do only good things in life. But I was not satisfied with that assumption. It had to be tested for truth at all costs. So I neglected my material needs for my family in order to pursue the truth of this enormously difficult question. The only way it could be resolved was to communicate with this God in a clear way that could be relied upon. I started a process of trying to correspond with this preceived God in total faith and devotion on the belief that such a Personal God would provide me with the answers especially since it was vital to human progress so would be in God’s interests to help me determine. Using various exploaratory techniques of what God’s wishes were with the aid of a digital clock for God to show me particular numbers as answers to my questions to him on my daily activities that were designed to improve myself and my life without harming others (including varying the experiments to from periods no checks, to periods of constant checks, and varying the two changing checks by altering the time display numbers), I left no stone unturned to try and ascertain whether or not there was an inner voice of God who could be planting thought in my mind as revelations and get me to do various things in my life. After 15 years of such checks I reached the conclusion that there was God seated there who I could correspond with me to influence me in my decisions by acting on my body and mind. Despite all the faith and devotion God has shown no inclination to correspond with me in the only way that he could have if he was omnipotent and omnibenevolent. So he could not have made me a good person from within which would be a much more complex task of constant influence. There was therefore absolutely no Personal God in evidence. My goodness was therefore purely biological in aetiology.

To realise this for certain had mind boggling implications on how we see human evolution. That I came about biologically to be such a gentle and good person so different from many others but was not the only such person meant that some of us at least have evolved to be caring and altruistic in relation to our from animalistic predecessors. How did it happen, and is this tendency spreading through the human population? Is there a God that does not wish to be a Personal God but nonetheless directed evolution to generate gentle human beings like me? If not, what was the evolutionary significance of gentleness, of human goodness?

Since I have discounted the deistic position as untenable, could human ‘goodness’ have served a survival and reproductional purpose? How credible is this logic? Or are ‘good’ humans a variant in Homo sapiens whose numbers in the population will decrease in the battle between the supremacy of ‘good’ over ‘bad’ people in purely evolutionary terms?

It is increasingly suggested that early experience has a crucial role to play in engendering empathy or goodness in human beings (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1982190,00.html#ixzz2Ew9cNkNX ).

studies show that those who experience such early trauma are at much greater risk of becoming aggressive or even psychopathic later on, bullying other children or being victimized by bullies themselves.

Some believe that goodness is the default position for human beings. The word ‘innate’ in the report indicates that our genes across entire humankind makes us all empathetic in nature in that we all have a certain goodness about ourselves no matter which human population one looks at in the world. Do we rule out that there might be actual genetic abnormalities/mutations in those genes that give us our basic kind and altruistic caring nature which could then make some of us excessively good or excessively bad, even only as a predisposition for the early experience to act on? Also overall is there any difference in between the two sexes as to their composition of good and bad people?

Discussion of mitochondrial Eve in relation to Human Evolution at Secular Cafe

1 Oct

So what is big deal about Mitochondrial Eve? Why is it relevant to the consideration of human evolution from 2 million years ago until today expecially in South and East Asia?

Cath B at Secular Cafe replied: The study of mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) is an important tool in our quest to understand the routes and time-scales involved as the ancestors of modern humans colonised different parts of the planet as well as the extent to which this involved assimilation with and/or or replacement of earlier populations.

The knowledge we have gleaned and continue to glean, from mDNA and other studies provides convincing evidence that descendants of Mitochondrial Eve and associated contemporaries then living (current evidence suggests) in East Africa were the predominant or only ancestors of all people in all parts of the world living today.

I then asked concerning the human mitochondrial molecualar clock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mitochondrial_molecular_clock): I have no problem with accepting the use of the word ‘predominant’, but am not sure that mitochondrial Eve can be said to be the only ancestor of all people (male and female) living in all parts of the world today. I need genetic evidence to conclusively prove that this is the case. What does it say about the Han Chinese? In particular I am concerned that the descendents of the earlier migration of Homo erectus from Africa 1.5 million years ago from whom the recent hobbits (Homo floresiensis) arose in Indonesia are said to have all gone extinct. Also I do not know what the species name of mitochondrial Eve is supposed to have been: Homo ergaster, homo sapiens, homo erectus, H. rhodesiensis/H.heidelbergensis: if it was the latter how did it differ from the earlier species?

Also, I have concerns on the methodology of mitochondrial Eve. To be able to determine the natural mutation rates as you describe reliably, scientists would have had to examine the mtDNA of at least 10 generations of female human beings in a single family, and then replicate this kind of observations 20 times plus. Do you have a reference or a link/report on the results of such a study?

Also do you know if there is a published report on the derived mtDNA sequence of mitochondrial Eve?

Comment: I posted essentially the same questions at Secular Cafe as I had done at Talk Rational.org, but  posters/moderators here indicated that I should do my own homework instead: http://secularcafe.org/showthread.php?p=408011#post408011. I prefer to develop knowledge through interactional sharing of opinions. Accordingly, I would welcome any posts on the subject directly at this blogsite so that the analysis of the science of human evolution may be taken forward one step at a time in a way that ordinary people can comprehend the story and posters and commentators receive due credit for their contributions.

Discussion of mitochondrial Eve in relation to Homo ergaster at Talk Rational.org

1 Oct

In view of the lack of comments in this blog on the topic of mitochondrial Eve and its implications and relationship to Homo ergaster, I took my question to Talk Rational.org for the views of experts who post there. The discussions may be followed in the following link:http://www.talkrational.org/showthread.php?t=52309 (MRCA – most recent common ancestor).

The essential posted words were from Steviepinhead as follows:DEPENDING ON WHICH KIND OF DNA WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, we’ll have a different set of ancestors. The MRCA of all living humans has to comprehend the multiple lines of inheritance involved with the nuclear (chromosomal) DNA — with the exception of the Y in the case of males. So that’s going to necessarily run back to a different person than the single, matrilineal, all-female, mother-to-daughter-only line of inheritance for mtDNA. … For these reasons, mtDNA “Eve” is just that, the MRCA of all the mtDNA borne by all living humans. She’s NOT the MRCA of all humans (in the sense of tracing the chromosomal DNA back through multiple criss-crossing lines of inheritance). She’s not even necessarily, for the same reason, the MRCA of all living human females. WHY NOT? Because human females have more kinds of DNA — and more lines of inheritance — than JUST their mtDNA. The only kind of DNA of which mtDNA “Eve” is the MRCA is the (remnant) mitochondrial DNA. We could go through the same kind of analysis for Y-chromosome “Adam” and get similar results.

Comments:

(1) It seems to me that the only sound way of determining MRC (human)A of all human beings alive today from genetic analysis would be to examine the entire nuclear (chromosomal) DNA for sequence patterns; but that due to considerable size and variability plus mutational changes between generations it is not possible for modellers to do this kind of computational prediction. So they choose the easier option of mtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA for modelling purposes. The entire nuclear genome analysis might take us back to a Homo ergaster as the source of all humans alive today. However, this kind of study is near impossible to do because of changes introduced by recombination; further DaveGodfrey suggests that the MRCA for nuclear genes is in fact likely to have been much more recent than Mitochondrial Eve or Y-Chromosome Adam citing the following report: http://tedlab.mit.edu/~dr/Papers/Rohde-MRCA-two.pdf. I do not follow this logic and the topic is compounded by other considerations.

(2) To be able to determine the natural mutation rates as you describe reliably, scientists would have had to examine the mtDNA of at least 10 generations of human beings in a single family, and then replicate this kind of observations 20 times plus. And this suggestion would still only amount to a preliminary look-see investigation with more detailed studies needed. There is no other way to get at the facts on mutations, mitochondrial or nuclear. The entire concept of randomness in the nature and frequencies of DNA mutations will come under scrutiny. This may show that there are no consistent natural mutation rates on any kind of mutation on which to base any analyses and prediction of Eve. Specifically, how many different patterns of mtDNA sequences have scientists recognised in total in the current world populations of females and males, and how was the probability of each pattern in the total world population estimated? Secondly, what are the total number of different kinds of mutations possible in the mtDNA and how will anyone know for certain that these figures were the same in all previous generation of humans as they are in today’s generation. Thirdly, how can anyone estimate the rate at which these generational mutations took place without conducting studies on the actual DNA of humans over the generations?

Until the computational methodology is validated by hard scientific evidence of this nature or indeed on the theoretical facts upon which the prediction of mutation rates are actually based, the finding of a mitochondrial Eve at 200,000 years ago can only be regarded as speculative. In other words, there has to be sound basis for probabalistic computations to derive ancestry in genetic science. I would like to see evidence that the researchers have addressed these issues soundly.

Is Tachytely in Human Evolution a sign of Guided Evolution

18 Sep

Is the phenomenon of accelerated evolution known as “tachytely” not to be considered a scientific phenomena of evolution because it does not comprehend that evolution is simply the unpredictable and haphazard nature of natural mutation rates and selection in any species? Do we therefore consider the speed of human progress as an accident of Nature. Or is it an indication that a supernatural process was responsible for guiding human evolution?

Prof Tattersall, from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, told the conference.’However you slice it, evolution within this [human family] has been very rapid indeed, I think it’s fair to say that our species Homo sapiens and its antecedents have come much farther, much faster than any other mammalian group that has been documented in this very tight time-frame’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19598980.

If one accept the theory that man evolved from the ape Homo habilis in Africa 2 million years ago, it spread throughout the globe very quickly indeed and this is only possible from pure evolutionary processes if its’s DNA changed to be able to live in just about any kind of climate and environment with total control over its predators. It seems that hominid (Homo) species since Homo ergaster in Africa has evolved much faster than would be expected from observations of mammalian species over the same time period, for example chimpanzees. Thus, Tachytely or accelerated evolution has indeed taken place as normally species take much longer to move out of their individual niches. It is an acknowledgement that there may be forces operating to produce mutation at predictable rates and on specific DNA sequences and on the accommodating population dynamics that would have equilibrated gene dispersal over both the ensuing Homo erectus and Homo sapiens descendents of Homo ergaster geographically that has guided human evolution.

If this interpretation is correct, do we in effect not have the suggestion of an unnatural (God’s) interference into the evolutionary process?