#3 Modified Traits

Darwin founded his Theory of Descent with Modification through Natural Selection by likening Natural Selection to artificial selection by Man of domesticated animals. 

Artificial selection

Charles Darwin knew a lot about artificial selection from his pigeon fancying hobby –which was more of a home-based experiment than a simple hobby.  Man has produced many varieties of domesticated animals and cultivated plants, often with quite stunning traits.  In Chapter 1 of The Origin of Species Darwin describes artificial selection as nature providing variations in traits and Man adding them up in certain directions useful to him to produce an accumulative selection.  The importance consists in the great effect produced by the accumulation in one direction, during successive generations of slight differences (Origin, page 38).

The domestic breeds of pigeon – pouters, fantails, runts, barbs, dragons, carriers and tumblers are all descended from one wild species –the rock pigeon.  Darwin thought that the different breeds differed so extraordinarily in length and form of beak that they would have been ranked as distinct genera had they been found in the wild.

The breeder of domesticated animals produces the desired trait over many generations of breeding by selecting offspring that carry the desired trait to some degree and allowing these favoured individuals to survive and breed, while disposing of the remaining offspring.


In the wild, in order to survive, organisms must be adapted to their environment.  Darwin showed by careful analysis of many facts that natural populations have many variations in physical traits and individuals carrying advantageous traits that afford them greater adaptation survive and leave more offspring than less adapted individuals.  Darwin theorized that the continuing natural selection of slight variations in traits carried by individuals brings about the modification of these traits, and the continuing process leads to speciation.

Species and varieties

In the first two chapters of The Origin of Species Darwin discusses the difficulties that naturalists had of deciding whether closely related forms were distinct species or varieties of the same species.  He shows that each naturalist made a different classification with some naturalists ranking forms as distinct species and others ranking the same forms as varieties or geographical races of the same species.

Darwin concluded that no clear line of demarcation can be drawn between species and sub-species.  Species can be thought of as strongly marked and permanent varieties (Origin page 59).  This leads to the conclusion that species could not have been separately created.


Darwin supports this conclusion by information on hybridism.  The degrees of fertility between plants and animals of different varieties, species and genera do not show a definite demarcation.

From the amassing of observations Darwin concludes that allied species are co-descendants from common stocks; species belonging to a genus are descended from one species that has been modified through Natural Selection.  He writes that the view that most naturalists at the time entertained and which he formerly entertained – that each species has been independently created – is erroneous.

 “I am fully convinced that species are not immutable; but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are lineal descendants of some other and generally extinct species, in the same manner as the acknowledged varieties of any one species are the descendants of that species.”  (Origin page 15).

Later in The Origin of Species Darwin expands this view of common descent to families and orders, and finally to class level. 

To summarize, Darwin defined Natural Selection as the preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations.  Darwin established his Theory of Common Descent mainly to class level.  Thus, Natural Selection would bring about the modification of structures and other traits such that all the species belonging to one class would have evolved from a common ancestor.  (Common descent at class level will be discussed further in Chapter 6).

The modification of traits is the first strand of evolutionary thought in The Origin of Species.

#1 Natural Selection: Strands of Evolutionary Thought

The Theory of Entropic Evolution includes the concept of Natural Selection.  But what is this concept?  In fact, as Charles Darwin presented it, the concept of Natural Selection is more than one single concept – it is a concept composed of several strands of thought.  The objective of this chapter is to untie those strands and examine them.

The Origin of Species is one of my favourite books and very enjoyable to read.  I first read it when I was at University studying biology (in my first year) and its influence has stayed with me ever since.  Although I do not reach the same conclusions as Darwin, I have always felt complete oneness with his thought processes and the mode of his reasoning.

Due to the importance of Natural Selection and associated concepts for the Theory of Nanocreation and Entropic Evolution, I am going to give a detailed description and analysis of the ideas contained in The Origin of Species in this chapter / series of posts.

I will also take this opportunity to discuss the relationship between belief in Evolution and faith, and types of Creationism.


#11 Created Life Undergoes Natural Selection

Evolution most certainly is about survival, and it is about adaptation to new environmental conditions.  But this adaptation is based on the switching off of certain genes by mutation, not on the evolution of new genes or new levels of complexity.

I uphold that natural selection allows modification of existing forms of life, but it does not cause those forms of life to exist in the first place.

I call my theory of evolution ‘Entropic Evolution’ because it involves a loss of information at the genetic level. 

Entropy in this sense is about the loss of information that occurs during transmission of the message.

Therefore, I do believe that evolution through natural selection takes place, and to a very high degree but it starts with the creation of basic forms of life.

Life was created able to evolve.

#10 A Third Meaning of Natural Selection

A third meaning to natural selection is the idea that life can become more and more complex by the building up of complexity bit by bit.  This is the belief that new body plans, new organs and new structures can develop when an animal needs them.

The problem with this is that there is no actual explanation to show how a natural process could cause new proteins to come into existence to accomplish this.

Secular scientists just observe the natural world with all its levels of complexity and say because it is there, it has evolved.  The building up of complexity through natural selection is based on belief in the theory, but lacks a real scientific basis or explanation.

#9 Two Meanings of Natural Selection

Charles Darwin wrote about natural selection in On The Origin of Species.  Natural selection, in fact, involves more than one concept.  Darwin was ambiguous about what natural selection actually meant.

A well-known explanation for natural selection is that it involves the survival of the fittest.  The weak die while the strong reproduce and leave more offspring.  In nature many more offspring are produced than survive, and even a small advantage can give the edge to the lucky individuals.

If selection pressures are strong, a change can be observed in a short space of time, may be even as little as 30 years.  For example, Darwin’s finches show different shapes and lengths of beaks depending on which seeds they eat.  If there are droughts year after year birds with short beaks die out while birds with stronger beaks live because the food source has changed.  Environmental change drives species change.

Another meaning of natural selection is the selection of modified traits such that plants and animals become adapted to new conditions and thus avoid extinction.

I fully endorse both of these meanings.