Occasionally on this site I’ve noticed the following definition of evolution being given:
Evolution is a change of allele frequency through time in a population
Recently the following (From here):
The statement "evolution is driven by mutations" is very misleading if not simply wrong. Just have a look at an intro course to evolutionary biology!
In short, evolution is a change of allele frequency over time.
But mutations are important to evolution, and I feel must be included in the definition.
Here’s why that concerns me: One group of evolution deniers, and others like them, use comments like these above to try and show a weakness in evolution.
With comments like:
“It is a bit of a trick played by using sloppy language. Evolutionists use adaptation, which is observed, to support evolution, which is an entirely different process. It is an example of bait and switch.”
“Next time someone says that evolution is an observed scientific fact make sure you get them to clearly define what they are talking about. They will almost certainly be referring to adaptation but want you to believe they have proved evolution. Don’t be fooled. Sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking.”
Ok, I hate to give them ‘air-time’ by posting that, but perhaps it will cause us to clarify ourselves better. Answers like "a change of allele frequency through time" just end up feeding right into this kind of evolution-denial.
SO, here’s my question Since there’s a lot people here smarter than me: Can someone please offer up a stronger definition of evolution than just ‘a change in allele frequency over time’?
In researching answers I found this on Berkeley’s site:
“Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations).”
I like that it goes beyond small-scale (which these others would just call adaptation). But this doesn't mention natural selection, and mutations; which I feel are important distinctions given the kind of comments these deniers make. Is there a reason Berkeley's definition didn't include those distinctions?
EDIT: Can someone explain the down-vote? I followed everything outlined under How to ask a good question