Archive Classic: Evolution Goes Forward, Backward and Sideways

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Posted on June 15, 2014 in Darwin and Evolution, Dumb Ideas, Philosophy of Science

This is a reprint from 12/19/07, reformatted for the current website design.  It is still worth thinking about.  Be sure to try the exercise in the green commentary.

According to an article by Becky Ham on MSNBC, evolution can make things more complicated or less complicated.  She referred to iconic cartoons that show the progress of evolution from slime to couch potato.  “It’s just a joke, but the idea that life starts simple and gets more complex over time persists even in scientific circles.”  One counter example, though, is the origin of single celled life.  Archaea and bacteria may be stripped-down versions of eukaryotes.  This idea from David Penny (Massey U, NZ) suggests that eukaryotes appeared first.

Penny said, “We do think there is a tendency to look at evolution as progressive.  We prefer to think of evolution as backwards, sideways, and occasionally forward.”  Penny and his colleagues deny the popular hypothesis that eukaryotic cells emerged from the fusion of earlier, simpler life forms.  “Although the idea seems contrary to our cherished notion that evolution makes organisms more complex,” Becky Ham (no relation to Ken Ham, as far as we know) wrote, “Penny and colleagues say it’s possible.

Well, then, it follows that in evolution, anything is possible.  Penny’s colleague Chuck Kurland [Lund U, Sweden] provided more examples of simplification that “illustrate the Darwinian view of evolution as a reversible process in the sense that ‘eyes can be acquired and eyes can be lost.’  Genome evolution is a two-way street,” he said.

Visualize a hockey puck on a frictionless surface infinite in all directions, moving about in various ways.  The concepts of forward, backward and sideways lose all meaning.  The same is true in relativistic Darwinland, where an incoming asteroid can cause extinction but also a boom in emergent innovation (see Fox News). In the overall scheme of things, does it matter which direction is forward or backward?

For decades, most Darwinists have taught as fact the myth that eukaryotes are a more complex product that emerged from the fusion of simpler, more primitive microbes.  Progressivism is built into such a notion.  Now, if eukaryotes just appeared suddenly, then became stripped down into the other two kingdoms of microbes, then Darwinian miracles of emergence allow for anything.  Why don’t we extend Penny’s theory and conclude that bacteria are stripped-down humans?  (Sorry; that didn’t come out right.  Some people on the beach, though, do resemble amoebas.)

Exercise: Read the following paragraph aloud:

The Story of Evolution

Evolution explains more complexity, and more simplicity.  It explains why flight arose in some birds, but was lost in others.  With evolution, organs and genomes can become more complicated, or more streamlined.  Eyes emerge through evolution, but eyes are also lost by evolution.  Evolution makes the cheetah fast but the sloth slow.  By evolution, dinosaurs grow to skyscraper size, and hummingbirds grow tiny.  With evolution, peacocks grow more flashy and crows more black, giraffes tall and flatworms flat.  Evolution explains predator and prey, loner and herder, light and dark, high and low, fast and slow, profligacy and stinginess, terrorism and altruism, religion and atheism, virtue and selfishness, psychosis and reason, extinction and fecundity, war and peace.  Evolution explains everything.

Now substitute the meaningless word Gribbleflix for Evolution and read it again.  There you have it: the world’s most successful, all-encompassing theory.  Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of Gribbleflix.  Don’t let the anti-Gribbleflix people sneak their dogma into the schools.  Gribbleflix is science.  Gribbleflix is a FACT!

 

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