August 13, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinism as All-Purpose Fiction Plot

No scientific rigor needed. Just say “It evolved.”

As a presumed law of nature, Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection serves as an instance of Finagle’s Constant: “that quantity which, when added to, subtracted from, multiplied or divided by the answer you got, gives you the answer you should have gotten.” Darwinism, with its jargon like “selective pressure” and “evolutionary advantage,” transmogrifies any speculation into the appearance of scientific explanation so that Darwin’s story survives—no matter what—as the answer the scientist should have gotten. Here are some recent examples.

Looking different to your parents can be an evolutionary advantage (PhysOrg). Look for the high perhapsimaybecouldness index in Darwinian explanations, like this one: “Looking different to your parents can provide species with a way to escape evolutionary dead ends,” a UK Darwinist said. But if it “can” provide a “way” it also “might” not provide a way. No matter what happens, the evolutionist could explain it as the result of selection pressure.

Large human brain evolved as a result of ‘sizing each other up’ (Science Daily). This explanation dodges what Darwinian evolution is all about, claiming, “Humans have evolved a disproportionately large brain as a result of sizing each other up in large cooperative social groups, researchers have proposed.” Did humans size each other up on purpose? That would be intelligent design. The claim humans “have evolved” large brains serves only to provide affirmation to consensus ideology. But it also suggests that the scientists saying this are only sizing each other up, not trying to get to the truth.

Mosquitoes boost body armor to resist insecticide attack (PNAS). The mosquitoes with more cuticle are more resistant to spray, just like shorter cave explorers are resistant to bumping their heads. Does the Darwinian angle explain where the cuticle came from in the first place? Does it enhance “our understanding of how insects evolve,” as the authors suggest? There’s a lot more to an insect than a given quantity of cuticle.

Widespread adaptive evolution during repeated evolutionary radiations in New World lupins (Nature Communications). The authors of this paper admit, “The evolutionary processes that drive rapid species diversification are poorly understood.” That’s 157 years, mind you, after Darwin wrote about the origin of species. Nevertheless, these authors toss out phrases like “the evolution of perenniality” and “regulatory evolution” and “morphological evolution” as if they understand what they are talking about. They try to improve on Darwin’s story with a new tale of “accelerated Darwinian evolution” which, without rigor, reduces to a theory of “stuff happening faster.”

How the snake got its extra-long body (The Conversation). This headline, in classic Kipling just-so-story form, promises a story for children (see also PhysOrg copy). John Mulley of Bangor University presents genetic experiments on mice that follow what happens when a developmental gene is artificially switched on and off. Mulley offers only “tantalizing glimpses,” since many genes for vertebrae development interact in complex regulatory networks. Mice develop more vertebrate if a certain Oct4 gene is left on longer than normal, but the mutants suffer a “trade off” in limb length that reduces their fitness. So are the mice becoming snakes? What would they eat, if not themselves? The story becomes a tale told:

But the researchers were able to catch tantalising glimpses of regions of DNA that were the same between mice and snakes and that may be involved in regulating the Oct4 gene. This included some DNA that seemed to have been rearranged in snakes, possibly affecting their activity.

Regulatory evolution of Tbx5 and the origin of paired appendages  (PNAS). A good work of fiction starts with a conflict. These scientists write, “Although paired appendages are important in performing complex movements, including swimming, burrowing, and flying, their evolutionary origin remains elusive.” Darwin to the rescue! They find a gene associated with paired fins, but how about that “evolutionary origin” they spoke of? Well, that Tbx5 gene “may have had its origins in Paleozoic jawless taxa,” they say. It “might be associated with the evolution of pectoral fins,” they say. A lot of things “may” or “might” have happened. Almost anything fits that kind of explanation.

Tracing the evolution of bird reproduction (Science Daily). That phrase “the evolution of” warns that circular reasoning is approaching. Scientifically, the question should be, “Did it evolve?” These authors say nothing about mutation or selection. Instead, they line up dinosaurs and birds in an evolutionary row, place them on an evolutionary timeline, and turn on the black lights that make Darwin glow:

BM-lightclickWhat really did come first — the chicken or the egg? Birds’ reproductive biology is dramatically different from that of any other living vertebrates, and ornithologists and paleontologists have long wondered how and when the unique features of bird reproduction originated. A new Review in The Auk: Ornithological Advances examines answers from three sources — modern birds, fossils of primitive birds, and fossils of the dinosaurs from which birds are descended — to shed new light on the subject.

This Mysterious Gliding Mammal Is a ‘Sister’ to Primates (Live Science). There’s no way Mindy Weisberger could know that gliding colugos are sisters to primates except by assuming they evolved, but even evolutionists themselves “have debated colugos’ lineage for the past century.” Genome comparisons, though confusing, “could help scientists develop a clearer picture of evolution in the earliest primates, the researchers suggested.” This storybook comes with pictures!

Humans pack an efficient bite, but at a cost (PhysOrg). There’s a lot of wiggle room in this tale. The plot line, however (Darwinism), is inviolate. With Finagle’s Constant in the toolkit, though, you can have it your way like Burger King advertises.

The researchers interpret our results to suggest that human craniofacial evolution was probably not driven by selection for high magnitude unilateral biting, and that increased jaw muscle efficiency in humans is likely to be a secondary byproduct of selection for some function unrelated to forceful biting behaviors. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that a shift to softer foods and/or the innovation of pre-oral food processing techniques relaxed selective pressures maintaining craniofacial features that favor forceful biting and chewing behaviors, leading to the characteristically small and slender faces of modern humans.

Inspired by evolution: A simple treatment for breathing problem among premature infants: Device developed by UCLA scientists tricks newborns’ brains into thinking that they’re running (Science Daily). Everyone is happy when research helps infants. How much, though, does Darwinism contribute to the benefit? The connection is not clear, but it makes for a comforting story plot.

As humans evolved over many thousands of years, our bodies developed a system to help us when we start running and suddenly need more oxygen. Now, using that innate reflex as inspiration, UCLA researchers have developed a noninvasive way to treat potentially harmful breathing problems in babies who were born prematurely.

How, exactly, were the researchers “inspired by evolution” to intelligently design a device for infants?

The device is a pager-sized box with wires that connect to small disks which are placed on the skin over the joints of the feet and hands. (Placing them on the hands is another nod to how the human body evolved: Early humans ran on all fours, so nerves in the hands are still involved in signaling the brain that the body is running.) Once the battery-powered machine is turned on, the disks gently vibrate, which triggers nerve fibers to alert the brain that the limb is moving.

It’s not clear whether parents need to know the Darwinian backstory. They might just as easily assume that the reflex was designed for human infants who use all fours until they are mature enough to walk upright. Adults benefit from the reflex without input from the hands, so what does Darwin have to do with it?

Ice age fashion showdown: Neanderthal capes versus human hoodies (New Scientist). We reported this story line last week (8/06/15); New Scientist added their take with a photo of a really stupid-looking Neanderthal model in a museum apparently not knowing how to dress for success. Of course, paleontologists don’t even know if Neanderthals were naturists or fancy dressers with furry parkas, even though they somehow survived the Darwin Fitness Challenge for hundreds of thousands of years (according to the storybook). The discovery of beads and ochre suggests that Neanderthals did have a sense for style. But the story goes on, in spite of that evidence. New Scientist pictures modern humans decked out with fancy duds, reinforcing the fictional story of evolutionary progress.

Each culture has its gurus—the people in the know—who explain to the masses why things are the way they are. Darwinians provide the same function that Homer and Hesiod did for the ancient Greeks, only the Darwinians’ mythical gods are really dumb. Their gods of Mutation and Natural Selection only know two words, “Stuff Happens.” Instead of cavorting on Mt. Olympus, the Darwinian gods, and their agent spirits named “Selection Pressure” and “Evolutionary Force,” act blindly everywhere, doing whatever stuff the gods of Mutation and Natural Selection want to happen for the moment. When the spirits act fast, the gurus speak of “rapid diversification.” When they don’t act at all, the gurus speak of “evolutionary conservation.” The gurus can explain anomalies by adding new sub-plots, like “kin selection,” without sacrificing the main plot. They can insert magical elements by chanting spells conjuring up innovation, novelty, or adaptation, providing only enough detail to provide “tantalizing glimpses” so that peasants keep coming back for more. No matter what happens, the never-ending story provides a comforting sense of Enlightenment to the masses. In thanks for the Enlightenment, they continue offering their sacrificial gifts, and go away satisfied, knowing that the gurus have “shed light on evolution.”

Black light is the perfect light for evolutionist gurus to keep the deception going. It makes things glow in the dark. What ruins the glow is sunshine, which they hate. That’s why Jesus said that people love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Darwinian black light gives an illusion of understanding while allowing people to go on committing their evil deeds. What’s more evil than denying one’s Creator? The overpowering bright light of truth is painful to those with dark-adapted eyes, so they scurry back into the cave, not because they think it’s dark, but because they think it’s light. They prefer the black light that provides a fluorescent, mesmerizing glow on their fictional fantasy story. They hate the broad-spectrum light that exposes the story as a sham.

Come to the light, Jesus calls out to those who love truth (John 3:19-20).

 

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