Does Evolution Produce Winners?
Referees at UCLA are calling the shots in an unusual sport: the evolution game. Mammals, birds and fish swept the medals. The losers? crocodiles, alligators, and a “living fossil” reptile called the tuatara. According to the judges, the more the biodiversity, the more a group wins points; the more their species go extinct or remain unchanged, the more they lose points.
Science Daily reported the scores. “Our results indicate that mammals are special,” judged evolutionary biologist Michael Alfaro. He and his colleagues dished out the awards to all kinds of groups – kangaroos, parrots, coral reef fish, songbirds, and most of the mammals. Crawling in last place were some of the reptile groups. The tuatara, which lives on isolated places on New Zealand’s south island, was a big loser. There may have been a few dozen species in its heyday during the dinosaur era. Now, only one species remains. “In the same period of time that produced more than 8,000 species of snakes and lizards, there were only two species of tuatara,” Alfaro said.
It’s not clear, though, why the rich species are being judged winners.
“That is one of the big mysteries about biodiversity,” Alfaro said. “Why these evolutionary losers are still around is a very hard thing to explain. They have been drawing inside straights for hundreds of millions of years. It’s a real mystery to biologists how there can be any tuataras, given their low rate of speciation. They must have something working for them that has allowed them to persist. In species richness, these are losers, but in another sense, this highlights how unique they are. There are incredibly disparate patterns of species richness.”
Another mystery is the timing. “The timing of the rate increases does not correspond to the appearance of key characteristics that have been invoked to explain the evolutionary success of these groups, such as hair on mammals or mammals’ well-coordinated chewing ability or feathers on birds,” Alfaro continued. He admitted, “We need to look for new explanations.”
Winners and losers, right. OK. Alfaro is just using creative writing, we understand. Or is he? He seems to really believe in his criterion for judging winners: species richness. Why not the other way around?
The Darwin Party often criticizes creationists for proposing a designer who intervenes in his creation, as if he couldn’t get it right the first time. Alright, why couldn’t Tinker Bell, the goddess of the Darwinians, get it right? Maybe the tuatara should be judged the winner. It landed on a body plan and lifestyle that has persisted essentially unchanged for hundreds of millions of years (if we are to believe the article’s flexible dating terminology – you know, a million here, a few million there; pretty soon you’re talking real funny). Meanwhile, Tinker Bell had to keep tinkering with the birds and mammals and fish, never being content with her accidental products of emergence. It should go without question to perspicuous readers that claiming the tuatara has survived unchanged over a hundred million years calls into serious doubt their dating scheme.
The criteria are silly, but worse are Alfaro’s oscillations between bold pronouncements and admissions of ignorance. One moment he is announcing the winners like an impartial referee; the next moment he is admitting he doesn’t even know the rules. He doesn’t understand the game, he doesn’t understand the metrics, and he doesn’t understand the plays. Stuff happens, but he doesn’t know why. Who appointed him a judge?
There are no winners in evolution. Everyone is a loser. Fitness is a vacuous statement, because it can mean opposite things (12/19/2007 commentary). The fitness landscape collapses onto the frictionless surface, infinite in all directions, with no coordinates. Values evaporate in the evolutionary world view. Existence is fleeting, death is certain, and extinction is inevitable. Nobody cares if you live or die. If a meteor wipes out all life on the planet, nobody weeps. Undoubtedly Alfaro himself would shrink back from that thought. Why? Because he is more than a product of evolution; he has a soul, and he knows innately the value of values. If we forced the Darwinists to eat the fruit of their evil roots, they would whimper away, learning not to say stupid things. Help them out. Embarrass a Darwinist today. It’s known as tough love.