Contenders Vie for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week
Creation-Evolution Headlines needs reader feedback to rank this week’s winners. Some of these articles are so over the top, giving Darwin credit for anything and everything, it’s a wonder the Darwinists themselves don’t censor them – just to avoid public embarrassment.
- Evolve! Sing Along: New Scientist is letting you take part in the evolutionary process with music. The headline “You have the power to make music… evolve,” is accompanied by a picture of Darwin wearing headphones. So what’s this about? “At DarwinTunes.org, bioinformaticist Bob MacCallum and evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi of Imperial College London have devised a way to watch music evolve right before their eyes – and in doing so study the cultural analogue of biological evolution, also known as memetics.” So how are they going about this? “MacCullum’s computer program creates a randomly generated pair of ‘Adam and Eve’ ‘songs’–brief loops of sound. They mutate, recombine and reproduce to form a base population of 100 descendants.” OK, then what?
Participants act as the force of natural selection by listening to the songs and rating them, from “I love it!” through “It’s OK…” to “I can’t stand it ”. For every 20 songs, the 10 worst rated die off, while the 10 best rated go on to reproduce at random, with each “mating” producing two new songs. Each daughter song inherits a mixture of the parents’ computer codes, just as a biological organism inherits a mixture of its parents’ genetic codes.
Their idea compares “DarwinTunes” to chromosomes, altered notes to genetic mutations, and the junction of two random tunes to mating. It appears this entire experiment is based on analogy – similar to how Darwin used artificial selection as an analogy to natural selection. So have some fun and sing along. Just don’t use any intelligent design. Maybe the results will improve on John Cage.
- Bombs away to photosynthesis: Did Jeffrey Touchman (Arizona State) really mean to imply that meteorites gave rise to oxygenic photosynthesis? If so, that sounds almost miraculous. Photosynthesis is one of the most complex mechanisms in the living world. Here’s how the write-up on PhysOrg liberally employed the word evolution. Watch for the miraculous meteorites:
- Oxygen, one of the by-products of photosynthesis by microbes such as cyanobacteria and their descendants (including algae and higher plants), transformed the Precambrian Earth and made possible the evolution of more complex organisms.
- His research is focused on genome sequencing and molecular analyses of heliobacteria, proteobacteria and a cyanobacterium with the ability to shift into anoxygenic (oxygen-free) photosynthesis in the presence of sulfide, a possible evolutionary ‘missing link’ between anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthetic organisms.
- “Knowing how photosynthesis originated and evolved is essential to obtaining the deep understanding required to yield improvements in bioenergy, agriculture and the environment,” Touchman says.
- Hidden in these organisms’ various genetic codes may be hallmarks: traces of early evolutionary innovations pointing to the origin of oxygen-evolving high-energy photosynthesis.”
- The arrival of oxygenic photosynthesis via transport of materials by external means, such as meteorites, could profoundly change the direction of biological evolution on a planet’s surface.
The article twice employed one of science writer’s favorite stock evolutionary phrases: “‘Extreme’ genes shed light on origins of photosynthesis…. One of those actively shedding light on the origins and evolution of photosynthesis is Jeffrey Touchman, assistant professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences.” He got $867,000 from the National Science Foundation for his light shedding.
- Talk to your monkey: Scientists have uncovered the “potential existence of precursors to human language in animal vocal communication.” A reader might wonder what “potential existence” entails – especially if it is only a precursor to a real cursor (or curser). Does it mean something like a possible pre-possibility? Anyhow, Science Daily trumpeted “Syntax in Our Primate Cousins.” Certain monkeys appear to be able to combine six alert calls into sequences that provide different warnings. “This ability to combine calls may have appeared during the monkeys’ evolution to compensate for limited vocal flexibility (monkeys have less vocal flexibility than birds and cetaceans) and provide a way to encode new messages.” Conundrum: If there’s a way, is there a will? If evolution provided them with a way to encode messages, did the monkeys do the encoding by intelligent design? Or did natural selection they pay their syntax for them?
- No dentures allowed in carry-on baggage: Here’s an intriguing hypothesis: “Early birds may have dropped teeth to get airborne.” Colin Barras at New Scientist gave free rein to the speculations of Chinese scientists with a new idea of why modern birds have no teeth. “Archaeopteryx, at 150 million years old still the oldest known bird, had an imposing set of teeth,” he said. “But within 20 million years, at least some birds were toothless. Now a team led by Zhonghe Zhou at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing believe they know why.” Presumably someone can believe they know something without knowing they believe something.
Maybe a new toothless bird fossil from China can shed some light here, too: “Their analysis shows that Z. yangi belonged to one of four bird groups that independently lost their teeth, implying that this loss was no evolutionary fluke.” The parasites known as flukes (blood flukes, liver flukes, etc.) are not what they are talking about here. The statement seems to imply that while there might be an occasional fluke (or happenstance) of evolution, there are also events that are purposeful or intentional – an idea which, or course, runs contrary to the whole Darwinian paradigm.
Z. yangi’s group is the most primitive among them,” the article continued, “suggesting it could provide clues as to why tooth loss occurred.” A suggestion that a clue might be forthcoming implies that there are no clues yet. Yet without clues, it seems, there can be no answer to a “why” question based on evidence. Enter Darwin’s mechanism to the rescue: “They think natural selection may have put pressure on weaker fliers to lose their teeth in a bid to improve their skills by losing excess weight.” A curious reader might wonder if birds bid on auctions or go to self-improvement classes. An ornithology-astute reader also might wonder if the presence of gizzard stones makes this a zero-sum game for the bird, which must have compensated for the lack of teeth with additional digestive system modifications.
Reporter Colin Barras did redeem himself somewhat by quoting a lone skeptical voice: “That theory is ‘as good as any other’, says Mike Benton at the University of Bristol, UK, though he remains sceptical. ‘Losing teeth wouldn’t make a huge difference to balance in the air.’”
If one theory is as good as any other, is it also as bad as any other? That would seem the only logical possibility in a set of theories lacking any ranking of good or bad.
The emptiness of evolutionary speculation approaches a vacuum. We should abhor this vacuum. With no evidence at all, their belief in evolution is allowed to substitute for evidence. A gushy media with no guts to challenge fact-free speculation plays into the hands of belief masquerading as science, imagination masquerading as knowledge. They’re shedding light on evolution, all right (shed., verb: to discard, abandon, cast off). They walk in darkness, the blind leading the blind into the ditch, bragging about all the light Darwin gave them.