January 31, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionary Magic

What do evolutionists do when data bring surprises to their claims?  They find new ways for evolution to work magic.  See if these stories illustrate that or not.

  1. Plant-animal partnership:  One could hardly find two groups of organisms more disparate than plants and animals, but an article on PhysOrg claims that both groups hit on the same evolutionary solution to a problem independently.  The subtitle emphasized the disparity, saying, “Despite their divergent evolutionary history, membrane-bound kinase receptors in animals and plants rely on similar regulatory mechanisms to control their activity.”  To arrive at this solution, “plants took an evolutionary path different from their animal cousins,” the article continued.
        How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  “There seem to be only so many ways to build a robust signaling system,” Dr. Joanne Chory of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “and plants and animals have hit upon the same mechanisms.”  Odd; there seem to be a lot of evolutionary solutions to many other common problems.  Conservation and convergence are contrary to predictions of Darwin’s branching tree of life, but evolutionists routinely invoke those terms within evolutionary theory, not as a falsification of it.
  2. Tooth loophole:  What is the truth about the tooth in frogs?  Most frogs lack teeth on the lower jaw, but a strange tree frog in the Andes named Gastrotheca guentheri has teeth on both upper and lower jaws – the only known frog species so equipped.  The headline on the BBC News announced, “Frogs re-evolved lost lower teeth.
        How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  Dr. John Wiens of Stony Brook University published his explanation in the journal Evolution: “I combined data from fossils and DNA sequences with new statistical methods and showed that frogs lost their teeth on the lower jaw more than 230 million years ago, but that they re-appeared in G. guentheri within the past 20 million years.”
        This would have to mean that genes for lower teeth sat dormant in frogs for 210 million years.  If they served no purpose, though, why would natural selection retain them?  “The reappearance of these lower teeth after such a long time fuels debate about whether complex traits are lost in evolution or if they can resurface,” reporter Ella Davies wrote.  Is this a kind of resurrection miracle?

    “The loss of mandibular teeth in the ancestor of modern frogs and their re-appearance in G. guentheri provides very strong evidence for the controversial idea that complex anatomical traits that are evolutionarily lost can re-evolve, even after being absent for hundreds of millions of years,” Dr Wiens says….
       What G. guentheri did was to put teeth back on the lower jaw, rather than having to re-evolve all the mechanisms for making teeth ‘from scratch’,” says Dr Wiens.

    While efficient for the frog, it seems to contradict the notion that natural selection continually sifts out the bad and adds up the good.  210 million years is a long time to keep genes around that don’t do anything.  But Dr. Wiens was not done with his evolutionary magic tricks:

    “This ‘loophole’ may apply to many other cases when traits appear to re-evolve, such as in the re-evolution of lost fingers and toes in lizards,” Dr Wiens tells the BBC.
        According to Dr Wiens, this theory could be applied to other recent studies that have suggested the re-evolution of lost traits.
        In the last decade, scientists have identified and debated several attributes that have apparently “re-evolved” over time including stick insect’s wings, coiling in limpet shells, larval stages of salamanders and lost digits in lizards.

    Update 02/10/2011:  National Geographic News reported the story, saying “The discovery challenges a ‘cornerstone’ of evolutionary thinking, according to experts.”  After some argument over whether lost organs can never re-evolve (Dollo’s Law), the article admitted scientists cannot explain this by neo-Darwinism:

    With that in mind, natural selection—the process by which favorable traits become more common over time within a species—is “not enough to explain” why the marsupial tree frog regained its lower teeth.
        “I can confidently say that we don’t know,” [Gunter] Wagner [Yale U] said.  “It’s an extremely interesting question.

  3. Who’s your daddy?  Now that the orang-utan genome has been deciphered, evolutionists are saying that parts of the human genome are more closely related to orang-utans than to chimpanzees (see Science Daily).  The BBC News, reported that the orang-utan genome “evolved slowly,” while another article on Science Daily claimed that the orang genome is simultaneously “More Diverse Than Human’s, Remarkably Stable Through the Ages.
        How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  It seems the only way is to make evolution run fast and slow, both genetically and phenotypically: “That doesn’t mean the species itself has evolved more slowly,” said Devin Locke (Washington University), of the orang-utan genome, “but that this particular mechanism of genome evolution has been proceeding at a lower rate.  Humans and chimps, in sharp contrast, have experienced an acceleration in this form of evolution over the past 5 million years or so.”
  4. Carnation race:  Why would evolution’s mechanisms not follow predictable natural laws?  PhysOrg announced that carnations “show the fastest known diversification rate in plants,” at the same time some of their neighbors in similar habitats do not.  The short article tried to explain “the most rapid rate ever reported in plants or terrestrial vertebrates” as a function of arid conditions, “suggesting a link between climate and biodiversity,” but then one would expect all organisms in the Pleistocene to respond similarly in evolutionary terms.  Clearly the “living fossil” species, and many other stable organisms, have not.  What in tarnation made the carnation go on a diversity kick?

Evolutionists are clearly having to juggle a confusing jumble of data.  Science Daily put forth a new theory about intron evolution, trying to bring order out of that seeming chaos, while PhysOrg tried to weave evolution and ecology into a curious feedback loop.  Thomas Schoener (UC Davis) looked at the oscillating beak sizes of Galapagos finches, and said, “If ecology affects evolution (long supported) and evolution affects ecology (becoming increasingly supported), then what?  The transformed ecology might affect evolution, and so on, back and forth in a feedback loop.
    This will certainly confuse cause and effect inferences, to say nothing of making evolutionary trends unpredictable.  A “major research effort” will be needed to find this out, he said.  But if evolution, ecology and environment are all interconnected, evolutionary theory will have a difficult time with this three-body problem being able to predict what will happen.  With apologies to Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently convoluted evolutionary theory is indistinguishable from magic.

Has there ever been a more vacuous theory than Darwinism?  Evolution is fast except when it is slow, chaotic except when it is stable, divergent except when it is convergent, a driver except when it is driven, selfish except when it is altruistic, exorbitant except when it is thrifty, accelerating at the same time it is pushing on the brakes, dependent on the climate except when it’s not, mechanistic except when it is random.  There is no observation that cannot be incorporated into this hodgepodge of explanation, rendering it little more than a flexible, dynamic, evolving, adjusting, backpedaling, ad hoc narrative.  But we MUST teach it as FACT in the schools! (Re-read 01/29/1011 now).

(Visited 103 times, 1 visits today)
Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply