July 22, 2013 | David F. Coppedge

"Extreme Convergence" Strains Credibility of Darwinism

When completely unrelated animals or plants display the same engineering solution, is it reasonable to assume a blind, unguided process of selection achieved improbable outcomes multiple times? Is calling it “convergent evolution” meaningful?  Here are three examples.

1. Lizard convergence:  A paper in Science (see also Live Science summary) claims that lizards on separate Caribbean islands converged on remarkably similar body traits. They found “morphologically and behaviorally similar species that occupy similar microhabitats” on islands where ancestral lizards did not possess the derived convergent properties.  The Live Science article includes photos of lizards from different islands that match in color, markings and habitats, even though they supposedly evolved separately over millions of years.

The authors consider this an example of “extreme convergence.”  They use their findings to claim evolution can be predictable, contrary to the late Stephen Jay Gould’s famous view that if one ran the tape of life a second time, the outcomes would probably be very different.  The authors attribute convergent patterns to the environment:

Parallel radiations unfolding at large temporal scales shed light on the process of adaptive diversification, indicating that the adaptive landscape may give rise to predictable evolutionary patterns in nature, that adaptive peaks may be stable over macroevolutionary time, and that available geographic area influences the ability of lineages to discover new adaptive peaks.

This explanation, however, merely shifts the design to the environment without explaining why a blind habitat would interact with a blind process of selection to produce extreme convergence.

2. Fish convergence:  Surprise – tuna are more closely related to seahorses than to marlins, even though tunas and marlins share the same streamlined shape.  The new “life-changing” phylogeny, reported by Live Science, shakes up a number of branches on the fish family tree.  By implication (although the article doesn’t mention it), the streamlining of tunas, marlins and sharks all arose by convergent evolution.  Another surprise from the new tree is that fish apparently were unaffected by the catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs; “We cannot say why,” an evolutionist at UC Davis shrugged.

3. Brain convergence:  One of the most extreme claims about convergent evolution was reported by Science Daily.  Evolutionists at Imperial College London are now claiming that “Birds and Humans Have Similar Brain Wiring.”

You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realise, according to research. It shows that humans and birds have brains that are wired in a similar way.

A researcher from Imperial College London and his colleagues have developed for the first time a map of a typical bird brain, showing how different regions are connected together to process information. By comparing it to brain diagrams for different mammals such as humans, the team discovered that areas important for high-level cognition such as long-term memory and problem solving are wired up to other regions of the brain in a similar way. This is despite the fact that both mammal and bird brains have been evolving down separate paths over hundreds of millions of years.

The team suggest that evolution has discovered a common blueprint for high-level cognition in brain development.

Though not stated explicitly, convergent evolution is implied as the explanation: e.g., “They discovered that despite both hub nodes having evolved differently, the way they are wired up within the brain looks similar.”

[Brief pause to laugh out loud that evolution could discover anything, especially “a common blueprint for high-level cognition in brain development.”]

Brett Miller, who draws the excellent cartoons for this site, wrote up an essay called “The Convergence Concoction” that handily exposes, with cartoons and numerous examples, that this Darwinian explanation is a myth cooked up to avoid powerful evidence for design.  (His excellent cartoon “Parallelizards” in the article is right on point for the Caribbean lizard story.)  What more could falsify evolution than dozens of striking similarities in animals and plants that have no ancestral relationship in the Darwinian myth?  Darwin wanted an aimless, unguided process.  The views of some evolutionists like Simon Conway Morris that evolution predictably converges on archetypal forms borders on Platonic mysticism.  No; to be Darwinian, it must be random and unguided.  The  world is not that way.  There’s similarity across tree branches everywhere.  When evolutionists invent a phrase, “convergent evolution,” to dodge a falsification, they deserve no more respect than politicians who speak out both sides of their mouths.

 

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