Excusing Darwinism’s Lack of Evidence
Several recent papers either rationalize evolution’s failures, or else agree that the theory needs revision.
Scientists develop new theory of molecular evolution (Phys.org). This article begins with the defunct “march of human evolution” icon, signaling something is already wrong. It claims that protein evolution often leads to convergence, and that evolutionists need to take this into account (see also Science Daily). Whether their analogy of the Stuff Happens Law provides clarity, the reader can decide:
“We like to think of the other amino acids as a bunch of kids jumping down on a memory foam mattress while you try to walk on it,” Pollock said. “Most of the time your feet are sunk into the mattress and you can’t step forward, but every so often the kids will create a dent in the mattress that allows you to step ahead.“
Heterochronic evolution explains novel body shape in a Triassic coelacanth from Switzerland (Nature Scientific Reports). The authors of this paper describe a variation on the coelacanth body plan, knowing full well that the coelacanth is a classic “living fossil” that did not appreciably evolve for millions of years between its last fossil appearance and the discovery of living counterparts. If this variant was being naturally selected toward some non-coelacanth, they don’t say so. Instead, they say that “This species broadens the morphological disparity range within the lineage of these ‘living fossils’ and exemplifies a case of rapid heterochronic evolution likely trigged [sic] by minor changes in gene expression.”
Why it’s difficult to predict evolutionary fate of a new trait (Brown University). This press release displays a surprising diagram that basically shows that average ‘fitness’ stays unchanged over time. “Fitness can be fickle,” the evolutionists say, and is subject to complications. See our 9/09/17 entry for details.
Blind cave fish lost eyes by unexpected evolutionary process (New Scientist). Michael LePage sees trouble for standard evolutionary theory in this latest visit to a case of “evolution by loss”—loss of functional eyes. “We’ve found out why a Mexican cavefish has no eyes – and the surprising answer is likely to be seized upon by those who think the standard view of evolution needs revising,” he teases. The upshot is that no genetic mutations were selected. Instead, the blindness appears to be a consequence of epigenetic change. LePage entertains the notion that the change looks Lamarckian, and might fuel the movement to include epigenetics into a revised neo-Darwinism called the “extended evolutionary synthesis.” He gives the last word to David Shuker of the University of Edinburgh. “He thinks some people are trying sneak religious ideas back into evolutionary theory.” That’s too late, though. Cornelius Hunter shows in his book Science’s Blind Spot that religious ideas gave rise to Darwinism in the first place, and religious ideas keep it going. Which religious ideas, you ask? What Hunter calls Theological Naturalism: the religion that says, in short, ‘Naturalism must be true because God wouldn’t create things that way.’
Molecular ensembles make evolution unpredictable (PNAS). Sailer and Harms make a resounding argument that evolution is unpredictable, given the nature of proteins and other macromolecules:
A long-standing goal in evolutionary biology is predicting evolution. Here, we show that the architecture of macromolecules fundamentally limits evolutionary predictability. Under physiological conditions, macromolecules, like proteins, flip between multiple structures, forming an ensemble of structures. A mutation affects all of these structures in slightly different ways, redistributing the relative probabilities of structures in the ensemble. As a result, mutations that follow the first mutation have a different effect than they would if introduced before. This implies that knowing the effects of every mutation in an ancestor would be insufficient to predict evolutionary trajectories past the first few steps, leading to profound unpredictability in evolution. We, therefore, conclude that detailed evolutionary predictions are not possible given the chemistry of macromolecules.
Excuses, excuses. This is the greatest idea the world ever produced? This is the elegant theory Richard Dawkins gushes over? Come on. Science can do better than “stuff happens.”