Is It Becoming Safer to Doubt Darwin?
One recent secular news article leaves Darwin flailing without answers, but don’t expect a revolution just yet.
Some creationist writers are taking interest at an article by Marlowe Hood, a French press correspondent, who gives Darwin a hard time. Her May 28 article on Dawn.com, “Sweeping gene survey reveals new facets of evolution,” has been reproduced by several conservative news sites, and on Phys.org, where it generated a lively trail of public comments. Unless and until her ideas are echoed by leading secular science sites in America and the UK, though, it may be premature for creationists to celebrate, because the standard consensus Big Science sites show no sign of opening the doors to debate about Darwin.
Hood’s article concerns a survey of mitochondrial “DNA barcodes” examined on 100,000 species of animals by two geneticists looking for patterns of evolution.
That would be Mark Stoeckle from The Rockefeller University in New York and David Thaler at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who together published findings last week sure to jostle, if not overturn, more than one settled idea about how evolution unfolds.
The paper in Human Evolution is available in PDF form from Rockefeller University. Stoeckle and Thaler wanted to see if a Darwinian assumption was borne out by data: namely, that species become more diverse over time. They surveyed DNA deposited in GenBank and found that the assumption is false: genetic diversity across all groups is about the same. But then they said something that raised creationist eyebrows:
For the planet’s 7.6 billion people, 500 million house sparrows, or 100,000 sandpipers, genetic diversity “is about the same”, he said.
The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
“This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,” Thaler said.
That reaction is understandable: how does one explain the fact that 90 per cent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age? Was there some catastrophic event 200,000 years ago that nearly wiped the slate clean?
One must not assume that they’re talking about the Biblical Flood or something, and just getting the date wrong, because that’s not the intent of the statement. Being evolutionists, Thaler and his colleague do not deny the millions of years of the moyboys during which live originated and evolved. They mean that some population bottleneck left most of the earlier species behind as today’s species emerged relatively recently. Their interpretation is likely to be contested by other scientists, but here’s the upshot:
What they saw was a lack of variation in so-called “neutral” mutations, which are the slight changes in DNA across generations that neither help nor hurt an individual’s chances of survival.
In other words, they were irrelevant in terms of the natural and sexual drivers of evolution.
How similar or not these “neutral” mutations are to each other is like tree rings — they reveal the approximate age of a species.
Which brings us back to our question: why did the overwhelming majority of species in existence today emerge at about the same time?
In journal jargon, “Similar neutral variation of humans and other animals implies that the extant populations of most animal species have, like modern humans, recently passed through mitochondrial uniformity.” There are other possibilities than a population bottleneck, though. Hood’s article suggests that the continuity of evolutionary change could also explain the recent emergence of living species. Even so, Stoeckle and Thaler threw another grenade at Darwin:
And yet — another unexpected finding from the study — species have very clear genetic boundaries, and there’s nothing much in between.
“If individuals are stars, then species are galaxies,” said Thaler. “They are compact clusters in the vastness of empty sequence space.”
The absence of “in-between” species is something that also perplexed Darwin, he said.
In short, the findings that are “sure to jostle, if not overturn, more than one settled idea about how evolution unfolds” include (1) clear genetic boundaries between species, (2) no sign of increasing genetic diversity within groups over time, and (3) evidence that living species arose simultaneously within the last few hundred thousand years. While some of these findings can be interpreted as consistent with creation more than with evolution, it must be noted that Stoeckle and Thaler, while surprised, are not abandoning Darwinian evolution. Perhaps most interesting is Thaler’s comment that “This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,” and Marlowe Hood’s willingness to expose several weaknesses in evolutionary theory without including just-so stories to rescue Darwin from the trouble.
Another news item from the National Institutes of Health, posted by Phys.org, shows that blindness in cavefish is not an example of Darwinian evolution. Rather, it is a case of epigenetic modification. It can’t be Darwinian, because the genes are the same between a Mexican cave species and a sighted variety, and they can interbreed. The scientists in the article do not doubt that the cavefish evolved, but the change occurred to regulation of genes, not to gene sequences themselves. The same kinds of changes are implicated in human eye disorders.
“Our study indicates that small genetic changes that alter epigenetic regulation can play an important role in evolution by triggering dramatic changes in the expression of large sets of genes,” said Aniket V. Gore, Ph.D., the study’s lead author.
The article does not mention how long the change to cave adaptation would take, but it would seem “dramatic changes in the expression of large sets of genes” are capable of occurring quickly.
Darwin’s Theory Only Half-Right?
Scientists at Syracuse University “rethink co-evolution of marine life, oxygenated oceans,” says Science Daily. The article says, “the group’s findings are a potent reminder of how Darwin’s theory of evolution may be only half-right.” A closer look, though, shows that they are not claiming Darwin was half-wrong. They’re saying that the environment evolves as life evolves: more evolution, not less. Darwin still takes all: “It is a prime example of the co-evolution of life and the planet,” this article ends.
Darwin Chants for Darwin Chance
The news is still filled with articles that assume and tout Darwinian evolution without any sign of debate. “We are still evolving,” asserts Karl Gruber on Phys.org, using old arguments from vestigial organs (wiggling ears) and microevolution (lactose intolerance) to reassure the peasants that Darwin explains all life up to your friend’s blue eyes. Darwin’s natural selection still appears in biology papers like this one in Science Magazine, even for changes as small as behavioral changes witnessed within a species of lizard.
Darwin’s book is still treated like inspired Scripture, too. Phys.org reproduces Kindt and Latty’s “Guide to the classics: Darwin’s On the Origin of Species” from The Conversation, which exonerates Darwin from the mistakes of Social Darwinism, gives him an escape hatch from eugenics (calling it “a blatant misuse of Darwin’s theory”), presents creationists as fools who don’t understand science, and calls The Origin a “must-read” today. They trot out the old icon. of finch beaks. They even chide Darwin for being too shy to present human evolution in The Origin in 1859 till he became bold enough to do so in 1872 in The Descent of Man. It was those darn creationists who put sheepishness into the heart of this great communicator who was only trying to put facts before the world.
So why another “guide to the classic” Darwin? “Indeed in this age of the counter-factual and pseudo-factual, acquaintance with the foundations of our scientific tradition — and insights into the struggles of their creation — seems a matter of some urgency.” With creationist Visigoths lurking outside the castle walls, the priests of the sacred Darwin tree are too passionate to let a few inconvenient truths about genetics get in the way.
Expect Another Eruption
Kilauea is undergoing record eruptions this month, smothering houses in rivers of lava, but nothing triggers a faster eruption than threatening to soften the teaching of Darwinism in schools. “Arizona is about to find out” Brandon Specktor warns. In Live Science, he comes to the Bearded Buddha’s defense under the marble idol with a typical DODO campaign (Darwin-Only, Darwin-Only!), blasting the governor’s attempt to have the state’s science standards call Darwinism just a “theory” not a “widely-accepted scientific fact.” The state will not be teaching creation or intelligent design – that would threaten a supervolcano – but attempts to downplay the e-word are enough to pour hot lava from the crucibles of the media, Big Science and NGOs that will descend down on Arizona with threats of lawsuits until the state cowers in fear before the mandarins of “science.”
So no, it is not becoming safer to doubt Darwin.
Educators, will you please get smart? Stop using the argument that evolution is “just a theory.” That grants it WAY too much credibility. It’s not science; it’s not even a theory. It’s a fairy story for adults. It’s a narrative propped up with just-so stories and defended by threats, intimidation, assertion, bandwagon, and all the other tricks in the propaganda playbook exposed in our Baloney Detector.
Darwin skeptics have been way too civil and nice. We need to fight fire with fire. We need stronger lava pushing back against their hot lava. The best lava to fight back with is laughter. Evolution is silly! (20 Dec 2017). Nobody caused nothing to become everything! LOL! Darwin’s science is: Stuff Happens! Wow, what a great “theory”!
Here’s what you need to do. Don’t look angry, but just stand tall, stare the Darwinist in the eye, and ask some direct questions. Do not accept evasion for an answer. Keep hammering at them until they expose their own folly to the media and everyone listening. We need a Ben Shapiro to go on the attack against the DODO heads who are pushing DOPE.
- So because finch beaks changed by a millimeter, humans have bacteria ancestors. Is that your argument?
- Are you good at math? Does nobody times nothing equal everything?
- Isn’t it the case that Darwin’s theory amounts to “stuff happens”? What kind of theory is that? Isn’t that the opposite of science?
- Aren’t mutations matters of chance? Sheer dumb luck?
- Isn’t natural selection a matter of chance, too? It’s blind, unguided, aimless, right? OK, so what’s aiming it? The environment? OK, so landslides create eyes? Come on.
- What do you get when you add chance to chance? So evolution is about chance, isn’t it? Do you think chance made the living world with all its wonders? I don’t have that kind of faith in sheer dumb luck.
- Are you telling me that your brain is a product of chance? Sheer dumb luck? Then why should I listen to the mouth it’s operating?
- Are you telling me that the very brain you are using right now to make an argument has no logic behind it, but just mindless chance?
- Oh, so we’re supposed to believe your silly Darwin stories just because your bandwagon says so?
- So because a guy glued white moths on black tree trunks, humans have bacteria ancestors. Is that your argument?
- If evolution is true, your case for teaching Darwin is just a strategy to pass on your genes, isn’t it? Isn’t that a consequence of what you believe?
- Does truth evolve? What makes you think a physical object like your brain is capable of comprehending “truth”?
- Why should I believe your case is right, when evolution is just about power? Are you trying survival of the fittest on me? Well, bring it on! [roll up sleeves]
- I know what you are up to. You just want sex. That’s all Darwinism is about, isn’t it? Police! This guy is harassing me!
- Please tell the members of the media right now how logic evolved. This should be funny. [fold arms]
- Why do you worship the Bearded Buddha? Isn’t it true that the Darwin you worship was a racist, a eugenicist, and white supremacist and a schemer? Look—it’s right there in the subtitle of his book: “the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.” What a bigot! I can’t believe you love a bigot! Reporters—jot that down.
- Do you really think kids should be taught the views of a bigoted racist and white supremacist like Charlie?
- You know that the old “march of human progress” is wrong, don’t you? Promise our state you’ll never use it again. In fact, you will join me in exposing all those old false icons of evolution, like Haeckel’s fraudulent embryos, some of which are still in our textbooks, won’t you?
- [If they waffle], What? Are you saying your theory is so weak, it needs to be propped up with lies and frauds? We don’t want fake science in this school district! Take it to California!
- Please explain to the press here how Charlie’s antiquated Victorian ideas will improve STEM education, so that we can compete in the world in the 21st century.
- This is the information age! Our students need to understand codes and programming, like the genetic language Charlie knew nothing about. Why are you still pushing that quaint old Victorian myth? Get with the times, man!
- We need students who can think critically, rather than lazy quitters who just throw up their hands and sigh, “Stuff happens.”
You can make up questions of your own like this, but stop being sheepish about being a Darwin skeptic. Go on the offensive! What evolutionists believe is stupid, and some day soon it will be the laughingstock of the world. Sing some of our Darwin songs to the press, have them join in, and get them laughing, too. When the world learns to laugh at Darwin, the lights will come on. It will be like pulling back the curtain on the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws.
You’re off to shame the Wizard, the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws
You’ll find he is a Wimp of a Wiz if ever a Wiz there was
If ever, oh ever, a Wimp there was the Wizard of Flaws is one because
Because, because, because, because,
Because of the blunderful spins he does
You’re off to shame the wizard, the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws.
For more examples of going on offense, see the article “How to Nudge an Elitist” from 11 June 2017.