October 24, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Evolution Is a Magic Word

Media use the word “evolution” in articles that have nothing to do with it. It’s as if the word has magical powers to conjure up awe.

Evolution, evolution, evolution. The e-word is ubiquitous in science articles and papers, even when the data have nothing to do with evolution as Darwin conceived it. (See the important preface in the 10/02/19 entry to understand what natural selection is and is not.)

In the following examples, look how writers wave the e-word like a magic wand, assuming it has supernatural powers to create any highly-complex and well-designed entity, given enough time. In some cases, the word is used metaphorically. In none of these cases is it used to describe functional innovation by genetic mutations that were preserved by some mysterious “natural selector” somehow.

Evolution tells us we might be the only intelligent life in the universe (The Conversation). “Evolution tells us?” Pray tell, where is evolution’s voice? Is it a he, she, or non-binary sentient force? Where is the podium from which Evolution teaches facts about reality? This weird article by long-time Darwin-lover Nick Longrich (now at University of Bath) comes to a possible conclusion that humans might be the only “intelligent” life in the universe, but of course he doubts it. And Longrich is pretty sure that life is evolving everywhere it can, even if non-intelligent. His fairy story is filled with assumptions that Sir/Madam Evolution has no trouble inventing biological marvels all over the universe (examples below) – except that maybe, though, the god Evolution has a little trouble creating thinking beings. Live Science reposted this article with the modified title, “Humans May Be the Only Intelligent Life in the Universe, If Evolution Has Anything to Say.” That’s a big If.

  • The universe is large, and old, with time and room for intelligence to evolve
  • Could intelligence simply be unlikely to evolve? Unfortunately, we can’t study extraterrestrial life to answer this question. But we can study some 4.5 billion years of Earth’s history, looking at where evolution repeats itself, or doesn’t.
  • Evolution sometimes repeats, with different species independently converging on similar outcomes. If evolution frequently repeats itself, then our evolution might be probable, even inevitable.
  • Other striking cases of convergence include dolphins and extinct ichthyosaurs, which evolved similar shapes to glide through the water, and birds, bats and pterosaurs, which convergently evolved flight.
  • Eyes evolved not just in vertebrates, but in arthropods, octopi, worms and jellyfish. Vertebrates, arthropods, octopi and worms independently invented jaws. Legs evolved convergently in the arthropods, octopi and four kinds of fish (tetrapods, frogfish, skates, mudskippers).
  • The complex, eukaryotic cells that all animals and plants are built from, containing nuclei and mitochondria, evolved only once. Sex evolved just once. Photosynthesis, which increased the energy available to life and produced oxygen, is a one-off. For that matter, so is human-level intelligence.
  • There are places where evolution repeats, and places where it doesn’t.  [See Stuff Happens Law]
  • Humans couldn’t evolve until fish evolved bones that let them crawl onto land [etc].
  • Earth’s history must have allowed intelligent life to evolve, or we wouldn’t be here to ponder it.
  • Intelligence seems to depend on a chain of improbable events. But given the vast number of planets, then like an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of typewriters to write Hamlet, it’s bound to evolve somewhere.

Image credit: Illustra Media, The Case for a Creator.

Regarding the monkey-typewriter myth, Longrich should have listened to the late Dr A.E. Wilder-Smith, who pointed out that the myth depends on the characters being preserved as the monkeys type. If the letters fall off the page soon after they are typed (like chemical reactions in the real world, which are reversible), the apes will never type anything worthwhile, even given infinite time.

Repertoire-wide phylogenetic models of B cell molecular evolution reveal evolutionary signatures of aging and vaccination (PNAS). Evolution is so pervasive and pernicious, it is going on inside of you!

High-affinity antibodies that protect us from infection are produced by B cells through an evolutionary process of mutation and selection during adaptive immune responses. B cell repertoire sequencing combined with phylogenetic methods has provided unprecedented potential to study B cells as an evolving population. However, phylogenetic models operate on individual lineages rather than the thousands of lineages often found in B cell repertoires. Here, we develop an evolutionary framework that incorporates B cell-specific features and combines information across lineages to characterize mutation and selection dynamics of entire repertoires.

Now hold on just a cotton-pickin’ minute. Your body is not evolving, your family is not evolving, and your species is not evolving. We are all Homo sapiens, and what goes on inside of us has no bearing on your offspring (note that they are watching for changes during aging, which means your kids are already grown up). These six Darwinos are using natural selection in a metaphorical sense, but it doesn’t have anything to do with evolution. The fact is, B cells are extremely well designed to hone in on antigens so as to fight them. The last thing they need is Darwinism! If the human body were not designed to intelligently select the shape of potential antigen shapes from a pool of trials, you would die. This has nothing to do with evolution, and the authors should know it. They are confusing the public with such faulty analogies and equivocations, just like Darwin did when he compared artificial selection (intelligent design) to natural selection.

How the earliest mammals thrived alongside dinosaurs (John Pickrell, Nature). Watch how Pickrell, like Longrich, merely assumes that Evolution has magical creative powers. When complex organs appear abruptly, that’s no problem for Evolution. It just means that the wonder-worker was on a roll. He/she/it worked super-fast, producing an explosion of inventions displaying creative genius.

  • An explosion of fossil finds reveals that ancient mammals evolved a wide variety of adaptations allowing them to exploit the skies, rivers and underground lairs.
  • [A mother of fossil young] is a cynodont, a member of the group from which mammals evolved.
  • The discoveries are also starting to reveal the evolutionary origins of many of the key traits of mammals — such as lactation, large brains and superbly keen senses.
  • A raft of extraordinary fossil finds is revealing details of how mammals evolved from reptilian forebears 178 million years ago.
  • “We used to say that during the time of dinosaurs, mammals were totally unspectacular. That they were just these little mousey things scampering around in the shadows,” says Brusatte. But these animals “were undergoing their own evolutionary explosion”, he says.
  • To make that possible, mammals evolved a wide variety of complex teeth for biting and grinding food.

Much of the constellation of features we think of as defining mammals — complex teeth, excellent senses, lactation, small litter size — might actually have evolved before true mammals, and quite quickly. “More and more it looks like it all came out in a very short burst of evolutionary experimentation,” Luo says. By the time mammal-like creatures were roaming around in the Mesozoic, he says, “the lineage has already acquired its modern look and modern biological adaptations”.

Notice the sophoxymoronic phrase “evolutionary experimentation.” If it’s experimentation, it’s not evolutionary, and vice versa. Experimentation presupposes a person with a mind and a goal, intent on learning something or accomplishing a purpose. By definition, Darwinian evolution is aimless and purposeless. Scientists who speak of “experimental evolution” in the lab are using their minds as selectors. They may use random variations, but they determine the criteria for success and pick the winners, just like breeders do.

Mosaic evolution, preadaptation, and the evolution of evolvability in apes (bioRxiv). The author of this preprint, Caroline Parins-Fukuchi, is so drunk on Darwine she sees evolution itself evolving! Hers is not the only paper on “evolvability,” but she applies it to human beings. With this magic trick, evolutionists can speed up or slow down the magic act, allowing them to explain not only why traits evolved quickly in some cases, but also why they did not evolve in other cases. With this magic trick an evolutionist can explain everything – even opposite outcomes. Written in Jargonwocky, the trick sounds almost plausible, with dramatic effect.

Shifts in modularity drove dramatic evolutionary changes across the ape body plan in two distinct ways: 1) an episode of relaxed integration early in hominoid evolution coincided with bursts in evolutionary rate across multiple character suites; 2) the formation of two new trait modules along the branch leading to chimps and humans preceded rapid and dramatic evolutionary shifts in the carpus and pelvis. Changes to the structure of evolutionary mosaicism may correspond to enhanced evolvability that has a ‘preadaptive’ effect by catalyzing later episodes of dramatic morphological remodeling.

Notice that “evolvability” acts like movable axes on a graph. When traits in fossils appear abruptly, the evolutionist can move the axes close together to call it a “burst.” When traits are static, the evolutionist can move the axes apart and call it “relaxed integration.” Evolution is the constant; the rate is the variable, yielding a warped image of nature, not unlike a fun-house mirror.

The use of passive voice is another trick that obscures the sleight-of-mind magic going on. “The formation of two new trait modules” is supposed to mean, “Evolution invented two traits by chance that it knew would be useful later.” The phrase “later episodes of dramatic morphological remodeling” is supposed to mean, “Evolution dramatically remodeled the bodies of apes on their march to humanity.” Evolution is so clever, it can “preadapt” traits to speed up evolution. Is that “dramatic,” or what?

There are so many examples of this form of cheating by evolutionists in the media (i.e., treating “evolution” as an all-purpose magic wand), we’ll have to continue this topic with more examples. For now, understand the point: none of these papers even attempt to show what actual genetic mutations occurred, how many of them were required, and how a blind process (not a “selector” by any meaning of the word) could even care what happened. After you laugh, get mad. This nonsense is the only tolerable narrative allowed in public education in most societies around the world today. And why? Well, D.M.S. said it best in 1929 after the Scopes Trial, “Evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” Evolution is their god, and Darwin is the high priest who brought the knowledge of their god to the peasants. Anyone coming into the tribe with a different Creator must be Expelled!

 

 

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