June 27, 2022 | David F. Coppedge

Just Do the Science, Please

It is totally unnecessary and unhelpful to toss the
e-word “evolved” into lab reports. Kick the habit.


A team of biologists at the University of Bonn ran some legitimate lab experiments. They wanted to measure the biting force of insects, realizing that there was almost no data about it. They built a device to measure the force. They calibrated it. They packed it into a car, and took it out into the field. They measured the biting forces of various insects, like the praying mantis, which you can see biting the device in a video clip. The field work required solving some problems along the way.

For stinging insects, the researchers use a holder made of plastic. The animals disappear completely in the vial, with only the head with its mouthparts protrudes from a small hole in the front. Rühr: “This allows us to better position the insects without having to hold them in our hands.” Usually, the animals do not need much persuasion before they bite. They feel uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment and fight back with defensive bites. If this instinctive behavior fails to materialize, the researchers stroke the insect heads with a delicate brush – at the latest then the insects will close their jaws.

Research With a Bite… and a Stinger

This was yeoman’s work for scientists. They took their data home and published it in the journal “Methods in Ecology and Evolution” on June 22. But wait… what’s evolution got to do with it? And why did the lead researcher, doctoral student Peter T. Rühr feel compelled to credit evolution?

“With their sensor system “forceX”, the researchers want to investigate how the mandibles, musculature and head shape of insects have evolved to meet the challenges of their respective environments.”

This makes no sense. Insects lack higher brains; they could not care less if they live or die. They have no foresight. They have no power to summon chance mutations that might give their bite a “selective advantage” in competition. And even if they did, it wouldn’t help them survive. It would only help their offspring bite harder, IF the lucky mutation got into the gametes.

Besides, evolution by random mutation and selection cannot “evolve to” do anything. Any chance benefit must have immediate effect in the gametes on the next generation, or else it is lost. Offspring do not inherit acquired characteristics like Lamarck thought.

It’s a silly story. Like the late National Academy of Sciences member Phil Skell quipped, it’s an “interesting narrative gloss” tacked onto the report after the real scientific work was done. It serves no scientific purpose. It’s illogical, involves a misunderstanding of Darwinism, and misleads the reader. Why mention it?

Fish Story

Rachel Morgan, meanwhile, fell into the e-word habit while studying zebrafish at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The press release claims, “A cushy lab life has its evolutionary costs — when it comes to fish, that is.” But why is it an evolutionary cost, and not just a cost? Are high gas prices an evolutionary cost to Americans? Is inflation an evolutionary cost? Such things hinder some people’s ability to survive, but Darwinism has nothing to do with it; politics does. Zebrafish don’t form political parties, but if they enter tough circumstances, the environment has no power to make them invent a solution.

All those years of domestication — 150 generations of zebrafish, by one biologist’s count — led a team of researchers to realize they had a perfect evolutionary experiment.

Why an evolutionary experiment? Why not just an experiment? Nothing evolved! The resulting zebrafish are still zebrafish, members of the same species. In the wild, the fish have phenotypic plasticity—some limited ability to survive different temperatures due to built-in genetic regulations. That’s a good design feature for robustness. But that is not evolution as Darwin envisioned it. The fish don’t grow wings or new organs; they remain zebrafish. No useful information is added by saying that the work “has given researchers another interesting piece of information about evolution.”

Fredrik Jutfelt, the senior author of the paper, said the study also shows how two populations have adapted to the environments they are in through evolution.

Evolution had nothing to do with it. The fish already had the ability to survive different conditions. They are still zebrafish. Nothing evolved! Just state the facts, please.

For the Birds

Ah, Darwin’s finches. Evolutionists just cannot let go of that icon. Researchers at McGill University reported on June 8 that the finches can fly the equivalent of 30 soccer fields on their daily commutes. That’s intelligent design! Defying gravity for any distance with powered flight requires a multitude of highly efficient body organs (see Flight: The Genius of Birds).

Why even mention evolution at all? Nothing the scientists measured showed the birds growing new organs or abilities. But here comes the Darwin worship service:

Nearly 150 years after Darwin‘s death, his famous finches continue to spark the interest of scientists. The species has been inextricably linked to the British naturalist ever since he outlined his theory of natural selection nearly 150 years ago, after visiting the Galapagos Islands and witnessing its extraordinary biodiversity. Darwin’s finches are currently one of the most-studied organisms on the planet. Thanks to them we know how rapid evolutionary changes can occur and how the exchange of genetic material between different populations can spur the emergence of new species.

But that is false! All the finch varieties are members of the same genus, and they only differ in the size of the beak and feather coloration. Even young-earth creationists accept that much variation. They are all interfertile and can hybridize, which means no speciation has occurred. Different varieties have sorted out pre-existing traits to specialize on different food sources, but they are finches from the same mainland stock. Success in feeding ebbs and flows as weather conditions change, giving some beak sizes the edge in drought conditions and smaller beaked varieties the edge in wet conditions.

The Darwin finch story is a myth, an example of “zombie science” that keeps rising from the dead after it has been debunked. Why not focus on the remarkable flight ability of these wonderful birds?

The only lab work by the McGill team showed that social behaviors observed among the birds “may have been inherited from their continental ancestors.” If so, that is not evolution, either; it is stasis of a complex behavior that has remained true to form over thousands of generations. What does that take? To have genetic information replicated that many times and still work is remarkable, exceeding the powers of human engineers. That takes intelligent design, not evolution.

The late Jack T. Chick, a Christian illustrator, had some fun with the iconic progression, pointing out flaws in the interpretation.

Darwinists, we know your love your Daddy. Please, though, grow up. Kick the habit. Just the facts, please.


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