July 25, 2022 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinspeak: An Excuse for Lazy Thinking

Darwin made it possible to become
an intellectually fool-filled essayist

 

Darwinians have a ready-made excuse for lazy thinking. They can look at anything, no matter how complex and inscrutable, and say, “It evolved.” Job done. Big Science lets the laziness pass through without critique or hard questions by granting the imprimatur of peer review to any paper written in Darwinese. Then, the lazy science reporters know better than to ever question the experts. They don’t want to be canceled under the rules of Darwin Sharia, after all.

A secret language of cells? New cell computations uncovered (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, 25 July 2022).

This is an article that should be about design. It deals with the complexities of brains and nervous systems. It begins, however, with this throw-away line: “Throughout evolution, individual cells have been making successful decisions on their own….” Does evolution make decisions? What is it? Some sort of deity? The article portrays evolved brains as intelligent agents capable of coding their own information:

Throughout evolution, individual cells have been making successful decisions on their own, even while forming parts of vast networks, such as neurons and glia in the human brain. Now scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) … have published a new theory describing a secret language that cells may use for internal dialogue about the external world.

Using a computational model, they hypothesize that metabolic pathways, which are primarily a means of extracting energy and building block molecules from glucose and other substrates to feed the brain, might also be capable of coding details about neuromodulators that stimulate increases in energy consumption. Neuromodulators are chemical messengers that regulate the exchange of information in the brain.

If true, this implies a nearly infinite number of possibilities for information processing in nervous systems and component cell computations. Such a mechanism would also help explain the remarkable energy efficiency of brains.

Such rhetoric is like imagining a computer making itself and writing its own software. What would the Grand Mufti think of that?

Comment: King Charles is more powerful than King Abdullah, because he gets a pass for calling the latter’s brain a product of evolution. Apparently the King of Saudi Arabia has made a KAUSTian bargain with the “experts” at the university and lets them design the New Clothes for his brain. After all, could he endure the shame of being called a “creationist”?

Why is the ocean salty? Why the world’s biggest bodies of water have so much salt. (USA Today, 24 July 2022).

This article is about the ocean, but reporter Clare Mulroy scores points among evolutionists by adding a throw-away line about the remarkable creative powers of salt in the oceans: “Certain fish, sharks, turtles and even penguins have evolved to secrete the salt from the ocean water, which helps them use it for drinking water.”

If this were a law of nature, humans could do it, too. But don’t try it: “NOAA warns humans aren’t meant to drink salt water.” Does evolution mean things? Doesn’t that terminology imply mind and foresight? How exactly were penguins meant to secrete salt from salt water, but humans were not meant to? Maybe evolution only meant it for mermaids.

Sharks are older than the dinosaurs. What’s the secret to their success? (Live Science, 25 July 2022).

Reporter Conor Feehly learned his Stuff Happens Law well in DOPE class. All he has to say is “it evolved” to anything and his work is done. He doesn’t need to think further about it.

Sharks are hardly newbies on our planet. As a group, they have existed for at least 450 million years, surviving four of the “big five” mass extinctions, including the catastrophe that wiped out the nonavian dinosaurs 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period.

For context, that makes sharks older than dinosaurs, which emerged roughly 240 million years ago, and even trees, which evolved on Earth around 390 million years ago.

But one consequence of being an intellectually fool-filled atheist-essayist is that one must believe evolution is unfair. It doesn’t pass out its success equally. Why is that? Is evolution racist or something? Is it colonialist? Is it white supremacist? That’s the beauty of materialistic worldview; one can’t blame chance for whatever stuff happens.

Feehly does encounter a problem when evolution happens too fast, though. He needs to explain a species of skate that reduced its body size by 45% in just 7,000 years.

In evolutionary terms, 7,000 years is a short amount of time, which led scientists to think the winter skates’ rapid change in size was down to an epigenetic response, in which gene expression is altered due to environmental factors, rather than natural selection gradually selecting for smaller individuals.

Study: How placentas evolved in mammals (University at Buffalo, 1 July 2022).

When you see that a “study” has explained something, prepare to be hoodwinked. So how did placentas evolve? Answer: they evolved.

Our ability to ask how the placenta might have functioned at different points during its evolution by using the gene expression profiles of currently existing animals to reconstruct the ancestors is a really cool approach and provides us more information on how changing gene expression can contribute to the evolution of a new trait.” ….

The small subset is one limitation of the analysis: The authors write in eLife that research on a larger number of species is needed to help determine the strength of the findings.

Nevertheless, the study [prepare to be hoodwinked] makes important contributions in understanding how pregnancy evolved, Lynch says. The results could also benefit modern medicine.

“Knowing which genes are active among different species during pregnancy tells us about how evolution works,” he says.

Idea of ice age ‘species pump’ in the Philippines boosted by new way of drawing evolutionary trees  (University of Kansas, 20 July 2022).

Geckos appear smart. With their atomic-force toes, they can climb glass. Their patterned skin gives them camouflage. And with their multiple systems (nervous, circulatory, muscle, reproductive and digestive) they can survive a variety of environments in the Philippines. Why, they must have evolved! Maybe rising and falling sea levels “pumped” them to diversify. (Regarding evolutionary trees, see our 29 June 2022 article, “Darwin’s Tree Chopped Down.”)

It’s been hypothesized that this kind of fragmentation and fusion of land, which happened as sea levels repeatedly fluctuated over the last 4 million years, sets the stage for a special evolutionary process, which may have triggered simultaneous clusters or bursts of speciation in unrelated organisms present at the time.

This new twist from U of Kansas evolutionists is sure to whet the appetite of Darwinians at a meeting next month for the Society for the Study of Evolution. Those guys love the Stuff Happens Law.

“The idea that some barrier could affect unrelated groups like birds, frogs, lizards and insects — possibly impacting whole faunas together at the same time — has been something evolutionary biologists have been grasping at for a long time. But strong support for simultaneous timing of these processes has been kind of elusive,” Brown said. “There are lots of theories about shared mechanisms, and the ‘species pump’ idea is just one of them. But, in general, common mechanisms of diversification, or shared processes of speciation, have always been big, tantalizing topics for evolutionary biologists, especially for biogeographers.”

But really, what’s the problem? Why should this be elusive? What’s to grasp at? Everyone can share the Stuff Happens mechanism. It’s the quickest, easiest way out of having to think hard. Just say, “It evolved.”

Meet Qikiqtania, a fossil fish with the good sense to stay in the water while others ventured onto land (The Conversation, 20 July 2022).

Thomas Stewart of Penn State, a colleague of Neil Shubin, jokes that a fossilized fish found near Shubin’s famous fossil Tiktaalik apparently had the good sense to stay in the water and not evolve into humans. “My colleagues and I think it shows that Qikiqtania had turned back from the water’s edge and evolved to live, once again, off the ground and in open water.” Smart fish. Otherwise, it might have evolved into an intellectually fool-filled atheist. But is Stewart sure about that?

Evolution isn’t a simple, linear process. Although it might seem like early tetrapods were trending inevitably toward life on land, Qikiqtania shows exactly the limitations of such a directional perspective. Evolution didn’t build a ladder towards humans. It’s a complex set of processes that together grow the tangled tree of life. New species form and they diversify. Branches can head off in any number of directions.

The good news is that Stewart understands that the Stuff Happens Law is reducible to chance. The bad news is that Stewart understands that the Stuff Happens Law is reducible to chance. This means that his own brain is also reducible, ultimately, to chance. What are the chances that such an organ can move lips and tongue to say truthful things?

Unmasking Chance

Darwinians since Charley have tried to conceal the chance nature of evolutionary theory, says Intellectual and literary historian Neil Thomas. He writes in Evolution News (19 July 2022); Darwin’s nemesis St. George Mivart quipped that natural selection amounted to “mere fortuity.”

Darwin, smarting from that critique, “adapted a variety of rhetorical strategies that added up to a deliberate campaign to retain chance as a central element while making it appear to most readers that he did not.” Thomas quotes that statement from Curtis Thompson’s book Darwin’s Dice (2015) in support of his point that Darwin and his followers used “the art of concealment” to turn chance into a personified goddess. Giving chance a purposeful identity, a progressive “mechanism,” helped make natural selection more palatable to his Victorian audience.

Thanks to Dr Stewart, the goddess is unmasked. It has no direction. It is not progressive. It is a tangled bush with branches heading off in “any number” of directions. In the absence of mind, the only possible “number of directions” is infinity.

By all means read Neil Thomas’s essay about chance in evolution. He makes it clear from historical references that Darwin and his promoters not only knew that “natural selection” was nothing but chance, but they deliberately engaged in a cover-up to make it seem like a “mechanism.” Victorians liked mechanisms. They didn’t like chance.

After the publication of his excellent book Taking Leave of Darwin (2 Aug 2021), Thomas has been writing a provocative series of articles for Evolution News exposing the  Darwinian revolution as a rhetorical conquest, not a scientific one. Thomas’s status as a literary historian in academia gives him unique insight into the rhetorical tactics of the Darwinians. He is especially good at recognizing that natural selection reduces to chance. After stating that Victorian scientists would never have embraced a chance theory in science, he says under the sub-heading “Darwin’s Desperate Idea”—

The idea that purely random variations lay at the root of a process that subsequently gave rise to design (either real or, as is habitually alleged, “apparent”) was so sharply opposed to mainstream scientific thinking that it is unsurprising that eminent figures such as William Whewell and Sir John Herschel immediately rejected the idea of chance playing any causative role. Darwin therefore knew that he would have an uphill battle to convince people of the key role chance played in his theory, a fear amply confirmed by reviews of the first edition of his Origin of Species in late 1859. His British nemesis, St. George Mivart, and many others now proceeded to criticize Darwin’s dependence on what Mivart termed “mere fortuity.”1

How then could Darwin get an idea offensive to accepted scientific tenets under the wire and into the safe space of public acceptance or at least acquiescence? Desperate, or perhaps more accurately, cunning measures seemed to be called for, as Curtis Johnson makes clear in an exceptionally close look at Darwin’s private notebooks and letters on the subject of chance. These writings reveal that Darwin — once bitten, twice shy, so to speak — became now increasingly concerned to “massage” his material rather than lay it out in a neutral and disinterested way for all subsequent editions of the Origin (of which there were five). Collectively, Darwin’s modifications to the way he presented his material were in effect to become part of an activist campaign in the interests of promoting his ideas.

It worked, didn’t it? As the above articles show, today’s mainstream evolutionary biologists have no problem attributing anything and everything to pure chance. Stuff Happens is now a law of science.


Exercise: Get out of Yale free!

Try your hand at unmasking evolutionary rhetoric. A press release from Yale University (18 July 2022) claims, “Plant study hints evolution may be predictable.

Is that true, or does the evidence show that the Darwinians are trying to sneak purposeful direction into the Stuff Happens Law? (Notice in the title that the study “hints” that evolution “may” be predictable—hedging their bets by raising the perhapsimaybecouldness index.)

Notice their initial embarrassment about chance:

Evolution has long been viewed as a rather random process, with the traits of species shaped by chance mutations and environmental events — and therefore largely unpredictable.

But…”

Look for the flaw in their reasoning, which concerns a case of convergent evolution in leaf shape. Is there a different mechanism at work other than Darwinism? And if they claim natural selection is directional or predictable, which way is it going?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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