Evolution Is Not a Person
Ascribing thoughts and purposes to evolution is a logical fallacy.
At its core, natural selection has no foresight or direction.
Evolution-based papers and articles in the media continuing personifying evolution. Darwin himself committed the fallacy. It should have been extricated from evolution narratives a long time ago, yet it continues.
Biologists cannot look at the fit of an organism to its environment and reason that the organism “evolved to” get to that point. Nor can they portray organisms as users of evolution, because that would personify the animal as a mental being intentionally reaching for a tool and employing it for a purpose.
If biologists said more honestly that “stuff happens” and organisms ended up the way they are, no trained scientist would accept that as a scientific explanation. Yet the personification fallacy goes on, and on, and on, because it titillates the imagination.
How evolution overshot the optimum bone structure in hopping rodents (University of Michigan, 17 Oct 2022). Here is the first example of the fallacy in the U Mich press release:
It appears that once evolution set jerboa bones on the path toward fusing together, they overshot the optimum amount of fusing—the structure that best dissipated stresses from jumping and landing—to become fully bonded.
A robotics professor should be aware of how only minds can create functions. But Talia Moore commits the fallacy, too, combining it with a higher perhapsimaybecouldness index:
“Evolution hit an advantageous point of partially fused geometry, but then evolutionary momentum may have continued to completely fuse the metatarsals. Because the fully fused bones are still sufficient to keep from breaking, there was likely no evolutionary pressure to stop fusing.”
If an organism has a trait, the storytellers claim that “evolutionary pressure” drove it to “evolve” the trait. But there is no such thing as evolutionary pressure. It is a false force. It has no units, no observable characteristics, and it cannot be measured by any instrument. It is an after-the-fact rationalization.
There is also no such thing as “evolutionary momentum.” Natural selection, if it even could be called a “mechanism,” is not a vector. It has no measurable magnitude or direction. It is incapable of inertia, because it operates like Brownian motion on a drunken sailor’s walk. Evolution has no foresight. It can only conceivably affect the immediate circumstances of an individual lucky enough to get an extremely rare “beneficial” accident. But if that mutation doesn’t affect the offspring, it’s game over when the individual dies.
Why did T. rex have such tiny arms? (Live Science, 17 Oct 2022). Observing and trying to explain the tiny arms of Tyrannosaurus rex is a legitimate biological exercise, but saying ‘evolution did it’ doesn’t help. Evolution is not a person with a mind trying to accomplish something for a reason.
JoAnna Wendel tries to mind-meld with the dinosaur to figure out “why T. rex evolved stubby arms.” Quoting previous studies, she comes up with several possibilities but no answer:
- T. rex evolved small arms so they wouldn’t bite each other’s arms off when they fed.
- Perhaps they evolved the little limbs to avoid accidental arm-ripping as a throng of theropods descended on a tackled Triceratops.
- In the evolution of theropods, “the arms didn’t really get shorter, but the legs got longer.”
- As tyrannosaurs and their theropod cousins evolved larger heads and a bipedal posture, they used their forelimbs less. They started to use their heads more for catching and killing prey. As a result, the forelimbs didn’t grow as much as the rest of their bodies did, according to this idea.
She catches on in the end that the best explanation is the trusty Stuff Happens Law:
It’s tempting to assume that every trait an animal possesses has some kind of evolutionary role in helping the creature survive. But sometimes traits just appear (or disappear) that don’t necessarily confer a clear-cut evolutionary benefit.
Even so, she still is personifying evolution as a role-player and a judge of benefits. Why talk of an evolutionary benefit, and not just a benefit?
Sparkling waters: Tiny Caribbean crustaceans and their bioluminescent mating displays are shining new light on evolution (Science, 25 Aug 2022). An infographic in the article commits the fallacy by saying, “Bioluminescent ostracods have evolved compound eyes and a specialized organ that produces the molecules they use to generate light.” The word “evolved” serves no purpose. The writer could just say, “ostracods have compound eyes and a specialized organ” and so forth.
Metabolism as a screenwriter in the female–male coevolutionary play (PNAS, 14 Sept 2022). In this paper, Paul Carazo personifies Mr Metabolism as the screenwriter, and casts Ms Evolution as the heroine. “Namely, seed beetle species subject to high resource competition evolved slow metabolic rates and POLS [pace of life syndromes], while species subject to low resource competition evolved fast metabolic rates and POLS. ”
Changes in the tree canopy facilitated the evolution of the first-ever gliding reptile, new study suggests (Taylor & Francis, 9 Sept 2022). Here the environment is pictured as a facilitator and evolution as an enabler.
Mathematical model of animal growth shows life is defined by biology, not physics (Monash University via Phys.org, 19 Aug 2022). Evolution is not a clumsy tinkerer. She is adept!
“Despite the fact that living organisms cannot break the laws of physics, evolution has shown itself to be extraordinarily adept at finding loopholes,” said lead study author Professor Craig White, from the Monash University School of Biological Sciences, and the Center for Geometric Biology.
How Electric Fish Were Able to Evolve Electric Organs (University of Texas News, 1 June 2022). To evolve or not to evolve, that is the question. With help from Tinker Bell evolution, electric fish “were able to evolve electric organs,” this reporter says. How, exactly? Because “small genetic changes enabled electric fish to evolve electric organs.” They couldn’t have accomplished this without evolution’s enablement.
Look at all the red-colored instances of “evolution” in these links. Darwinian researchers and writers of press releases seem to believe that repeating the word often enough will drill it into reader’s heads.
If evolutionists didn’t have just-so stories, they would have no story at all.