September 30, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Archive: Does Group Dynamics Trump Natural Selection?

Two of our articles from 2003 are reproduced here,
showing we have been in this work for a long time.


Biological Networks: Does Group Dynamics Trump Natural Selection?   09/29/2003
There seems to be a move among biologists to diminish the role of natural selection in biological evolution. A press release from Arizona State University, for instance, attributes the complexity of insect societies to network dynamics. The complexity is an “emergent property” of social interactions, not natural selection acting on the genes.

This is Jennifer Fewell’s contention in a paper on insect social order published in the Sept 26 issue of Science1, part of a special section on Networks in Biology2 (see also next headline). Other papers in the series discuss protein networks, nerve networks, and metabolic networks within this apparently new paradigm of self-organization that emerges apart from natural selection acting on genetic mutations. In the introductory paper, “Life and the Art of Networks,“2 Jasny and Ray explain that biologists are moving beyond compiling a “parts list” and trying to understand the larger picture of how components interact in complex processes. They ask, “One assumes that biological regulatory networks are the result of crafting by natural selection. But are they?”

1Jennifer H. Fewell, “Social Insect Networks,” Science doi 10.1126/science.1088945, 301:5641 (26 Sep 2003), pp. 1864-1870.
2Barbara R. Jasny and L. Bryan Ray, “Life and the Art of Networks,” Science 301:5641 (26 Sep 2003), p. 1863.

Let’s try to get this reasoning straight. They use analogies such as the Internet, electronic circuits and electric power grids as networks. So studying the Internet (built by intelligent design), circuitry (built by intelligent design) and the electric power grid (built by intelligent design, more or less) can help us understand how ant colonies, brains, metabolic pathways, cell cycle regulation, gene expression, protein complexes and human behavior all “emerged” by time and chance.

Sounds like evolutionists are admitting that natural selection is just too weak to explain what they see. There’s more and more talk about natural selection being just one facet of evolution. Some point to gene duplication and other genetic mechanisms as being significant – maybe even more so – but self-organization seems to be the leading fad now (see “A new kind of science,” 08/18/2003, reproduced below.*)  Is Charlie becoming a has-been?

While evolutionists rush to jump on the new bandwagon of self-organization, they fail to notice it has flat tires and no driver. The existence of biological networks presupposes design, just as much as the Internet presupposes skillfully designed computers and routers and infrastructure. Once designed, network components can become adaptive and interact in many complex ways their designers may not have even anticipated. Rocks, by contrast, do not form networks. They fail to even get off the ground.

Darwin’s God Is a Tinkering Master Engineer   09/26/2003
Moses, Elijah and Ezra would be shocked.  Idolatry has again invaded the land of Israel. U. Alon, a molecular cell biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, has written a Viewpoint piece for Science Magazine’s 09/26/2003 special on Biological Networks, entitled “The Tinkerer as an Engineer.”1 Dr. Alon has no need of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise Creator of all.  To him, “evolution” achieves masterful design just by cobbling parts:

Francois Jacob pictured evolution as a tinkerer, not an engineer [Science 196:1161 (1977)]. Engineers and tinkerers arrive at their solutions by very different routes. Rather than planning structures in advance and drawing up blueprints (as an engineer would), evolution as a tinkerer works with odds and ends, assembling interactions until they are good enough to work. It is therefore wondrous that the solutions found by evolution have much in common with good engineering design. This Viewpoint comments on recent advances in understanding biological networks using concepts from engineering.

Biological networks exhibit good engineering design, he explains, by their modularity, robustness to component tolerances, and the use of recurring circuit elements. He describes molecular biology as reverse-engineering on a grand scale. In conclusion, Alon says, “The similarity between the creations of tinkerer and engineer also raises a fundamental scientific challenge: understanding the laws of nature that unite evolved and designed systems.”
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)

1U. Alon, “Biological Networks: The Tinkerer as an Engineer,” Science 301:5641 09/26/2003, pp. 1866-1867.

This has to be one of the worst examples of evolutionary idolatry in recent months. Many evolutionists have used the “tinkerer” concept to personify evolution, but Alon takes the cake. And in the land of Israel, no less. Could Baal worship have been any worse? Stop playing word games with us, Darwinists: either make little idols of Mother Nature and sell them, or quit the illogical, misleading, nonsensical, blasphemous verbiage. It makes you sound like you are already stoned.

*Complexity from Simplicity: A New Kind of Science?   08/18/2003
In this week’s issue, Science News takes a critical look at Stephen Wolfram, the alleged genius who wrote A New Kind of Science.  That book has generated quite a stir among scientists, and has amassed a loyal fan club. Wolfram, author of the popular software Mathematica, got a PhD from Caltech at age 20. Though critics cannot dismiss him as a crackpot, many dislike his self-promotional style, and others deny the validity of his claims that “I have discovered vastly more than I ever thought possible, and in fact what I have now done touches almost every existing area of science, and quite a bit besides.”

His theory of self-organization, similar to fractal theory, revolves around the properties of cellular automata, which are simple programs that generate complex output. A small rule in an algorithm can have unexpected effects far exceeding what could have been predicted. “Wolfram has spun off a lot of exhilarating ideas about where this new approach can lead,” reports Science News.  “For example, rather than needing Darwinian evolution to explain the complexity of living creatures.”

Passing fad, or “the closest thing to Newton in 350 years”? We agree with Ray Kurzweil that “Wolfram seriously overstated the complexity that simple programs produce. On the topic of living organisms, for instance, Kurzweil asserts that unless factors beyond simple rules are invoked, one can’t explain ‘insects or humans or Chopin preludes.’”

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