Critiques of Darwinism
- Hits: 11689 11689
How’s this for a theory of evolution?
Every detail of how living creatures develop from egg to adult is specified in their genes. Like all complex organic molecules, the genes are subject to random damage over time (mutation). In just a few generations enough damage will accummulate to drive a species to extinction. That would be slowed a little if some of the worst-damaged creatures failed to survive long enough to reproduce and pass on their genes (natural selection).
Does this make sense as a mechanism for evolution? I don’t think so.
How did such a silly theory become so popular? Because at the heart of it is a supernatural being, the Beneficial Mutation. The cause of evolutionary change, Darwinists claim, is the preferential selection of Beneficial Mutations. But these are mythical creatures, like unicorns. They can only be supposed to exist after the fact. You can't identify such mutations earlier, when they occur, because you can't tell which mutations will be benefical until after the change has taken place. A mutation enhancing salt tolerance will have been beneficial in elephants if they become marine mammals, otherwise not.
How frequent are these supposed beneficial mutations, and how efficient is the selection process? Here are estimates from the bible of modern darwinism, Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, by Julian Huxley, published in 1942. On page 465: "...observed fact that the great majority of mutations are deleterious." Let's translate that as saying 90% of mutations are deleterious. For the efficiency of natural selection Huxley nowhere quotes a figure higher than 1%. So for each 90 deleterious mutations passing through natural selection 89 will slip through, along with no more than ten that are neutral or beneficial. Harmful mutations will multiply far faster than beneficial mutations, leading rapidly to extinction.
Why isn't that obvious to everyone? Because the myth of Beneficial Mutations comes dressed up in statistics that applies the principle behind compound interest to only Beneficial Mutations but not to actual mutations. It's as if for each $100 you pour each month into a business you end up with only $10, and you measure your success by considering only how that $10 will grow while ignoring how much faster you're plunging into debt.
The tradition behind this theory didn’t look so silly when Charles Darwin originated it in the 1830’s. This was the widely-celebrated heyday of the technology of livestock breeding, when our major breeds of cattle were developed. It wasn’t unreasonable to suppose that, given enough time, the rigors of life in the wild could select for more-adaptive characteristics just as breeders could, in just a few generations, select for bulk or milk production. Darwin:
Can we wonder, then, that Nature’s productions should be far ‘truer’ in character than man’s productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship?
By the time of Darwin’s death, though, it was apparent that no new characteristics had emerged in these cattle. Once natural selection had arrived at a uniform optimum set of characteristics, where would new variation come from? With no answer apparent, Darwinism began to look silly and by century end was virtually abandoned. So it remained until mutation was proposed as the missing source of variation and the combination was hailed as The Modern Synthesis, taking its name from Huxley's book.