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Evolution: Right now, we are between grand theories.

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Over at the Intelligent Design Facebook page, in response to this post and the ensuing discussion, a commenter suggests,

But you propably agree that Darwin’s theory has a lot of evidence behind it, thought not all evidence prove all his points, and Shapiro’s studies are eroding one or two of Darwin’s thesies, the theory of evolution still holds, if somewhat modified.

Well, see, that’s just the trouble.

What exactly is the modified theory of evolution to which the commenter refers?
Shapiro’s? I think Shapiro has done valuable work, and would be happy if he would offer a guest post here, stating his specific theory of evolution. Then we could at least consider to what extent available evidence supports it.

Does the commenter mean, however, an unspecified theory that incorporates some of Darwinism? But what parts?

We can be pretty sure, from experience, that Darwinists will try to stuff the whole dam hog in, whereas I want to get rid of schoolbook examples that sound convincing but have not stood the test of time. Even if that makes Darwinism sound much less convincing. It isn’t very convincing, when honestly presented, and no one can help that.

Right now, we are between grand theories. We have a grand theory that doesn’t really work, and a number of new theories that are hard to test in the current climate. Darwin’s tenured fossils have deep leather chairs and a vested interest in suppressing competitors.

It’s nothing new. In business, it is called a racket.

Sal Cordova just noted the latest results from a 50,000 generation bacteria study*:

Our results are a clear example of the myopic nature of evolution: a loss of environmental sensitivity in a constant environment is adaptive in the short term, but maladaptive should the environment change. – from the Abstract

ID theorist Mike Behe comments on Lenski’s recent study,

Lenski is an optimistic man, and always accentuates the positive. In the paper on mutT and mutY, the stress is on how the bacterium has improved with the second mutation. Heavily unemphasized is the ominous fact that one loss of function mutation is “improved” by another loss of function mutation — by degrading a second gene. Anyone who is interested in long-term evolution should see this as a baleful portent for any theory of evolution that relies exclusively on blind, undirected processes.

In short, the bacteria improved fitness by losing, not gaining, functions.

Darwinian evolution’s value is seen as its ability to explain gains in function via natural selection. Not losses. If all it can explain is losses, it isn’t an important theory.

Meanwhile, other research suggests that evolution is not myopic, that it does have foresight or something of the kind, in which case it is not Darwinian evolution—and no amount of bafflegab will make it so.

Perhaps the commenter at ID Facebook page sees the problem, and perhaps he doesn’t. But here it is: One can only assent to a clearly worded proposition that one thinks correct.

Neo-Darwinism is a clearly worded proposition that now appears mostly wrong. The needed successor is a clearly worded proposition that one can think correct. – O’Leary for News

* Earlier misidentified as Lenski’s.

6 Replies to “Evolution: Right now, we are between grand theories.

  1. 1
    JoeCoder says:

    Sal Cordova just noted Lenski’s latest results from the 50,000 generation bacteria study: “… myopic nature of evolution …”

    The abstract of that paper says “Here, we show that signaling network function carries a fitness cost in yeast evolving in a constant environment.” So it’s not Lenski’s bacteria and I think you have the studies mixed up? Result is still applicable though.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Thanks, JoeCoder, the problem is that one can’t actually get in through the link without a password, so there was no quick check available. Two studies then? My.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    News says:

    Thanks, Ian Thompson, added. – O’Leary for News

  5. 5
    JoeCoder says:

    More correction still needed, since yeast aren’t bacteria. And that study wasn’t for 50,000 generations either. As they write, “Each population was evolved for 448 generations”.

    We’ll get there eventually 😛

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    News:

    What exactly is the modified theory of evolution to which the commenter refers?

    It depends.

    As long as the neo-Darwinian “accumulation of random mutations by natural selection” aka “it just happened that’s all” can be used it will be used. But when that becomes absurd there is a veritable smorgasbord of ad hoc rationalizations available to the “modern evolutionary theorist.”

    And their unifying element, the thing that makes them all “cohere,” is that it wasn’t real design, not the kind that comes from intelligence anyways, in spite of Darwin’s faux pas in using artificial selection as his analogy for natural selection.

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