Natural Selection was pioneered by the creationist Blyth, and Darwin later plagiarized Blyth’s work and published his own corrupt variation of Blyth’s ideas. (See: Was Blyth the True Scientist and Darwin merely a plagiarist and charlatan).
Blyth asserted that survival of the healthier individuals in a population was a mechanism of preserving a species (not originating them). Darwin, erroneously claimed Natural Selection was the mechanism of originating species and Dawkins in the present day vigorously insists selection is the mechanism for the appearance of design.
I have no problem asserting selection is a mechanism for preserving species as Blyth proposed. However, expanding on Darwin’s ideas, Dawkins’ insistence that selection creates machines in biology is suspect at best.
When is selection merely an outcome versus a real mechanism of innovation? Suppose a genetic engineer used John Sanford’s gene gun to create a selectively favored strain of grass. What if this strain of grass overtook other species in the wild? In that case, selection favored the fittest strain, but in no way does this imply that selection was the mechanism that created the innovation in that strain of grass!
Hence, merely because selection is seen to favor a feature in no way implies that selection was the mechanism of creation of that feature. To say so is to make a non-sequitur claim, but this obvious non-sequitur claim is a staple of evolutionary biology: “It’s selectively favored, therefore it evolved via selection.” NONSENSE! It’s such bad nonsense even atheists are taking Darwinists to task for their non-sequiturs and sloppy language: What Darwin Got Wrong.
Let’s suppose even without an Intelligent Designer there are naturalistic mechanisms whereby biological novelty can emerge. An example could be the bacterial intelligence suggested by James Shapiro. The mechanism of change is the bacteria re-engineering itself. The fact that selection favors an improvement doesn’t in any way mean selection was the mechanism for improvement. Suppose some mystery naturalistic mechanism was responsible for the Cambrian explosion? Merely because selection favored the innovations, doesn’t mean selection was the mechanism. [And as I pointed out, Spencer’s notion of “survival of the fittest” actually fails on many levels. See: Death of the Fittest.]
Even Dawkins acknowledges there are other schools of evolutionary thought that are not Darwinian:
It is hard to comprehend now but, in the early years of this century when the phenomenon of mutation was first named, it was not regarded as a necessary part of Darwinian theory but an alternative theory of evolution!
At best, evidence of selection happening is only proof of selection favoring an existing trait, it doesn’t prove that selection is the mechanism that made that trait (as Dawkins claims). As someone put it, the problem isn’t survival of the fittest, but rather arrival of the fittest.
Selection as a mechanism of change is likely a false claim for certain biological features — for example a wing. As Gould famously said, “what good is half a wing.” In fact, half a wing is a liability, and would have been selectively disfavored. Even better examples would be vital organs like the heart. How does an artery on one side of a primitive heart evolve to be on the other side in a more advanced heart without killing the transitionals? I’m sure several such examples could be found if someone is willing to look. Behe did just that when he seized Gould’s argument and recast it in the book Darwin’s Black Box.
It is fair to say that with respect to man-made genetic algorithms used in engineering, selection clearly is the mechanism for arriving at solutions and selection is not merely an outcome (as in biology). Elizabeth Liddle (like Dawkins) claims selection in the wild works like an engineer’s mind where ideas are conceived, mutated, tinkered and sorted in an engineer’s brain or experimental workshop.
But the problem with that analogy is that half-formed, partially formed, ill-formed (and yet-to-be corrected) designs in an engineer’s mind or workshop happily exist until completion. Half-formed, partially formed, ill-formed (and yet-to-be corrected) designs in the wild would be dead or disfavored. Hence, in the wild selection will actually thwart innovation, not foster it! As Alan Orr said, selection does not trade in the currency of design, it often destroys design. [sorry to pick on Elizabeth, but she made a point which I think needs to be challenged].
The problem is evolutionary biologists equivocate selection as a mechanism (as in man-made affairs) with selection as merely an outcome (as happens in the wild). The contrast of man-made trial and error methods versus what happens in the wild would be a good subject of another thread, but the point is, for biology, selection is falsely deemed a mechanism of innovation when in reality it is merely a description of an outcome. The fact of selection being an outcome in the wild is falsely used to assert selection is also a mechanism of innovation.
1. the notion of survival of the fittest has been falsified on many levels, but I use it in this essay as a working hypothesis. See:
Death of the Fittest.
2. From Was Blyth the True Scientist and Darwin merely a plagiarist and charlatan
Sir Gavin DeBeer describes Darwin:
The boy [Darwin] developed very slowly: he was given, when small, to inventing gratuitous fibs and to daydreaming
Lies-and the thrills derived from lies-were for him indistinguishable from the delights of natural history
For some reason DeBeer’s description of Darwin’s character seems to remind me of Darwin’s evolutionary theory with its abundant use of equivocation and non-sequiturs and fabricated data.
[posted by scordova to assist the News desk with extra content until 7/7/13]