Greetings this Friday the 13! It is an unlucky day for Darwinism when Dawkins and Darwinism are criticized by the most elite members of the scientific community.
The most elite scientists in the United States are recognized by their membership in the National Academy of Sciences. To date, I’m now aware of 3 members who have expressed some form of serious criticism of Darwinism. The first brave NAS member was Phil Skell (see: Phil Skell Writing for Forbes ). Another NAS member critical of Darwinism is Masotoshi Nei (see: Peer-Reviewed Article Critical of Darwinism by NAS Member, Evolution by Absence of Selection.).
And now with his recent induction into the National Academy, Michael Lynch is the third member I’m aware of to be openly critical of Darwinism. This time Lynch uses the Proceeding of National Academy to lambast the behavior of Darwinists. He delivers the ultimate insult of his colleagues, he likens them to creationists!
His lambasting can be found here in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: The frailty of adaptive hypotheses for the origins of organismal complexity
The article was a gold mine of quotable morsels:
the myth that all of evolution can be explained by adaptation continues to be perpetuated by our continued homage to Darwin’s treatise (6)
in the popular literature. For example, Dawkins’ (7–9) agenda to spread the word on the awesome power of natural selection has been quite successful, but it has come at the expense of reference to any other mechanisms, a view that is in some ways profoundly misleading.
So what does Lynch propose instead of natural selection? The euphemism Lynch uses is the phrase “neutral evolution” which is evolution that occurs in the absence of natural selection. He argues the default mode of evolution should not be evolution by natural selection, but evolution in the absence of natural selection. This has been mathematically and empirically demonstrated through the work of Pagels, Kimural, Jukes, King, Nei, (unwittingly) Haldane, and so many others.
One will rightly object that “neutral evolution” isn’t really a of mechanism for creation of complexity, only a description of the conditions where complexity arose. For example, I could say the Faces on Mount Rushmore or Video Game X-boxes have little reproductive selective value and thus their emergence is subject to “neutral evolution”. Such a description is hardly informative! “Neutral evolution” only states that evolution happened without natural selection but instead by other mechanisms, but it doesn’t give details of what those mechanism were! We can save further discussion of “neutral evolution” for another day. The important thing is that the body of research supporting “neutral evolution” is a devastating mathematical critique of Darwinism!
Most biologists are so convinced that all aspects of biodiversity arise from adaptive processes that virtually no attention is given to the null hypothesis of neutral evolution, despite the availability of methods to do so (32–34). Such religious adherence to the adaptationist paradigm has been criticized as being devoid of intellectual merit (35), ….
You’ll have to read the rest of the paper to see his mathematical take down of Darwinism based on his field of expertise, namely, Population Genetics. Lynch is considered one of the world’s leading population geneticists and no doubt it was for this expertise he was elected to the national academy. I encourage UD visotors to read Lynch’s paper. There are so many other parts of this great paper, but in closing, I’ll highlight this one where lynch likens Darwinists to creationists:
the field of evolution attracts significantly more speculation than the average area of science.….
it is often claimed that ill-defined mechanisms not previously appreciated by evolutionary biologists must be invoked to explain the existence of emergent properties that putatively enhance the long-term success of extant taxa. This stance is not very different from the intelligent-design philosophy of invoking unknown mechanisms to explain biodiversity. Although those who promote the concept of the adaptive evolution of the above features are by no means intelligent-design advocates, the burden of evidence for invoking an all-powerful guiding hand of natural selection should be no less stringent than one would demand of a creationist. If evolutionary science is to move forward, the standards of the field should be set no lower than in any other area of inquiry.
The field of population genetics is technically demanding, and it is well known that most biologists abhor all things mathematical. However, the details do matter in the field of evolutionary biology. As discussed above, many aspects of biology that superficially appear to have adaptive roots almost certainly owe their existence in part to nonadaptive processes.
Buy Lynch’s article can be more succinctly stated by one of his own colleagues who summed up the state of Darwinism: