Evolutionary explanations to resist —
For ease of conversation, I here define a “threat” as a macro-evolutionary explanation that inherently threatens the successful communication of the biotic message. (I do not mean threat in any other sense.) Evolutionary explanations are not all equal. Some are more potent at explaining-away data; some are limited in scope; some are weak; and some are unscientific. In other words, some evolutionary explanations are more threatening than others.
There is some tension between the three design-goals claimed in Message Theory, so tradeoffs must be made in order to approach an optimal solution. Message Theory claims life’s design should resist a given evolutionary explanation in proportion to the threat it poses. If a given evolutionary explanation poses more threat, then Message Theory predicts it should weigh more prominently in the design tradeoffs. The more threatening an evolutionary explanation, the more vigorously the designer should resist that evolutionary explanation.
Take the loss explanation: the idea that a lifeform lost a trait. Loss is a degenerative, de-evolutionary process, so macro-evolution will not get far with it. For example, the useless eyes of blind cave fishes were always astonishingly poor evidence for the evolutionists. The loss explanation is not very threatening.
Or take the idea that fitness is caused by speed, as in the cheetah. That general explanation is easily defeated, as in the sloth. The ‘speed’ explanation is not very threatening.
Message Theory predicts life will resist (macro)evolutionary explanations, especially those that are most threatening. So it behooves us to identify those:
- Common descent (also known as descent with modification) — This is comprised of various sub-explanations, including: loss, replacement, evolution within a lineage (known as anagenesis), splitting or branching of a lineage (known as speciation or cladogenesis), plus fads and fashions such as orthogenesis, canalization, pedomorphosis,and countless others. Radically different patterns can be “explained,” depending on the blend or recipe that evolutionists choose to invoke. Common descent does not actually predict a hierarchical or nested pattern; rather it is compatible with a wide variety of patterns. Also, contrary to received opinion, common descent is not the most threatening explanation on the evolutionists’ smorgasbord. That honor goes to Transposition, followed by Atavism.
- Transposition among the fossil-bearing (multicellular) lifeforms — The idea that a biological trait is transposed (copied or moved) from one species into another species; not from ancestor to descendant. A primitive version was proposed by the ancient Greeks. Modern versions incorporate specific mechanisms such as lateral DNA transfer, and lateral gene transfer, (and endosymbiosis). These explanations are vigorously pursued by a substantial faction of evolutionists who hold conferences and publish books and proceedings. Michael Syvanen is a leading member of this group. Evolutionists seek it because it would dramatically explain-away their severe problems with the fossil record. Transposition would also create a pattern radically different from common descent.
- Atavism (also known as a genetic throwback) — This is a masking-unmasking process, where a genetic trait gets masked, so the trait remains within the genome but unexpressed in the phenotype – invisible. Later, this trait gets unmasked and the trait suddenly appears (or re-appears). (These would act like powerful genetic libraries, waiting to be re-used when needed.) Atavism was embraced by Darwin and by modern evolutionists too. Stephen Jay Gould embraced an example in his book, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes. The “Hen’s Teeth” was supposedly an example of a genetic throwback (but has since been debunked). Atavism operates within the boundaries of common descent, while Transposition would cross outside the boundaries of common descent. Transposition would jump traits horizontally, between lineages, while Atavism would jump traits vertically, across time. In principle, the pattern produced by Atavism could sometimes mimic a pattern produced by Transposition.
- Lamarckian inheritance — the genetic inheritance of the use-and-disuse of body parts. This would be a powerful evolutionary explanation. It was embraced many decades prior to Darwin, and Darwin himself embraced it increasingly in his later editions and letters, (though this fact is seldom advertised). It is still promoted today by a few evolutionists. [Note: This is different from the recent demonstrations of epigenetics where some traits acquired in life are transmitted to the next generation — but not permanently to all subsequent generations, because this mechanism is not genetic. It is temporary. If anything, this mechanism will confound natural selection, not aid it.]
- It came from Space! — The idea that life came from Space was proposed by notable evolutionists Francis Crick, Leslie Orgel, Fred Hoyle, and many others. This ties-in with the idea of extraterrestrial life, exobiology, ancient astronauts, and SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).
- The naturalistic origin of life (and multiple instances thereof) — including such ideas as spontaneous generation, self-assembly, and biochemical predestination.
- Data incompleteness — The fact that observers never possess all the data. Darwinians are notorious for invoking the so-called “incompleteness of the fossil record.”
- Natural selection as an explanation of large-scale transformation — Even prior to Darwin, creationists embraced an idea like natural selection (survival of the fittest) to explain the maintenance of healthy populations. (That is why the Darwin-Wallace papers on natural selection caused little reaction when first published at the Linnean Society.) Message Theory embraces natural selection and biological variation (often called microevolution) to any extent it can be experimentally demonstrated, however, that is a different issue from large-scale transformation, where the extrapolation of natural selection theory is confronted with serious scientific obstacles.
These are the most threatening macro-evolutionary explanations, (let me know if I missed any), and therefore Message Theory predicts these should be the ones most resisted in life’s design. Even before getting into details, perhaps you already notice nature resisting each of these explanations.
Pause now and think, to see if you can design it better. Do this thought-experiment: Design a system of life (with its various specific patterns) to resist the above evolutionary explanations, yet also pursue the other design goals too. I claim life is well designed to accomplish this.
— Walter ReMine
The Biotic Message — the book