Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Metamorphosis – the design of life evident in new Illustra film

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butterfly image
Monarch, courtesy Biodiversity Canada

Justice at last, for the majestic Monarch. A new Illustra film chronicles North America’s remarkable butterfly in defense of the design of life. Preview here. David Klinghoffer notes from preview (ENV, May 18, 2011):



butterfly image
Viceroy, courtesy Biodiversity Canada

In Act II, we follow a particular butterfly, the Monarch, on its journey to a volcanic mountain lodging site in Mexico for the winter, accomplished each year despite the fact that no single, living Monarch was among the cohort that made the trip the year before. Only distant relations — grandparents, great-grandparents — did so. Given the brief life cycle of the insect, those elders are all dead. The Monarch follows the lead of an ingenious internal mapping and guidance system dependent on making calculations of the angle of the rising sun and on magnetic tugs from ferrous metal in the target mountain range.

Experts explain and comment, including CSC fellow and philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, Biologic Institute developmental biologist Ann Gauger, and University of Florida zoologist Thomas Emmel. The film argues that neither metamorphosis nor migration is the kind of feature with which blindly groping Darwinian natural selection could ever equip a creature. How could an unguided step-by-step process build metamorphosis, inherently an all-or-nothing proposition? As Dr. Gauger points, once the caterpillar has entered the chrysalis, there’s no going back. It must emerge either as a fully formed butterfly or the soupy remains of a dead caterpillar.

Alfred Russel Wallace was hardly the last person to dismiss Darwinism as an explanation for butterflies.

(Note: There is a subplot about the striking resemblance between the Monarch (Danaus) and the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), from a different genus, interbreeding with a cluster of similars that don’t look like Monarchs at all: “All of our [Canadian] species hybridize to some extent because they are so closely related. Some of these hybrid forms have been given varietal names.” So long, Darwin.

7 Replies to “Metamorphosis – the design of life evident in new Illustra film

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    And it’s not just butterflies.

    To me, this has to be one of the most interesting problems in biology.

    Amphibian Metamorphosis: From Morphology to Molecular Biology

    The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story

    Many biological facts are irreconcilable with the assumption that larvae and adults evolved from the same genetic stock. The author of this book draws attention to these, and presents his alternative hypothesis that larvae have been transferred from one taxon to another.

    In his previous book (Larvae and Evolution, 1992), the author used larval transfer to explain developmental anomalies in eight animal phyla. In the present book, he claims that the basic forms of all larvae and all embryos have been transferred from foreign taxa. This leads to a new, comprehensive theory on the origin of embryos and larvae, replacing the discredited ‘recapitulation’ theory of Haeckel (1866). Metamorphosis, previously unexplained, represents a change in taxon during development.

    The Origins of Larvae


    The author traveled to Africa to see firsthand the effects of sleeping sickness and river blindness. He learned from physicians and researchers that the parasites that wreak so much havoc are much more than the simple degenerates we’ve taken them for. Their complex adaptations to their environments–us–are as lovely and awe-inspiring as any eye or wing. The examples of hormonal and other behavioral control of hosts, causing changes in feeding habits and other life essentials, are chilling when personalized. Zimmer knows his subject well, and his writing, while robust and affecting, never descends to the all-too-easy gross-out. You wouldn’t expect to find respect for a tapeworm, but Parasite Rex will show you how beautiful Earth’s truly dominant life forms are.

    I’m going to run right out and buy that one.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    MedsRex says:

    Mung @1,
    Great more utterly fascinating books I have to buy. Lol. The enigma of larval to adult metamorphosis is wonderfully baffling. And has been off my radar for too long. Thanks for the links.
    Hat tip: Franz Kafka

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Hehe. I know, so many rabbit trails.

    I think I have a couple books on the subject which are now in storage, but I could not remember the title(s).

    It’s going to be difficult not to add one or more of these to my library even though this topic isn’t even anywhere near the top of my current interests.

    Should I add you to my list of people to donate my library to upon my death, lol?

    And then there was this one:

    This is just fascinating stuff.

    But I really am trying to wean myself away from the “oh, look how complex this is, Darwinism can’t possibly explain it” mindset into more positive and substantive arguments for ID.

    If I had to guess, the video which is the topic of the OP will fall right into that “golly gee” category.

    Why does the butterfly show evidence for design. That’s my question. Does it somehow mirror something we’ve seen in human design?

  5. 5
    MedsRex says:

    no you dont have to put me in your will…just let me know if, you have a garage sale. I will drive days to get first crack.
    I think i’m still a little bit in the “shucks thats awesome” category right now. Pretty new to all this. my “intellectual” history before consisted of Sartre, Foucault, Camus, Buber, Wittgenstein, . . .etc. Basically philosophy with some forays into theology and sociology. I always thought science was on NOVA and for smart people like Hawkings and Gould. I was never atheist per se, but held a fairly secularist existential pantheist quasi-mystical lukewarm Christian world view (lol, its more common than you might think). And I never really questioned Darwinistic thought. But once I got wind of G. Gonzales, Meyers and company things drastically changed. (in addition to the spiritual rebirth I was having by the Grace of God).
    So ya give me a minute to catch up. 😉

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Grace of God. Absolutely.

    Brings me to my knees anytime.

    God bless.

    Can you even imagine what it would take for God to reach out and convince someone who was already convinced that they were saved that they needed salvation?

    Why me, LORD? Thank you.

    I envy you your intellectual history, lol! What a lineup.

    I think philosophy is still very important.

    But me to you on a very personal level. I think you once spoke of Torah observance in response to a post I made concerning my “Jewishness.”

    I don’t think I can give any advice better than that offered by the Apostle Paul:

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


    For the true Jew is not the man who is simply a Jew outwardly, and true circumcision is not that which is outward and bodily.

  7. 7
    MedsRex says:

    I really REALLY appreciate that lost bit of advice. It strikes home and also gives me an even greater sense of kinship. I guess when I was taking about being more Torah observant it was said in a sense as a necessity…it was more like a father day’s card from an uttetly grateful and awed son to his Father. But those verses are eye opening.
    I thank you for your kind words. Its true Philosophy IS vital (despite what Hawking and Myers might say) but my willful ignorance in the realm of science was pretty inexcusable.
    Well I’m off to get dressed and officiate my first wedding.
    God Bless.
    Back to ID talk.

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