Evolution Intelligent Design

Why are we trying to “demonstrate” microevolution?

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Daphnia obtusa Kurz/University of South Carolina

From Science Daily:

A new study shows that larger eye size is the source of a sizable reproductive advantage for a tiny freshwater crustacean, Daphnia obtusa. The research provides hard data for eye microevolution that, until now, were lacking.

Huh? Hard data were lacking, for something as obvious as microevolution? It gets better:

The focus of the research team was a tiny freshwater crustacean, Daphnia obtusa Kurz. Just 1 to 2 millimeters long, Daphnia would be hard to spot except for one distinguishing feature: its black eye, which is large for its body size.

“A big eye is costly to maintain, because any kind of neurological tissue, including retinal tissue, is energetically demanding relative to other kinds of tissue,” Dudycha says. “And we also know there are organisms, like blind cave fish, that once had eyes and have moved into environments without any light at all, and they lose their eyes, which wouldn’t happen unless there was a cost to having an eye. So if there is a cost to keep having eyes, there needs to be some kind of benefit, and we were wondering if we could measure that benefit.”

Maybe.

The correlation was clear: an increase in eye diameter of 20 micrometers, which is about one standard deviation of the mean diameter, translated into about one more egg beyond the average of about six.

More.

Sure, but ecologies can change, such that large eyes, or any eyes at all might not be such a benefit. Life is a history, not a theory. As we say here, stay tuned,

More generally, doesn’t everyone take microevolution for granted? It’s not clear that it is even a “thing,” that is, something to think about …

In a constantly changing world, it must occur. But when does it make much difference in the long run?

Remember Darwin’s finches’ beaks? The famous changes that were supposed to add up to a new species every two hundred years turned out to be caused by hybridization. They tended to reverse themselves when the ecology altered. We should regard such changes and changes back as normal within a species.

Yes, Darwin’s “fittest” survive (that’s a tautology; it’s simply what “fittest” means). But if the conditions that make a given life form more fit than others are constantly changing, the fittest may be least likely to undergo an irreversible evolution in one direction, not the most likely to do so.

Question: Has microevolution via Darwinism (natural selection acting on random mutation) ever been shown to result in complex, co-ordinated changes across a number of systems in an organism, changes that result in major new capabilities? Let’s hear a demonstrated example.

No, macroevolution is asserted, not demonstrated. Because, as Richard Dawkins said, Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. (p. 287, Blind Watchmaker, 1986).

As it happens, that is no longer true. A number of non-Darwinian mechanisms can account for significant change.

Law prof Phillip Johnson, as so often, has it right about why Bimbette’s vast TV audience “believes in” “evolution” (Darwin-style):

To make the story look better, the National Academy of Sciences improved on some the facts in its 1998 booklet on “Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science.” This version of the story omits the beaks’ return to normal and encourages teachers to speculate that a “new species of finch” might arise in 200 years if the initial trend towards increased beak size continued indefinitely. When our leading scientists have to resort to the sort of distortion that would land a stock promoter in court, you know they are having trouble fitting their evidence to the theory they want to support.

Or, rendered in the vernacular, shuddup, cringe, and listen to Bimbette. And many will. A few continue to subscribe to critical thinking.

Here’s the abstract:

Several studies of eye morphology have analysed macroevolutionary patterns in the diversity of eyes, and although these studies are often linked to environment or behaviour, they provide only indirect evidence of selection. Specific data to show the microevolutionary potential for adaptation by natural selection in eye morphology have been lacking. We document directional selection on eye size, an important determinant of visual capabilities, in a wild population of the freshwater microcrustacean Daphnia. We show that even slight changes in eye size may have major consequences for fitness. An increase in eye diameter of 19.9 μm – slightly more than one standard deviation – is associated with an increase in clutch size of one egg, or an increase of nearly 20% of the mean clutch size. Furthermore, relative eye size is genetically variable and thus could evolve in response to the observed selective pressure. We conclude that selection on incremental variation in eye size may have led to differences observed on broader taxonomic scales. (paywall) – C. S. Brandon, T. James, J. L. Dudycha. Selection on incremental variation of eye size in a wild population of Daphnia. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2015; 28 (11): 2112 DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12711

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35 Replies to “Why are we trying to “demonstrate” microevolution?

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    The research provides hard data for eye microevolution that, until now, were lacking.

    I think this answers the question posed in the title. Even “obvious” claims ultimately have to be supported by evidence.

  2. 2
    Zachriel says:

    News: But when does it make much difference in the long run?

    The study shows it makes a lot of difference to the crustacean being studied.

    News: Yes, Darwin’s “fittest” survive (that’s a tautology; it’s simply what “fittest” means).

    What they showed wasn’t tautological. They showed that reproductive success was related to the size of the eye.

  3. 3
    harry says:

    In Darwin’s day it was already known from the work of dog breeders that there could be wild variety within a given kind, and that some versions of a given kind could be so different from other versions of the same kind that they could no longer successfully mate. Changing beak sizes and shapes in Darwin’s finches, or some versions of finches no longer being able to mate with another version, didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know.

    Dog breeding had demonstrated that there were limits to those wild varieties that ended variation somewhere before dogs became cats or horses or anything other than a dog. This is because the information required to build something other than a dog just isn’t present in the canine genome. A wild variety of dogs are present, but nothing else. A loss of information sometimes renders one version of a given kind no longer able to fruitfully mate with another version of the same kind, which is often confused with speciation when it occurs naturally. It isn’t that at all, because it is the result of a loss of information, not the result of mindlessly, accidentally arrived at new information.

    All of this is true of Darwin’s finches. If one can get dogs ranging from Great Danes to Chihuahuas to bulldogs, what was the significance of finch beaks changing in size and shape, or one version of finch no longer being able to successfully mate with another? That demonstrated nothing about the possibility of one kind becoming another kind. It demonstrated nothing about how finches came to be in the first place. What it demonstrated was the genius of the designer of the finch genome, in that He had built into it an adaptability to changing environments.

    The genome of a given kind is filled with much extremely precise, digital information which may include information that allows for some amount of adaptability to changing environments. Where environmental changes exceed that adaptability, extinction begins.

    Consider an imaginary universe consisting of letters where “life” is an instance of a coherent arrangement of some of those letters.

    Mindless, accidental alterations to the extremely precise information that instantiates a given kind is as likely to produce new and beneficial functionality as are mindless, accidental alterations to the text of a short story likely to produce a full length novel — which is to say there is no way that a given kind is ever going to accidentally become a higher, more complex life form. Everyone knows that precise information subject to mindless, accidental modifications quickly becomes gibberish.

    Natural selection just isn’t going to change that basic fact. Again using our short story as an example, if there occasionally were accidental, mindless modification to the text of a short story that actually made sense, that would be so rare that that occasionally happening could not counter the overall effect of mindless modifications to precise information — which is to reduce it to gibberish.

    This remains true even if the version of the short story accidentally enhanced in a minor way could somehow be saved or “selected.” To see this, build a simple “life form” in our imaginary universe by writing a few coherent paragraphs. Then make 20 mindless, thoughtless, purposeless modifications to it, each consisting of one changed character or one additional character. It has become less coherent. Now make a thoughtful one-character correction to it that tends to restore its intelligibility — this is the rare, luckily advantageous modification to the life form. Now save your document and repeat the process on the saved version. Continue doing this until you get bored. You will ultimately end up with gibberish, not Gone With the Wind or any other lengthy, coherent document.

    Contemporary, unquestioning acceptance of mindless, purposeless, accidental evolution as an explanation for the various life forms we find today is not due to the fact that that notion makes sense; it is due to the fact that the atheistic “powers that be” want desperately to believe it, and have successfully indoctrinated others with that absurd notion.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    I think this proves that eyes can evolve by microevolution.

    Darwin can now rest easy.

  5. 5
    Zachriel says:

    harry: Mindless, accidental alterations to the extremely precise information that instantiates a given kind is as likely to produce new and beneficial functionality as are mindless, accidental alterations to the text of a short story likely to produce a full length novel

    Actually, given mutation, recombination, and a suitable selection criterion, then yes, long texts can evolve.

  6. 6
    harry says:

    Zachriel @5,

    Actually, given mutation, recombination, and a suitable selection criterion, then yes, long texts can evolve.

    At least that is what you desperately want to believe.

  7. 7
    Zachriel says:

    harry: At least that is what you desperately want to believe.

    To demonstrate that, we would have to show stepwise pathways leading from short texts to long texts. Do you not think that is possible? How about from short words to long words even?

  8. 8
    J-Mac says:

    harry,

    This is one of the best summaries of the Darwinian beliefs I’ve read in a long time.

  9. 9
    J-Mac says:

    harry,

    Zachriel, and other Darwinists, not only want to believe that evolution of coherent words or sentences is possible by mindless processes. They have no choice because the obvious alternative would mean the total failure of their calculated belief system leading to the disastrous consequences of accountability to an ID.

  10. 10
    Zachriel says:

    J-Mac: not only want to believe that evolution of coherent words or sentences is possible by mindless processes.

    Harry’s claim was broader than that. He was stating there was no stepwise pathway from short texts to long texts. ETA: See here:

    harry: Again using our short story as an example, if there occasionally were accidental, mindless modification to the text of a short story that actually made sense, that would be so rare that that occasionally happening could not counter the overall effect of mindless modifications to precise information — which is to reduce it to gibberish.

    The “making sense” implies a selection criteria based on the comprehensibility of the text. The question, then, is whether there is a stepwise path from short texts to long texts.

    ETA: Here’s a simple example starting with the one-letter word “O”.

    o, or, ore, wore, word, ward, war, ear, hear, dear, deal, ideal, idea

  11. 11
    harry says:

    Zachriel @7,

    Continuing with the text analogy: There are a virtually infinite number of ways to arrange the letters of the alphabet that are meaningless gibberish. Relative to that, there are an infinitesimally small number of ways to arrange the letters of the alphabet coherently.

    The basic point is that without a thoughtful, strategic guiding principle (which isn’t going to come about in the absence of an intellect) it is impossible for mindless, pointless modifications to coherent information, even if occasionally a modification actually enhances its intelligibility in some small way, to enhance or increase the intelligibility of that information overall. This means that, ultimately, it is impossible for a series of mindless, accidental modifications to the information in a life form’s genome to bring about anything other than degradation of that information — even if, as I pointed out above, the occasionally beneficial modifications can be saved or “selected.”

  12. 12
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: Actually, given mutation, recombination, and a suitable selection criterion, then yes, long texts can evolve… Harry’s claim was broader than that. He was stating there was no stepwise pathway from short texts to long texts.

    He provided a specification for the process, amounting to one positive mutation for every 20 negative ones. Can you generate Gone with the Wind from a “short story” using that process? Go ahead and demonstrate it.

  13. 13
    Zachriel says:

    harry: There are a virtually infinite number of ways to arrange the letters of the alphabet that are meaningless gibberish.

    Finite, but large.

    harry: The basic point is that without a thoughtful, strategic guiding principle (which isn’t going to come about in the absence of an intellect) it is impossible for mindless, pointless modifications to coherent information, even if occasionally a modification actually enhances its intelligibility in some small way, to enhance or increase the intelligibility of that information overall.

    Obviously, the selection criteria has to include intelligibility, otherwise, it won’t find intelligible function. The question was whether there were stepwise pathways.

    If you reject intelligibility as a selection criterion, then obviously it will never evolve intelligibility. But that shows that your analogy is faulty as evolutionary theory posits selection for relevant function.

  14. 14
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: He provided a specification for the process, amounting to one positive mutation for every 20 negative ones.

    The negative mutations will be deselected, so they can be ignored. What matters is whether there are stepwise pathways from short to long texts.

  15. 15
    harry says:

    Zachriel@13,

    Obviously, the selection criteria has to include intelligibility, otherwise, it won’t find intelligible function. The question was whether there were stepwise pathways.

    If you reject intelligibility as a selection criterion, then obviously it will never evolve intelligibility. But that shows that your analogy is faulty as evolutionary theory posits selection for relevant function.

    Evolutionary theory posits the virtually impossible. Given mindless, purposeless, accidental modifications, there are no stepwise pathways. Selection of extremely rare advantageous modifications cannot overcome the effects of the rest of the overwhelmingly destructive modifications. Natural selection of mindless, accidental modifications just doesn’t work. This has been known for a long time. Familiarize yourself with the Wistar Institute Symposium held in Philadelphia in April 1966.

  16. 16
    Zachriel says:

    harry: Given mindless, purposeless, accidental modifications, there are no stepwise pathways.

    That’s what we thought you said.

    Evolutionary biologists say the jaw of a reptile evolved into mammalian ossicles, an irreducibly complex structure. Are you saying there is no possible selectable stepwise pathway?

    Per your analogy, are you saying there is no intelligible stepwise pathway from short texts to long texts?

  17. 17
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: The negative mutations will be deselected, so they can be ignored. What matters is whether there are stepwise pathways from short to long texts.

    What matters is whether there are verifiable step-wise pathways given a specified process.

  18. 18
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: What matters is whether there are verifiable step-wise pathways given a specified process.

    In the text analogy, that would be populations undergoing mutation and recombination. The following transition is based on single-letter mutations, with each in the sequence being a perfectly spelled word.

    o, or, ore, wore, ware, war, ear, dear, deal, ideal

    Notice how meaning changes with each substitution, an example of exaptation.

  19. 19
    harry says:

    Zachriel @ 18,

    Your remarks make a better case for the silliness of evolutionary theory than any ID advocate ever could. Keep up the good work.

  20. 20
    Zachriel says:

    harry: Your remarks make a better case for the silliness of evolutionary theory than any ID advocate ever could.

    Just trying to determine whether your claims will withstand scrutiny or are even subject to testing. Notably, you didn’t attempt to answer the questions.

  21. 21
    harry says:

    My “claims” are statements of what is already the universal experience of all humanity:

    — That a series of mindless, accidental modifications to functional information will destroy the functionality or intelligibility of that information, even if occasionally there appears in the series of accidental modifications one that tends to restore intelligibility — even if that version of the information is saved or “selected.”

    — That technology, especially nanotechnology, does not come about mindlessly and accidentally. Life has turned out to be ultra-sophisticated, digital information-based nanotechnology. The very definition of technology in most dictionaries is expressed in terms of the application of knowledge for a purpose. The fact that life has been found to be digital information-based nanotechnology speaks volumes to all but hardened atheists.

    Your assertions are those of laughable, desperate sophistry that refuses to even consider the ramifications of obvious realities.

    Again, keep up the good work.

  22. 22
    Sebestyen says:

    o, or, ore, wore, ware, war, ear, dear, deal, ideal

    Notice how meaning changes with each substitution, an example of exaptation.

    Great, now make “Subdermatoglyphic”. Remember that you can’t have intermediate words without meaning.

    Sebestyen

  23. 23
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein,

    Your example has nothing to do with Harry’s specification @3.

  24. 24
    Zachriel says:

    harry: My “claims” are statements of what is already the universal experience of all humanity

    Until recent history, the universal experience of all humanity was that the Earth is flat, and that there are no empty spaces in solid matter.

    Sebestyen: Great, now make “Subdermatoglyphic”.

    Remember, evolution doesn’t have a goal, so given the entire dictionary, word evolution may find some 17-letter words, but not others.

    mike1962: Your example has nothing to do with Harry’s specification @3.

    harry @3: using our short story as an example, if there occasionally were accidental, mindless modification to the text of a short story that actually made sense, that would be so rare that that occasionally happening could not counter the overall effect of mindless modifications to precise information — which is to reduce it to gibberish.

    The being reduced to gibberish makes little sense, of course, because there is a ratchet involved. If a mutation leads to gibberish, that lineage won’t persist, but the non-mutated offspring would continue the original line. Keep in mind that with evolution, we’re talking about a population of short stories, and modifications that include not only mutation, but recombination.

  25. 25
    harry says:

    Zachriel @ 24,

    Until recent history, the universal experience of all humanity was that the Earth is flat, and that there are no empty spaces in solid matter.

    Well, for a very long time, from humanity’s perspective the Earth looked flat and humanity had no compelling evidence that the space taken up by solid matter had a lot of emptiness within it. Circles looked round and humanity assumed they were. The sky looked blue and humanity assumed it was. And it was from our perspective anyway. Objects looked like they were really there, exterior to one’s mind and not just figments of one’s imagination, and humanity assumed that was the case. Humanity, in assuming things were really as they appeared to be, was right most of the time. That assumption served them well. Not that the appearance of things revealed everything there was to be known about them; humanity knew that as well. The better one could observe something, the more of what could be known about the thing would be revealed.

    A trivial example of this: “I see someone approaching us.” A little later: “It is a man.” And still later: “It is Uncle Bob.”

    What can be known about something depends upon the capacity of the instruments used to observe it and upon our perspective. One might observe crop circles from a hilltop that can’t be seen from below. Not having the right perspective was the case with humanity thinking the Earth was flat. (Although many had figured out that it was round long before that became common knowledge. Pythagorus, born 571 B.C., is reputed to have been the first.)

    With our microscopes and telescopes we, of course, can observe things like never before. So we have found out that sometimes the appearance of things is illusory. But we assume, when we see what wasn’t able to be seen before, that what we now see really reveals at least some of the reality of the thing being observed. That is all humanity has ever done, until now, when atheists began to claim that what is obviously true according to our best observation is false, and claim that that for which there is no evidence at all, is true.

    When I say, “My ‘claims’ are statements of what is already the universal experience of all humanity,” putting the word claims in sneer quotes, it should be apparent that I am referring to your statement:

    Just trying to determine whether your claims will withstand scrutiny or are even subject to testing.

    It is a universally known fact that precise information being repeatedly mindlessly altered will destroy that information. It is a universally known fact that technology does not come about mindlessly and accidentally; the word “technology” is defined as the application of knowledge for a purpose. So I wasn’t making a “claim,” which is making an assertion that something is the case without providing evidence or proof of it being the case. One doesn’t have to “claim” to be true that which everybody already knows is true. Making counterintuitive claims — counter to what is universally known to be true according to humanity’s uniform experience — is what desperate atheists do, their desperation being very understandable.

    It is precisely you, devout atheist that you are, who is making wild claims that do not withstand scrutiny, nor are subject to testing.

    Life aside, because it is the subject being debated: There are no known instances of significant functional complexity that came about mindlessly and accidentally. Yet you claim life, the most functionally complex phenomenon known to us, did indeed come about mindlessly and accidentally, and do so without providing even one instance of significant functional complexity coming about mindlessly and accidentally. And you make this claim in spite of the fact that life has been found to consist of ultra-sophisticated, digital information-based nanotechnology, which, by the very definition of technology, does not come about mindlessly and accidentally. Now that is making a claim that does not withstand scrutiny and is not subject to testing.

    Your claim is based only upon your irrational hope that God isn’t there and nothing else.

  26. 26
    Axel says:

    Not quite rue, is it? Sailors had long observed ships ‘sinking’ beneath horizon after horizon, and drew the obvious inference. Pity the cartographers seem to have been kept in the dark.

  27. 27
    Axel says:

    Dawkins’ fabled gift for nonsense is perhaps nowhere* as clearly displayed as in his concession that everything in the natural world gives the impression of having been designed, but…. but…..

    It has the rare distinction, perhaps unique, of being an assertion and, by implication, a denial of the same assertion, at the same time. Clearly, the burden of proof in the teeth of universal experience, lies with the proponent of the wholly unsupported, utterly phantasmagorical conjecture.

    *Well, perhaps, his ‘blind watchmaker’ is a worthy rival.

  28. 28
    Mung says:

    Axel: Sailors had long observed ships ‘sinking’ beneath horizon after horizon, and drew the obvious inference.

    Ships get heavier the further away they get?

  29. 29
    Sebestyen says:

    Remember, evolution doesn’t have a goal, so given the entire dictionary, word evolution may find some 17-letter words, but not others.

    I can assure you that “word evolution” like you presented wouldn’t even find one 12-letter word and in sum not even 1/3 of all english words…

    Sebestyen

  30. 30
    harry says:

    Axel @ 26,

    Yes. I have wondered about that too, as well as why the clues provided by the phases of the moon didn’t cause more people to consider the possibility that there was something else going on besides the Earth standing still and everything else revolving around it.

    Humanity having finally figured these things out is kind of like a detective looking back over all the clues that enabled him to solve the case, and thinking to himself, “It should have been obvious,” but, of course, it wasn’t. The meaning of clues seem obvious once we know the meaning of the clues. ;o)

  31. 31
    Zachriel says:

    harry: Well, for a very long time, from humanity’s perspective the Earth looked flat

    Well, lumpy anyway. Flatness was the first-order approximation of the pattern.

    harry: It is a universally known fact that precise information being repeatedly mindlessly altered will destroy that information.

    Actually, it’s not universally known, as biologists consider evolution a counterexample.

    harry: One doesn’t have to “claim” to be true that which everybody already knows is true.

    Of course it’s a claim, just like the universally known fact that the world is flat is a claim. And it is a claim about the natural world, meaning it is subject to scientific investigation.

    harry: And you make this claim in spite of the fact that life has been found to consist of ultra-sophisticated, digital information-based nanotechnology, which, by the very definition of technology, does not come about mindlessly and accidentally.

    Elaborating your claim with adjectives doesn’t make an argument.

  32. 32
    Virgil Cain says:

    Evolutionary biologists say the jaw of a reptile evolved into mammalian ossicles, an irreducibly complex structure.

    And when they figure out how to test that claim they will be doing science. Until then all they have are opinions and speculations.

    Are you saying there is no possible selectable stepwise pathway?

    No one has found any evidence for one, especially on a genetic level.

  33. 33
    harry says:

    Zachriel @ 31,

    Actually, it’s not universally known, as biologists consider evolution a counterexample.

    It is universally known, as the biologists who consider evolution a counterexample have not demonstrated, and don’t know any way to demonstrate the truth of the absurdity they posit. Positing that Gone With the Wind could be arrived at mindlessly and accidentally is not knowing that is possible, although that happening is far more likely than life being mindlessly and accidentally arrived at, or an optical system mindlessly and accidentally coming about in one.

    For the record, why don’t you list ten known examples of significant functional complexity coming about mindlessly and accidentally? You can’t use life itself, as doing so would be a logical fallacy, since it is the subject of the debate.

  34. 34
    Zachriel says:

    harry: It is universally known, as the biologists who consider evolution a counterexample have not demonstrated, and don’t know any way to demonstrate the truth of the absurdity they posit.

    The vast majority of biologists reject your contention. Hence — even if they’re wrong —, it’s not universally known.

    harry: For the record, why don’t you list ten known examples of significant functional complexity coming about mindlessly and accidentally?

    Evolution has an “accidental” component, but isn’t accidental.

  35. 35
    harry says:

    Zachriel @ 34,

    Keep up the good work!

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