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Darwin and natura non facit saltus


In his Origin of Species Darwin quoted six times the Latin sentence “natura non facit saltus” (“nature makes no leap”, it is a maxim expressing the idea that natural things and their properties change gradually, in a continuum, rather than suddenly). All the times Darwin used such quote to justify his idea that species arose gradually, by means of small advantageous increments, contra what he called “the theory of Creation” supposed discrete:

As natural selection acts solely by accumulating slight, successive, favorable variations, it can produce no great or sudden modification; it can act only by very short and slow steps. Hence the canon of “Natura non facit saltum,” which every fresh addition to our knowledge tends to make more strictly correct, is on this theory simply intelligible. (chap. XIV)

In a sense, all Darwin’s philosophy of biology is based on such dictum (he even calls it “canon”). Unfortunately, Darwin’s gradualism based on a supposed universal continuity in nature is flawed.

First, continuity is not at all a universal physical law, nor is a fundamental cosmological principle. In the cosmos there is continuity in some phenomena and there is discontinuity in others. There is continuum from certain perspectives and there is discontinuum from others. Perhaps there is only a point of view according to which natura non facit saltus is really true everywhere: in the cosmos nowhere absolute void can exist, nowhere there are true “holes” of nothingness, so to speak. Anyway this particular meaning has nothing to do with biology and what Darwin had in mind. Darwin has no excuse. He couldn’t know quantum mechanics, however he surely knew simple examples of discontinuity: when a continue increasing force is applied to a rope, there is an instant when the rope fractures, and this is a discontinuity; a water drop forms gradually on the orifice of a bibcock, but it falls suddenly only when its weigh reaches a certain threshold value.

Second, origin of species is exactly a field where continuity doesn’t hold. In fact origin of species involves the construction of complex systems and functionalities, and the arise of functionalities appear always in saltus during the process of construction. In general, when we deal with functionality “natura non facit saltus” is untrue. Biology is eminently a field of big functional saltus, exactly as human engineering and technology.

Darwin’s idea that biological functions/organs/apparatuses can arise by small changes each giving an advantage (gradualism) is false and contrary to any evidence. In all fields of engineering an assembly converging to a main function is usually composed of non functional steps. Example: an airplane is assembled in many small steps but the fly function arises only at the end, when the last step is ok. Analogously in organisms all functions work after an assembly of steps giving no advantage. Example, the visual system works only when at least three complex sub-systems work together according to common hardware-software specifications and protocols: a photoreceptor, a brain region decoding the signals and an optical nerve as interface transmitting signals between the two. The assembly of these three sub-systems involves countless phases that individually provide no advantage.

Darwinists cannot point to embryology to help their case. Embryology is another field full of functional discontinuities, which have nothing to do with Darwin’s gradualism. First, embryological development isn’t a Darwinian evolution because is a fully directional process and a teleological result of a long series of morphogenetic signals and pre-programming. Second, all embryological developments indeed show that Darwinian gradualism is nonsense because in such developments, before becoming functional, organs and apparatuses pass through countless non functional, non advantageous steps (exactly as in any assembly of engineering systems). If you put embryos and fetuses in the wild you see that they immediately die indeed because their main systems are rudimental and still don’t work.

Nor Darwinists can point to the growth of the organism from birth to adult state for justifying their functional gradualism, because at birth all systems are already in place, and no new system arises after during the growth until the adult state.

The Darwinian dumb axiom that all bio-systems are functional and give advantages just from the beginning of their developments is pure engineering blasphemy. Organisms are not built from natural selection acting on many small advantageous mutations, exactly because in any construction complex functions arise by saltus. Darwinists should try to prove e.g. that an organism’s apparatus can arise gradually. They could learn the principle of “irreducible complexity”: an IC function has no functional precursors. In the example above of the visual system, it is IC with regard to its three sub-systems. Of course these three sub-systems are just very complex and involve in turn many nested IC sub-sub-systems. IC is a hierarchical concept and can be applied at many levels.

Moreover we have also to consider the correlation of apparatuses, i.e. the integration of all apparatuses in a organized whole. When I hear an evolutionist even say that the human body (the most complex system in the universe) arose by Darwinian RV+NS gradualism I wonder if he ever read a manual on human anatomy, technically describing the giant hierarchy of interrelated parts and functions of the human body (my own manual is 6 books, ~6,000 pages overall). Not only organisms contain countless nested IC systems, these IC systems are integrated in a perfect hierarchical organization, which no Darwinian gradualism can produce.

Darwin was a specialist in non sequitur. One of them is the unsupported huge extrapolation of macroevolution from minimal trivial variations (microevolution). Another was indeed his dreamed “philosophy” of a universal biological continuity erroneously inferred from a Latin sentence that is not a rule without exceptions.

Mahuna I actually think you're correct gradualism is an excellent "no miracle" required cure. Anybody see this recent article that they can make crude oil in 1 hour? I was taught it took millions and millions of years! http://digitaljournal.com/tech/science/algae-converted-to-crude-oil-in-less-than-one-hour/article/365069 Andre
JohnP That's right I have been told a million times I just don't understand evolution and when you ask for help to understand you usually get the following..... "If you want me to help you understand evolution you first need to understand it" yes at least a million times..... Andre
There was a general movement toward Gradualism in all things as it became acceptable to doubt the Bible as being literally true. To accept sudden drastic changes was the same as admitting that miracles happened. And so the Geologists INSISTED that cutting the Grand Canyon MUST have taken hundreds of thousands of years because the alternative was to accept The Flood. And so on. Chaos Theory, among other things, throws out Gradualism and admits that what happens in Nature is long periods of nothing followed by sudden change. Darwinism is probably the last holdout of Gradualism. mahuna
Nature makes no leaps. It takes "SuperNature" to make those leaps. Faster than a speeding bullet too:) ppolish
Y'all just don't understand evolution (especially Andre). :-D johnp
Oldarmy94, I think my tone was sarcastic, apologies if you thought otherwise. Andre
If I could be convinced that “natura non facit saltus” was true, I think I would be a darwinist. Moose Dr
Cue the comment from wd400 that we shouldn't view the organism as a machine or draw analogies from technology . . . ----- niwrad, you mentioned that gradualism was the underpinning for Darwin's entire view of biology. There are a couple of other key quotes from The Origin that help to confirm that. One is his reference to the "plasticity" of organisms (an idea central to his theory, but completely undemonstrated). The other is his statement (notwithstanding he was completely disingenuous in stating it) that his theory "would absolutely break down" if gradualism didn't rule the day (first quote by BA77 above). Also, this thread -- regarding gradualism -- is related to the other recent thread about OOL being part of "evolution." Eric Anderson
So, Andre, how exactly is niwrad confused? Would you care to elaborate? OldArmy94
Alexander Tsiaras, who tried to model what happens in embryological development for humans from conception to birth, commented,,,:
Mathematician Alexander Tsiaras on Human Development: "It's a Mystery, It's Magic, It's Divinity" - March 2012 Excerpt: 'The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us. It's a mystery, it's magic, it's divinity.' http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/03/mathematician_a057741.html Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70
Indeed, as would seem obvious, Darwinists have no evidence that body plan morphogenesis is even reducible to their proposed 'bottom up' Darwinian process:
Not Junk After All—Conclusion - August 29, 2013 Excerpt: Many scientists have pointed out that the relationship between the genome and the organism — the genotype-phenotype mapping — cannot be reduced to a genetic program encoded in DNA sequences. Atlan and Koppel wrote in 1990 that advances in artificial intelligence showed that cellular operations are not controlled by a linear sequence of instructions in DNA but by a “distributed multilayer network” [150]. According to Denton and his co-workers, protein folding appears to involve formal causes that transcend material mechanisms [151], and according to Sternberg this is even more evident at higher levels of the genotype-phenotype mapping [152]. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/junk-dna/open-mike-cornell-obi-conference-chapter-11-not-junk-after-all-conclusion/ Response to John Wise - October 2010 Excerpt: A technique called "saturation mutagenesis"1,2 has been used to produce every possible developmental mutation in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster),3,4,5 roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans),6,7 and zebrafish (Danio rerio),8,9,10 and the same technique is now being applied to mice (Mus musculus).11,12 None of the evidence from these and numerous other studies of developmental mutations supports the neo-Darwinian dogma that DNA mutations can lead to new organs or body plans--because none of the observed developmental mutations benefit the organism. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/10/response_to_john_wise038811.html Understanding Ontogenetic Depth, Part II: Natural Selection Is a Harsh Mistress - Paul Nelson - April 7, 2011 Excerpt: The problem may be summarized as follows: -- There are striking differences in the early (embryonic) development in animals, even within classes and orders. -- Assuming that these animals are descended from a common ancestor, these divergences suggest that early development evolves relatively easily. -- Evolution by natural selection requires heritable variation. -- But heritable variations in early development, in major features such as cleavage patterns, are not observed. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/04/understanding_ontogenetic_dept_1045581.html A Listener's Guide to the Meyer-Marshall Debate: Focus on the Origin of Information Question -Casey Luskin - December 4, 2013 Excerpt: "There is always an observable consequence if a dGRN (developmental gene regulatory network) subcircuit is interrupted. Since these consequences are always catastrophically bad, flexibility is minimal, and since the subcircuits are all interconnected, the whole network partakes of the quality that there is only one way for things to work. And indeed the embryos of each species develop in only one way." - Eric Davidson http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/12/a_listeners_gui079811.html Darwin or Design? - Paul Nelson at Saddleback Church - Nov. 2012 - ontogenetic depth (excellent update) - video Text from one of the Saddleback slides: 1. Animal body plans are built in each generation by a stepwise process, from the fertilized egg to the many cells of the adult. The earliest stages in this process determine what follows. 2. Thus, to change -- that is, to evolve -- any body plan, mutations expressed early in development must occur, be viable, and be stably transmitted to offspring. 3. But such early-acting mutations of global effect are those least likely to be tolerated by the embryo. Losses of structures are the only exception to this otherwise universal generalization about animal development and evolution. Many species will tolerate phenotypic losses if their local (environmental) circumstances are favorable. Hence island or cave fauna often lose (for instance) wings or eyes. http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/7ece8/
Verse and Music:
Psalm 139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Lucie Silvas - Nothing Else Matters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QohUdrgbD2k
"Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), 'If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.' Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It's a mirage. None of it happens that way. - Doug Axe PhD. Nothing In Molecular Biology Is Gradual - Doug Axe PhD. - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5347797/
As to 'top down' anatomy, although not 6,000 pages in detail, here is a brief overview of anatomy so as to provide a small glimpse or the top down organizational complexity required to be explained:
Hierarchy Of The Human Body http://www.wong-sir.com/reading/?p=165
Here are a few videos to help accentuate the insurmountable difficulty that is posed for any proposed 'bottom up' Darwinian explanation:
One Body - animation - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDMLq6eqEM4 Introduction to Cells - Anatomy - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFuEo2ccTPA Human Anatomy - Impressive Transparent Visualization - Fearfully and Wonderfully Made - video http://vimeo.com/26011909
Dr. Meyer elucidates the insurmountable problem for 'bottom up' Darwinists here:
‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does not insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’ - Stephen Meyer - (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate - 2009) Stephen Meyer - Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681
Talbott further clarifies the insurmountable problem for Darwinists here:
HOW BIOLOGISTS LOST SIGHT OF THE MEANING OF LIFE — AND ARE NOW STARING IT IN THE FACE - Stephen L. Talbott - May 2012 Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,, Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling... and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained. The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?” The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary. Two systems biologists, one from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany and one from Harvard Medical School, frame one part of the problem this way: "The human body is formed by trillions of individual cells. These cells work together with remarkable precision, first forming an adult organism out of a single fertilized egg, and then keeping the organism alive and functional for decades. To achieve this precision, one would assume that each individual cell reacts in a reliable, reproducible way to a given input, faithfully executing the required task. However, a growing number of studies investigating cellular processes on the level of single cells revealed large heterogeneity even among genetically identical cells of the same cell type. (Loewer and Lahav 2011)",,, And then we hear that all this meaningful activity is, somehow, meaningless or a product of meaninglessness. This, I believe, is the real issue troubling the majority of the American populace when they are asked about their belief in evolution. They see one thing and then are told, more or less directly, that they are really seeing its denial. Yet no one has ever explained to them how you get meaning from meaninglessness — a difficult enough task once you realize that we cannot articulate any knowledge of the world at all except in the language of meaning.,,, http://www.netfuture.org/2012/May1012_184.html#2
The integrated 'top down' complexity being dealt with in the human body, that Talbott touched upon, defies comprehension by the human mind, much less does it lend itself to any conceivable explanation by 'random' Darwinian processes:
“Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 2012 Excerpt: “This is bad news. Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.”,,, Even with shortcuts like averaging, “any possible technological advance is overwhelmed by the relentless growth of interactions among all components of the system,” Koch said. “It is not feasible to understand evolved organisms by exhaustively cataloging all interactions in a comprehensive, bottom-up manner.” to read more go here: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/08/complexity_brak062961.html
You clearly are as confused as Prof Tour. Just ask Nick.... Andre

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