Robert F. Shedinger is a Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and author of The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms: Darwinian Biology’s Grand Narrative of Triumph and the Subversion of Religion.
The textbook consistently side-steps the problem of the initial stages of variation. That is, if an orchid developed a slightly longer corolla, how could a hawk moth pollinate it if the hawk moth had not yet developed the slightly longer tongue necessary? What was the initial stage of variation that set this coevolutionary process in motion? This problem appears in many different parts of the textbook, most prominently when discussing major transitions in evolutionary history. In these discussions, Hall and Hallgrimsson set aside science and engage in the telling of fairy tales worthy of Hans Christian Andersen.
For example we are told, “The change from unicellularity to multicellularity occurred a number of times, giving rise to different lineages of organisms.” But what drove this transition? There must be advantages to multicellularity that would be preserved by natural selection. A multicellular organism’s food gathering surface, we are told, increases which ensures a more stable food supply and the ability to attack and digest larger particles of food. This would be accompanied by an increase in gene numbers and regulatory pathways.
But if by chance some ancient unicellular organism mutated in such a way that its offspring became multicellular, and these multicellular offspring were perpetuated by natural selection due to the advantages they enjoy over their unicellular parents, they would have eventually replaced their unicellular ancestors and the world today would be awash only in multicellular organisms. But as anyone who has battled a bacterial infection knows, unicellular organisms continue today as perhaps the most successful organisms on the face of the planet. Multicellularity somehow evolved, but it does not seem to be because multicellularity confers a clear selective advantage. After all, most multicellular organisms have gone extinct.Robert F. Shedinger, “The Fairy Tale World of an Evolution Textbook” at Evolution News and Science Today
Questions need not be answered if the people who ask them can be identified as suspicious elements and canceled.
The evolution textbook for public high school and first-year college that we really need for today would be a grand project for a person with the courage and connections. But be warned: The ability of both the author and publisher to withstand hundreds of trolls with degrees, advertised and unadvertised boycotts, and teacher union activism—to bring students up to date with what has changed—is a serious requirement indeed.