Richard Lenski’s lab is supposed to demonstrate Darwinian evolution over endless generations of bacteria:
The new paper now reports on 2,500 generations of further evolution of the citrate mutant, in nutrient media that contains either citrate alone or citrate plus glucose (as for earlier generations). As always with the Lenski lab, the research is well and thoroughly done. But the resulting E. coli is one sick puppy. Inside the paper they report that “The spectrum of mutations identified in evolved clones was dominated by structural variation, including insertions, deletions, and mobile element transpositions.” All of those are exceedingly likely to break or degrade genes. Dozens more genes were lost. The citrate mutant tossed genetic information with mindless abandon for short term advantage.
In a particularly telling result, the authors “serendipitously discovered evidence of substantial cell death in cultures of a Cit+ clone sampled from … the LTEE at 50,000 generations.” In other words, those initial random “beneficial” citrate mutations that had been seized on by natural selection tens of thousands of generations earlier had led to a death spiral. The death rate of the ancestor of the LTEE was ~10 percent; after 33,000 generations it was ~30 percent; after 50,000, ~40 percent. For the newer set of experiments, the death rate varied for different strains of cells in different media, but exceeded 50 percent for some cell lines in a citrate-only environment. Indeed, the authors identified a number of mutations — again, almost certainly degradative ones — in genes for fatty acid metabolism that, they write with admirable detachment, “suggest adaptation to scavenging on dead and dying cells.”
The degraded E. coli was eating its dead.
Lessons to Draw
Let me emphasize: the only result from the decades-long, 50,000-plus generation E. coli evolution experiment that even seemed at first blush like it had a bit of potential to yield a novel pathway in the bacterium has resulted instead in spectacular devolution.Michael Behe, “Citrate Death Spiral” at Evolution News and Science Today
Paper. (open access)
Yes, of course that’s true. But it no longer matters. As science devolves into myth, the popular narrative prevails over the correct one. The popular narrative is easier to teach because it fits in better with prevailing opinion.
See also: Darwin Devolves Much “evolution” is about breaking or blunting complex equipment in order to arrive at a simple solution for survival.
Has anyone here heard the proverb “Silks and satins put out the kitchen fire”? Think about what it means.
17 Replies to “Michael Behe on how the new Lenski paper demonstrates a key problem with Darwinism”
The good news is that Darwin really ISN’T the popular narrative. Polls consistently show about 40% of people go with creation, 30% with natural selection, 30% with some kind of ‘guided creation’ or ID.
Remove ID and you are left with believing magic, since science must be suspended completely. The universe must have created itself from nothing, but science dictates that something cannot come from nothing. The universe somehow created the laws of physics, but the Big Bang was purely a chaotic event. Chaos cannot create order, yet that is what the laws of physics are. Mathematics was created by the same magic that created the laws of physics, since math shows order. The origin of life is a return to something being created from nothing, which is a scientific impossibility.
Logic dictates that questions must be asked. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred. Energy that exists today has been around for billions of years. If energy cannot be created, where did the energy come from?
If something cannot come from nothing, how did the universe come into existence and how did life begin? If chaos cannot create order, it only creates more chaos, where did the laws of physics and mathematical formulas come from?
Only ID answers those questions. Einstein made his point clear. The more he studied the universe, the more he believed in God.
“how did the universe come into existence”
According to Stephen Hawking, it did thanks to the law of gravity.
“how did life begin?”
Dr Cronin and Dr Szostak will explain it soon. Then they’ll get the Evo2.0 OOL $10M prize to invest it in SETI.
I get the feeling that the $10,000,000 will remain unclaimed for a great many years to come. I wondered if anyone ever asked Hawking where gravity came from? Laws do not write themselves into existence.
I remember that, not too long ago, Darwinists here on UD would often claim that Lenski’s Citrate adaptation was (finally) real time experimental proof for speciation, i.e. macro-evolution,, for instance, this claim
In fact, Lenski himself had once claimed that the Citrate adaptation was experimental proof for speciation,
That claim from Lenski that the Citrate adaptation was (finally) proof for speciation was shot down by Scott Minnich and company in 2016. i.e. “We conclude that the rarity of the LTEE mutant was an artifact of the experimental conditions and not a unique evolutionary event. No new genetic information (novel gene function) evolved. ”
What was Lenski’s response? Well, in typical Darwinian fashion, he, instead of humbly admitting that he was wrong in his claim for experimental proof of speciation, responded with an ad hominem attack against Dr. Minnich, i.e. “In a disgraceful move, Lenski impugned Scott Minnich’s character. Since he’s a “fellow of the Discovery Institute” sympathetic with intelligent design,,,”
Thus in conclusion, not only was Lenski’s Citrate adaptation never proof for speciation, macro-evolution, in the first place, but, as Dr Behe points out in his current article, the Citrate adaptation turns out to be proof that evolutionary processes, in the long run, actually send species on a ‘death spiral’, i.e. into “spectacular devolution.”
Which is exactly the opposite kind of real-time empirical evidence that Darwinists need in order to. (finally), substantiate their theory.
Of related note:
The closing statement in Dr Behe’s article in EN is excellent:
“Thanks in very large part to the fine work done over decades at Michigan State we can now be certain that, like the citrate-eating E. coli, as an explanation for the great features of life Darwin’s theory itself is in a death spiral.”
Good points. I agree.
Dr Behe might be wrong because Dr Lenski’s experiment has lasted only a few decades, but evolution had billions of years at its disposition. If Dr Lenski got those revealing results in just a few decades, imagine what would happen in a century or longer?
Except for the fact that there isn’t anything in Lenski’s experiment that says prokaryotes can evolve into something other than prokaryotes. And that is given billions of years.
That just indicates that Behe and ID proponents have a spectacular misconception of what evolution is about. As Blount and Lenski write here:
The only misconceptions belong to seversky and the evos. E coli already has the ability to utilize citrate. All that happened was the CiT+ transport gene was duplicated. If you have two copies of the same book you don’t have any new information from the 2nd copy.
So the ONLY gene that could possibly help the E coli in this scenario was duplicated and put under the control of a promoter that was NOT turned off by the presence of O2. This sounds exactly like what Dr. Spetner discussed in “Not By Chance”- a built-in response to an environmental cue
And the lie- no one was going to teach ID in Dover schools. Only pathetic losers try to make that case.
Lenski’s e-coli are found to be in a ‘death spiral’ and a Darwinist’s, (PavelU’s), first response is,,,
LOL, and that quote is a shining example of the fantasy land that Darwinian advocates live in.
Contrary to what PavelU so desperately wants to believe. in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary I might add, time is certainly not on PavelU’s side. As Lee Spetner stated, “Whoever thinks macroevolution can be made by mutations that lose information is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up on volume.”
a few more notes,
Sounds like a counter-argument-by-analogy, and I thought skeptics here were opposed to arguments by analogy.
And the analogy fails spectacularly too. Wholesale rearrangement of nucleotides (letters) (or other information in a cell) is not what happened. It’s more like a large paragraph got duplicated, with a word or two changed–and no reader ever noticed.
EDTA- The amount of misinformation contained in “On the Origins of Species…” easily canceled out any new information it provided. 😎
Seversky @ 10 states:
That just indicates that Behe and ID proponents have a spectacular misconception of what evolution is about.
Macro-evolution is the idea that one species becomes something genetically different over time. For 30 years, E coli. remained E coli. and there was no evidence of speciation. There was nothing genetically different. It was the equivalent of 1,000,000 years to humans with only micro-evolution to show for it.
Those who point to micro as evidence of macro are the ones who don’t understand what evolution is. If there had been evidence of speciation, rather than micro-evolution, the experiment would not have been stopped. No species has ever been witnessed becoming a genetically different species.
Macro-evolution has never been witnessed by anyone. Macro-evolution has never had the results replicated. Without both of those happening, it remains a hypothesis. A scientific theory is based on what is witnessed and results replicated. That’s how the scientific method works.