(11 January 2012) Here
The work of Finnegan et al (2012) strikes me as quite thorough and elegant. I have no reason to doubt that events could have unfolded that way. However, the implications of the work for unguided evolution appear very different to me then they’ve been spun in media reports. ( http://tinyurl.com/7lawgpl ) The most glaringly obvious point is that, like the results of Lenski’s work, this is evolution by degradation. All of the functional parts of the system were already in place before random mutation began to degrade them. Thus it is of no help to Darwinists, who require a mechanism that will construct new, functional systems. What’s more, unlike Lenski’s results, the mutated system of Thornton and colleagues is not even advantageous; it is neutral, according to the authors. Perhaps sensing the disappointment for Darwinism in the results, the title of the paper and news reports emphasize that the “complexity” of the system has increased. But increased complexity by itself is no help to life — rather, life requires functional complexity. One can say, if one wishes, that a congenitally blind man teaming up with a congenitally legless man to safely move around the environment is an increase in “complexity” over a sighted, ambulatory person. But it certainly is no improvement, nor does it give the slightest clue how vision and locomotion arose.
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