Further to Cornelius Hunter’s observations on Santa Fe Institute’s Andreas Wagner’s admission that we know very little about how new traits emerge in evolution:
But this admission, while uncontroversial, is not well advertised. It is not typically found in textbooks or popular books. Evolutionists do not often discuss this shortcoming in their class lectures or public talks. For this shortcoming is rather embarrassing. In order to be taken seriously evolution must be able to explain how life’s various and incredible innovations arose, and it hasn’t been able to do that.
“Evolution” does not need to explain anything in order to be taken seriously. When people use the term, they always end up meaning “Darwin’s theory of evolution,” the only one that has launched a cult. And Darwin’s cult only needs to explain things in its own terms.
So whether you want to know why people get mad in checkout lineups or give to charity, you can consult a branch of Darwin’s theory of evolution (evo psych), and its practitioners will tell you an answer. It’s rubbish, of course, but it’s rubbish in support of the cult, so all is well. In fact, it is not at present possible to ask Darwin’s followers a question that is outside their remit.
All this said, here is the release that went out at ScienceDaily, on Wagner’s theme:
The findings underscore the idea that traits we see now — even complex ones, like color vision — may have had neutral origins that sat latent for generations before spreading through populations, Wagner says.
That is a better argument for design than for Darwinism, but don’t expect to hear it from the Darwin lobby.
“Our work shows that exaptations [“byproducts” that turn out to be useful later] exceed adaptations several-fold,” he says.
If exaptations are pervasive in evolution, he adds, it becomes difficult to distinguish adaptation from exaptation, and it could change the way evolutionary biologists think about selective advantage as the primary driver of natural selection.
It would actually make Darwin’s natural selection much less important to evolution than it is now claimed to be. Genomes may well be libraries of neutral changes that happen to become useful in a given environment, and were not selected for by a long slow process of weeding out all but the fittest.
Which is why nothing much is likely to come of Wagner’s work. It is safer for Darwin’s followers to just ignore him than to pick a fight.