Evolution-Just So Story

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Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle. One does, of course, have to put up with the clumsy English style of argument. Despite all shortcomings, it is here that, for the first time, ‘teleology’ in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained.

Karl Marx, letter to Ferdinand Lassalle, January 16, 1861

 

 

 

 

I have long had my doubts about Darwinian evolution, none of my doubts being religion based.  Consider the domestic dog for example.  Breeding by humans over the past few thousand years has produced infinite variety, but all still the same members of a species.  Radiation experiments on fruit flies, carried out over the past century, have produced quite a few variant fruit flies, many of them lethal, but all still members of the same species.  Darwinian evolution strikes me as a 19th century Just so story, a story that sought to explain things by invoking a grand encompassing theory.  Marx did this in economics, Freud did this in the human subconscious and Darwin did this in explaining the infinite variety of life.  Each of these three gentlemen wrote with a literary flair, and all three were master story tellers.  What they were not, were scientists.  Each had a pre-determined theory, and each used the evidence they collected to support the theory, rather than to produce a theory based on the evidence they found.  That is not how science works.

In regard to Darwinian evolution, the last century was largely an attempt by evolutionists to shore up the theory of natural selection with various ramshackle expedients.  Once again we have theories that seek out evidence to support them, rather than developing the theories from the evidence.  Darwinian evolution is a pseudoscience with all the problems of other pseudosciences like phrenology: a theory that cannot survive an honest look at the evidence.

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24 Comments

  1. Well, astrophysicist and TV bigmouth Neil DeGrasse Tyson told his TV audience that evolution really happened. What the pseudo celebrity scientist never provided were the facts to support his statement. Since when did evolution stop being a theory and become a fact?
    Crickets.

  2. ” Each had a pre-determined theory, and each used the evidence they collected to support the theory, rather than to produce a theory based on the evidence they found. That is not how science works.”
    Marx, Freud and Darwin

    Next up:Climate change. Co2 is the culprit! Now, lets find evidence to support this theory.

    “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”

  3. A late-19th century humorist, Mr. Dooley wrote, “It is more comfortable to feel that we are a slight improvement on a monkey than such a fallin’ off from the angels.”

    His greatest contribution to humanity is “The Darwin Awards.”

    Re: CCCCOOOOO22222: It is like 0.371% of air . . . 98% is nitrogen and oxygen.

    It’s solar cycles and nuclear is the solution, but that doesn’t provide opportunities for favored “entrepreneurs,” lobbyists, Wall Street, politicians, to make billions $$$$ on the green graft hoax. Not to mention how all that will destroy the economy.

  4. When I was a kid, they taught us that there are ‘ring species’– species where the ones neighboring each other can cross, but the ones at the far ends can’t.

    Turns out that they didn’t test it, they were going off of observations…the can cross. Just tend not to, because distance.

  5. Studying biochemistry in college convinced me that evolution didn’t explain things, and an intelligence had to be at work in our creation. No life has ever been observed to have formed outside of other life. It requires a cell membrane, multiple organelles, and genetic material. Replication must occur with few or no mistakes. The entropy barrier to the spontaneous appearance of life through random processes is so great as to be very highly improbable. The Second Law of Thermodynamics points towards this. There are some processes that can only be done in certain ways. You can’t shake a box of car parts and assemble a Ford Mustang no matter how long you shake it. The entropy barrier is too great. If you find a Ford Mustang, that is evidence of an intelligence at work. We are far more complex. In fact, just finding the parts for a Ford Mustang would be evidence of an intelligence at work. When we find atoms and molecules which are the building blocks of life, we must also question how and why these arose and formed into life. This, too, points to an intelligence at work. Darwinian evolution begs the question because it assumes its conclusion, that there was no God.

  6. I keep hoping that I will live long enough to see Darwin’s evolution reach the point of Newtonian physics – replaced by a better theory.

    Natural selection is useful and fascinating from a programming-stability perspective, but still needs some method to inject new developments into the system. But then I’m stepping beyond my last class on the manner and would defer to say… Mike Flynn on the latest updates.

  7. Don

    The National Association for the Protection of Simians (NAPS) is looking for a lawyer.

    NAPS wants to file a suit. The accusations that Humans are devolved from Simians is a 14th Amendment violation denying them the equal protection of the law and promoted by government agencies without due process of law. It is a gross slur against their good name, out and out hate speech, and causes enormous damage to the psyches of their young.

    This has to stop.

  8. This science teacher asks that we do not confuse facts and explanations. Evolution is and always will be a proposed explanation, but some of what it’s attempting to explain are facts, like the geological record, radioactive dating of elements such as carbon-14 and uranium-238, the fossil record and the observed and genetically determined similarities among living species. Living things have some connection across space and time. Evolution may not entirely explain those connections, but in defending Creation, beware of invoking the Supernatural when a natural explanation will do. Don’t replace a Divine Watchmaker with a Divine Conjurer.

  9. Don

    The National Association for the Protection of Simians (NAPS) is looking for a lawyer.

    NAPS wants to file a suit. The accusations that Humans are devolved from Simians is a 14th Amendment violation denying them the equal protection of the law and promoted by government agencies without due process of law. It is a gross slur against their good name, out and out hate speech, and causes enormous damage to the psyches of their young.

    This has to stop.

    Comment of the week Hank. Take ‘er away Sam!

  10. What some of the commenters (and many scientists) don’t grasp is that the Darwinian model for evolution, survival of the fittest, is a model. Biological evolution–common descent from some primitive single celled organism–has a lot of evidence for it, foremost the phylogenetic tree. And there is cosmological evolution, the universe evolving from the Big Bang.
    Pope St. John Paul II has made excellent comments about evolution(see the posted article). There are many scientists and philosophers who believe the neo-Darwinian model for evolution is inadequate, not all of them theists.
    If you’re interested in a short piece about evolution and Catholic teaching see “God’s Periodic Table and Evolution:”
    https://magiscenter.com/dr-robert-kurlands-gods-periodic-table-evolution/

  11. I don’t wade much into the issue since science is well outside my realm of expertise. A fellow who attended the last Protestant church I pastored held a PhD in physics and taught calculus at our local university. His focus was on aerodynamics. He said that flight shoots down the whole evolutionary theory as presented. He knew about the whole ‘first they evolved, then they glided, then they flew’ presentation. But he said it was bunk. Things fly because everything about them is geared toward flying. After all, that Boeing jet doesn’t fly just because it has wings. While it’s entirely possible that something could evolve long fingers that become wings but not fly and not die while other characteristics needed to fly evolve over millions of years, it’s staggeringly unlikely. Now he said it better than me. He knew what he was talking about. But it made me think.

  12. Dr. Kurland is correct. I am no biologist and so can’t lend credence to what he says about biological evoution. But I am a nuclear engineer and can testify he’s write about the Big Bang, formation of elements on the Periodic Table and nucleosynthesis.

  13. Evolution may not entirely explain those connections, but in defending Creation, beware of invoking the Supernatural when a natural explanation will do. Don’t replace a Divine Watchmaker with a Divine Conjurer.

    I don’t defend Creation, in terms of “Genesis is literal.”

    I just object to taking good, observable science– natural selection in existing species, AKA “micro-evolution”– and then insisting it’s turtles all the way down, even if/when it requires introducing new assumptions.

    “We don’t know” and “well, it’s a theory, but I think-” seriously needs to enter the vocabulary of science popularizers!

  14. There always seems to be an effort by science to eliminate God from the equation when it comes to evolution because it would be a loose end which they cannot tie up, at least with science. I do believe that the Church’s only exception to the current theory is that science refuses to acknowledge God in the mix and believing the theory is self-contained even if not completely understood yet. If evolution fits in the scientific world then I see no problem where God is concerned since evolution could very well be the way in which God decided in what manner creation was to proceed.

    In the same manner, the Big Bang has plied all kinds of implausible ideas in order to reject God as the cause. Multi-verses and string theory are two, yet neither one of these can be tested because no test has been conceived by science in which to falsify these ideas. All science can tell us about the Big Bang is what happened after matter came on the scene. They can’t explain where matter came from nor will they even consider that perhaps matter was created supernaturally. God is too scary for them.

    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
    Arthur Conan Doyle
    Perhaps?

  15. Ord Cath, I agree: string theory and multiverses aren’t science; they aren’t empirically verifiable; these “theories” are what one might call mathematical metaphysics. They are, to use Pauli’s phrase, so bad as science that “they’re not even wrong.” Nevertheless it is wrong to incorporate the Big Bang as theology as the originator of the theory, Abbe LeMaitre, argued to Pope Pius XII (?) when wanted to do so. Science is temporal. A theory may be replaced by new theory/facts. Dogma/doctrine are eternal.

  16. Foxfier, I don’t know whether you’re objecting to evolution as common descent or to evolution as the neo-Darwinian model. If the former, then can you tell me where a simpler explanation for the phylogenetic tree and biochemical similarities of animals and plants (e.g. same chirality of amino acids) might be found than common descent? And of course the mechanism for this common descent it is still unknown. It may well be, as Thomas Nagel proposes, that a teleological principle has to be introduced into science (and we may choose to call that principle God).

  17. Bob-
    I’m objecting to pushing as solid and/or dependable any theory where the defense is “it’s kinda possible, what do you have that’s better?”
    My simpler answer would be “things that are similar are often built along the same lines.” Especially since they keep having to juggle the phylogenetic tree because they find stuff like theoretical descendants being (most likely, you know how nasty those fights get) found before their theorized ancestor. Don’t get me started on rewriting it based on DNA… it was more useful when they tried to use it to sort by characteristics, like a folder system. By organizing to fit a theory, information is lost.

    What is the reason to be for it? Where are the predictions that checked out? The Ring Species were supposed to be that– heck, I remember folks insisting that coyotes and dogs or wolves couldn’t cross. Turns out that “red wolves” are coyote/wolf hybrids, and a lot of “coyotes” are mostly wolf…. They just tend to be more willing to eat each-other, unless something is unusually large and tough, or a female is in heat.

    I object to pushing a theory beyond the evidence.
    (Whoo! I found a concise! Need to mark this on the calendar….)

    Shift over to theology for an example–I rather like the theory that the ‘clay’ Himself used to make the First Man were proto-humans; I disagree with Father Spitzer on if Neanderthals had souls and if they may have been that ‘clay,’ (from memory, so I may be mangling, or he may have developed his theory more since that episode) but we’re both working on they “hm, maybe it means….” type of castle-spinning, we both used the genetic evidence that we have Neanderthal ancestors, and we both looked at the archaeological evidence. Different conclusions.
    If either of us tried to push that as “Catholicism Says,” then it goes from a good argument to a vulnerability when some aspect is either shown to be false, or there’s simply more information that is relevant.

    What immediately comes to mind as a possible issue for leaning on DNA for evidence is that we don’t really know how it works, yet… we’re still running into stuff like epigenetics, and apparently Junk DNA isn’t, or not all of it is, we’re not sure about that either…. it’s not surprising, this is trying to figure out how an car works while you’re hanging on the outside of the cab and it’s going down the freeway.
    Folks just really, really like being able to use stuff as a hammer.

  18. Foxfier, I don’t really understand what is your criteria for proof/verification (in the scientific, not mathematical or logical sense). For example, is plate tectonic theory proven in a sense you would agree to? I’m a physicist who’s worked with biologists, MD’s and biochemists. The “proof” requirements in these disciplines is generally non-quantitative.

    And with respect to not knowing how DNA works, again I’m not sure what you’re getting at. The mechanism whereby DNA/RNA is used to form proteins is pretty well understood. How this is used to organize cells and tissue is still, I believe, an ongoing subject of research. Which is not to say that we don’t know that DNA controls many characteristics of the organism. For example we know that there’s a language gene, FOXP2, which both homo sapiens and neanderthals had.

    Also, if you look at the variation of junk DNA between species compared to that of non-junk, it’s much greater. This can be interpreted that mutations in junk DNA do not significantly affect heritable characteristics. But there may be a role that this junk DNA plays (see Greg Bear’s “Darwin’s Radio”).

    In any scientific enterprise if you don’t like an explanation for something, it’s obligatory to present an alternative. And if you use Occam’s Razor as a guiding principle, that alternative has to be either as simple, or explain more things. Also I think that a guiding principle in assessing scientific theories is that there still may be things we don’t understand or know, as for example. in QM.

  19. There’s a reason I didn’t say proof.

    It’s the same standard as any other scientific theory/hypothesis — identify something, take a guess why it’s so, predict what you’ll find in X and then go look.

    The results of the ‘go look’ need to support the theory.

    Plate tectonics? Did that.

    Heritability of traits? Did that, part of how we found DNA.

    Various specific functions in DNA? Did that, and are still doing it, and looking for more information; your example of the FOX2 is a good example, it looks like there’s a lot of drama going on about it.

    The mechanism by which someone’s mother starving before she was conceived, and that having a detectable pattern of effects on her kids? Still working on that.

    Macro-evolution? Didn’t do that. Predictions made, tested, came back negative. It failed to explain.

    Simpler theory than “this happens we just can’t find evidence where it should be” would be “there is a bad assumption in there, somewhere.” Until it starts having predictive value, it doesn’t work. Even if it’s “just” predicting where you’ll find stuff.

    Most obvious option being that it isn’t turtles all the way down.

    For “why do these things that do the same job look alike?” I offered “because they do the same job.” This would do a superior job of explaining “more advanced” forms of things found before their predecessors.

    For junk DNA, I can point out that it’s a broad term for ‘stuff we don’t know of a use for. Yet.’ (Yeah, working on it. https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/transposons-or-jumping-genes-not-junk-dna-1211/ . I wonder if they’ve looked at domesticated foxes…..)

    AKA, insufficient data to make a functioning theory.

  20. well, “why do these things that do the same job look alike?…because they do the same job.” But they don’t look entirely alike, and where they are alike, for example, being all of the same chirality, that isn’t needed to do the same job. One can have right-handed amino acids do the same job as left-handed. Nevertheless, for earth we have “homochirality,” a common chirality for biomolecules.

    I’ve read enough scifi to realize different biochemistries might be possible for different environments and even for this earthly environment. So, why is biochemistry the same for earth’s creatures if there isn’t a common ancestry? Is this biochemistry the only possible scheme? I doubt it

    What is the prediction made for macroevolution (and I’m not referring to the Darwinian model) that came out negative? That would be a definitive argument against common descent, and I’m willing to consider such.

  21. But they don’t look entirely alike, and where they are alike, for example, being all of the same chirality, that isn’t needed to do the same job.

    So, to rephrase it, the stuff we know has to be roughly the same is, some of the other stuff isn’t, and some of the stuff that doesn’t have to be the same because it would still work is the same.
    Has anybody tested if the stuff that is assumed to be non-essential is actually non-essential? How many options are there? (in this case, two)

    I’ve read enough scifi to realize different biochemistries might be possible for different environments and even for this earthly environment.

    Yes, that sci-fi is based off of variations of Darwin’s theory. grin Scifi is part of why I embraced the idea of casting a rum eye on theories that spent more time declaring folks stupid than going “hey, we made this theory, did this test, and here’s the results.”

    What is the prediction made for macroevolution (and I’m not referring to the Darwinian model) that came out negative?

    Ring species being unable to reproduce at opposite ends of the “ring”, but inter-fertile with neighbors is the simplest one, and powerful; a perfect illustration of a new species hitting an area, and diversifying, that avoids the sampling problem of fossils. (since a new form wouldn’t generally wipe out the old ones, there’s always a question of how new the “new’ one we found is)

    Not only did zoos find out the hard way that the far-ends are inter-fertile, but if I remember correctly it set off one of those nasty “are they two species or variations of one” fights for at least one salamander and one bird example.
    The salamander I don’t remember the distinctions, it was something to do with DNA testing, but the bird was basically big billed vs little billed. Turned out to be determined by diet. (which is a really cool survival mechanism)

  22. Wow! You know a lot more about biology than I do. Nevertheless, that prediction seems more like it’s made for a neo-Darwinian model of evolution than for common descent, which is still a mystery as to mechanism.
    And with regard to definition of species, I think DNA (or mitochondrial DNA) is probably the most reliable criterion. See “Why Should Mitochondria Define Species” here:
    https://phe.rockefeller.edu/docs/Stoeckle_Thaler%20Human%20Evo%20V33%202018%20final.pdf
    And with that, let me say you’ve made some interesting arguments but you haven’t convinced me, and I don’t think I’ve convinced you, so let’s call a truce… and thanks for the bits and pieces I didn’t know about.

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