Why Aristotle Won’t Go Awaydescribed their hypothesis with the usual Aristotelian teleological language, using words such as “adaptation” and “strategy,” to hide the absurdity:
This biochemical adaptation by Prochlorococcus must be a significant benefit to these organisms, which compete against phospholipid-rich heterotrophic bacteria for [phosphate]. Thus, evolution of this “sulfur-for-phosphorus” strategy set the stage for the success of picocyanobacteria in oligotrophic environments and may have been a major event in Earth’s early history when the relative availability of sulfate and [phosphate] were significantly different from today’s ocean.
To say that there was a biochemical adaptation by an organism and that a strategy evolved sounds much better than saying that a whole bunch of random mutations must somehow have constructed new structural and regulatory proteins that just happened to result in a sulfolipid biosynthesis pathway and use of said sulfolipid in the membrane.
For remember, in evolution there must be no final causes. So every move is random and not in the direction of any structure or process that actually works, much less that works in a way that is helpful. And so for evolution to cause a switch from phospholipids to sulfolipids is a rather tall order.
But that is only the beginning. Remember, while this must have evolved in Prochlorococcus where it was helpful, it could not have evolved because it was helpful. It evolved simply because it happened to evolve.
That means it was just as likely to have evolved in all the other organisms on Earth. And if it just so happened to evolve in the rare case where it was really needed, it must not be a very rare event. So over all of evolutionary history, evolution must have caused a switch from phospholipids to sulfolipids a great many times, in a great many organisms. It is just that in those many other instances, it was useless and so did not survive.
But there is more.
For this same logic applies equally well to every other element. In addition to a switch from phosphorus to sulfur, evolution must have also been testing out every other entry that it could in the periodic table.
But there is even more.
For this same logic applies equally well to every other biosynthesis pathway. And this same logic applies equally well to every other type of pathway in the cell. And this same logic also applies equally well to, well, everything else in biology.
So you can see this rapidly becomes rather silly and it is much better for evolutionists simply to say that there was a biochemical “adaptation” and that a “strategy” evolved, and leave it at that.
It sounds better but it is at the cost of reducing Darwinism (in whatever version is current) to Aristotelianism. In Aristotle’s physics objects had natural motions. Smoke moved upward, apples moved downward and stars moved sideways. Such objects were active. They were seeking their natural place within the natural order.
In evolution, Aristotle’s motion of objects is replaced with the design of species. Just as motion had a predetermined target in Aristotle’s physics, the designs of species have predetermined targets in Darwin’s evolution.
And what are these predetermined targets in evolution? They are improvements in fitness, whatever that is, or is imagined to be, for the different organisms in their different environments. Once such a fitness improvement is identified, or imagined, then for evolutionists the design simply naturally arises, in the same way that for Aristotelians smoke naturally moved upward.
Consider, for example, Jonathan Amos piece from Sunday’s BBC entitled “Artificial finger tests evolutionary origin of prints.” Amos discusses research work at Dartmouth College but, in spite of the headline, Amos says precisely nothing about how finger prints did or might have evolved.
Rather, the discussion is about how fingerprints might be helpful in different situations. That is, how fingerprints might improve fitness.
And if they improve fitness then they will naturally arise. Amos concludes that the findings “could say something quite deep about the evolution of primates.” It is all merely Aristotelianism by another name.
Religion drives science, and it matters.