Masatoshi Nei and Evolution’s Hard Core
Here’s a test. When I give you a word, you tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Here’s the word: Evolution. Answer: Natural selection, right? If your biology teacher could have used only one idea to describe evolution it probably would have been natural selection. It was practically synonymous with evolution.
But that was then and this is now.
The concept of natural selection always had problems and in recent years they have only grown stronger. So strong that evolutionists, one by one, are slowly admitting that selection could not be the important, primary force it was held to be for so long.
Consider, for example, Masatoshi Nei’s new book, Mutation-Driven Evolution. The term “mutation-driven” means that mutations not only are supposed to provide the raw materials for evolutionary change, but that they also are supposed to cause evolutionary change without the help of the venerable natural selection.
You might be crying foul if you remember all the times you were told that neoDarwinism—evolution by random mutation and natural selection—was a fact. If evolutionists such as Nei are now so easily discarding that once vaunted “fact” then why should we believe their new version? Particularly when the new version is even more unlikely than the old version, if that were possible.
But be careful. Evolutionists never really meant that neoDarwinism was a fact. I know that is what they said, and quite forcefully. But they said that only because neoDarwinism was the current version of evolutionary theory. What they really meant was that evolution, broadly construed, is a fact. NeoDarwinism, like all particular hypotheses of evolution, was always forfeitable.
Hypotheses of evolution can be thrown under the bus at any time. What cannot be questioned is evolution broadly construed, or as Ernst Mayr used to put it, evolution per se. And what is evolution per se? That the species arose according to random events and natural law—chance and necessity. Biology had no guiding hand, no design or final causes. It must have arisen spontaneously. That, as Lakatos would have put it, is evolution’s hard core.
And that is what it is to be an evolutionist.