“We Were Completely Baffled”
In the algae study the researchers competed various pairs of freshwater green algae species against each other. Those species that are thought to be more closely related in the evolutionary tree should have competed against each other more intensely. On the other hand, species that are farther apart in the evolutionary tree should exhibit less competition.
But none of this was found in the experimental results. No such trends were found and once again the theory of evolution produced a false prediction and did not help to explain the scientific evidence. The team spent months trying to resolve the problem, but to no avail. As one of the researchers explained:
It was completely unexpected. When we saw the results, we said ‘this can’t be.’ We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin’s hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right? … When we started coming up with numbers that showed he [Darwin] wasn’t right, we were completely baffled. … We should be able to look at the Tree of Life, and evolution should make it clear who will win in competition and who will lose. But the traits that regulate competition can’t be predicted from the Tree of Life.
Of course none of this has anyone doubting the truth of evolution. It just must be more complicated than was previously thought. Perhaps algae are “plastic” and diverging in ways unrelated to competition. Or perhaps nature’s species cooperate at greater levels than was thought. Perhaps there is more co-evolution between species, resulting in more cooperation.
You see there are always more epicycles for evolution. With each new absurdity another new complicated just-so story is woven into evolutionary theory. As Lakatos explained, some theories simply are not falsifiable. But as a result they sacrifice realism and parsimony.
Religion drives science, and it matters.