A Series of Mistakes That Build Uparticle for the BBC that began with this: “Evolution is one of the greatest theories in all of science.” Baraniuk quoted liberally from several leading evolutionists, such as Steve Jones, Nancy Moran, Richard Lenski, and Chris Stringer, and he discussed the work of several others. The purpose of the article was to explain how we know evolution is a fact, as evolutionists claim. And by “fact,” evolutionists are not trying to apply a nuanced or artful spin to their claim. Quite the opposite, by “fact” evolutionists intend that their idea is beyond all reasonable doubt. Baraniuk well explains the claim:
For scientists, evolution is a fact. We know that life evolved with the same certainty that we know the Earth is roughly spherical, that gravity keeps us on it, and that wasps at a picnic are annoying.
Baraniuk appropriately reflects the certainty of evolutionists.
Baraniuk also makes several other good points. For instance, he doesn’t shy away from the heroic levels of Darwin’s idea. Baraniuk explains that under evolution humans must be descended from worms—an ancestor with more biblical allusions than Wilberforce’s “mushrooms.” Either way, such examples quickly reveal the sheer magnitude of the claim. It is, as Wilberforce winsomely put it, a “most unsuspected cousinship.”
Natural selection as creator
It is all the more unsuspected today given that it is supposed to have occurred by strictly random mutations. Natural selection, in contradistinction to how it often is presented, does nothing to induce these mutations. Selection doesn’t guide the evolutionary process like a Plastik Nature, it merely kills off the lesser designs. Death, in evolutionary theory, becomes the engine of progress and here Baraniuk correctly understands that selection “weeds out” those lesser organisms, but Baraniuk unfortunately also slips in the requisite teleological cover, stating that much of evolution is “driven by natural selection”:
Descent with modification, which is caused by random mutations in genes, ultimately leads to gradual changes and the formation of new species – much of it driven by natural selection, which weeds out those organisms that are less suited to their environments.
But evolution is not “driven by natural selection,” it is driven by random mutations. Their metaphysics require a random creation narrative, but for public consumption—and their own sanity—evolutionists quickly replace chance with natural selection.
Everyone knows that the Epicureans’ randomly swerving atoms—or randomly mutating nucleotides, as evolutionists would have it two thousand years later—do not a world create. Chance doesn’t work. Random mutations do not create millions of species, let alone a single protein. And so not too surprisingly evolutionists fall back on Aristotle’s teleological, goal-oriented, narrative. Natural selection is said to “drive” the evolutionary process. (You can see examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,)
Darwin’s genius, if such banality can be described as genius, was in his formulation of natural selection as a concept that would simultaneously allow for the needed chance while providing the needed direction.
Natural selection was the director. Endless just-so stories have been told since 1859 about how natural selection drives the evolutionary process and its resulting biological wonders, producing X for the purpose of Y. But like the Emperor’s new clothes, it was all a fiction. Natural selection does not “drive” anything. A more accurate image is that of a weed out mechanism. Natural selection, stripped of its teleological gloss, merely kills off the failed or less prolific designs, leaving the more prolific designs as the evolutionary winners.
But stripping natural selection of the smuggled in Aristotelianism leaves the evolutionary process with nothing but those random mutations to create the species. Every organism, every structure, and every metabolic pathway, must have been constructed by an unimaginably long series of strictly random events occurring in an unimaginably high-dimensional design space. The curse of dimensionality, and the rugged, flat, fitness landscape both conspire to make clear what was obvious to the Stoics—this is absurd.
Baraniuk doesn’t understand this and his evolution informers have left him none the wiser. Baraniuk rightly explains that natural selection “weeds out those organisms that are less suited to their environments,” but he then applies the same old teleological gloss when he informs his readers that much of the evolutionary process is “driven by natural selection.”
The creature discovers the creator
An interesting consequence of evolutionary theory is that not only did it create the species, but it created a species which, in turn, discovered evolution. That is, evolution created a biological world including humans who eventually repaid the favor by discovering their chance creator. Baraniuk explains:
Given enough time, these changes mount up and lead to the appearance of new species and new types of organism, one small change at a time. Step by step, worms became fish, fish came onto land and developed four legs, those four-legged animals grew hair and – eventually – some of them started walking around on two legs, called themselves "humans" and discovered evolution.
But this doesn’t make sense. For if humans are the creation of a randomized world of matter and motion, then the result is no better. We are simply the result of a big long chemical experiment where the products have a lower free energy than the reactants. Our minds—which evolutionists will explain as nothing more than an emergent property which deceives us into thinking that our consciousness is something real and distinct from the moving molecules encased in our skulls—would have no knowledge of truth. In fact they would have no knowledge, period. It would be remarkable bit of luck if those moving molecules happened to formulate thoughts corresponding to reality. As Darwin stated in a letter:
But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?
This is one of the greatest own-goals of all time. Darwin’s point was that we should not trust the conclusion that chance is an insufficient creator. But the Sage of Kent was apparently oblivious that his argument was simultaneously circular and devastating to his own theory. If we are created rather than evolved from the lower animals, then Darwin’s “horrid doubt” is erased and poses no problem for creation. Yet if we are not created but rather evolved, then Darwin’s argument demolishes his own theory. As usual, the evolutionist’s criticism points right back at himself.
It’s downhill from there as Baraniuk presents the scientific evidence for this new brand of Epicureanism. For example, Baraniuk’s survey of the fossil evidence, aided and abetted by Steve Jones, is a case study in fallacies. There is the equivocation that “the fossil record makes it clear that life has changed over time,” and the false history, from Steve Jones, that Darwin “knew that [the fossil record] was an irrefutable case that evolution had taken place.” (Darwin mostly apologized for the fossils which clearly showed abrupt appearance). And while Baraniuk correctly explains that the fossil record is characterized by the wrong pattern and so must be viewed as full of gaps:
The fossil record is only so much help here, because it is incomplete. "If you look at most fossil records, what you actually see is one form that lasts quite a long time and then the next bunch of fossils that you've got is quite different from what you had before," says Jones.
Baraniuk nonetheless claims that transitional fossils have more or less filled the gaps (they haven’t).
Baraniuk next presents the mandatory poster-child example of Darwin’s Finches, dramatically misrepresenting the evidence, which shows rapid, directed response to environmental challenges—the opposite of what evolution expects.
Baraniuk then moves on to Richard Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) at Michigan State University, an experiment which for several decades has revealed how little change comes about in laboratory bacteria, E. coli. The biggest observed change was the utilization of citrate in aerobic conditions (normally E. coli utilizes citrate only in anaerobic conditions). That adaptation has been represented as an important example of evolutionary change observed in the laboratory. Unfortunately Baraniuk swallowed it and the result is more pseudoscience.
Baraniuk informs the reader that E. coli cannot digest citrate (false, it cannot digest citrate under certain conditions), and that the observed change represented “a huge leap forward” and “radically new abilities.”
These are ridiculous pseudo science lies.
Evolutionists want so badly for evolution to be true they will pervert science to make their case. Baraniuk also explained that “This would be like humans suddenly developing the ability to eat tree bark.” That is an absurd analogy. E. coli expanding its citrate utilization to include aerobic conditions is nowhere close to humans developing the ability to eat tree bark. Statements such as these reveal an agenda rather than a search for truth.
In fact it is worth mentioning that this same, minor, adaptation has been observed to occur in a matter of weeks (this was not fully appreciated until after Baraniuk’s article). Lenski has tried to dismiss those findings as inconsequential because three weeks were required rather than merely a day or two:
While that’s a lot faster than 15 years, it’s still much longer than typical “direct selections” used by microbiologists where a readily accessible mutation might confer, for example, resistance to an antibiotic after a day or two.
This is an astonishing statement. Lenski did not elaborate on why three weeks versus two days is an important distinction because, well, it isn’t. What these short term experiments suggest is that E. coli can expand its citrate utilization using mechanisms other than evolution’s random mutations. Instead, it looks to be yet another example of directed adaptation—exactly the opposite of what evolution expects. The fact that E. coli can develop aerobic citrate utilization in a matter of weeks rather than years renders Lenski’s LTEE finding a big fat “So what?”
Lenski attempted to cast this LTEE finding as a significant evidence of evolution in action. This is not true simply because the magnitude of the change is tiny (an existing capability was now enabled when it ordinarily would be disabled). Beyond this, the fact that the change can occur in weeks further negates the claim of evolutionary significance. What Lenski and evolutionists should be asking themselves is not “How can we ignore this finding?”, but rather, “How did organisms, such as E. coli in this case, get the ability to respond directly to environmental challenges?” This makes no sense under evolution.
It also confirms another lesson.
Whenever adaptation is observed in a living organism, it should not simply be assumed it is due to the evolutionary concept of random mutations and natural selection. This view has failed repeatedly as so many adaptations have been found to be not due to the action of chance events, but directed mechanisms responding to the environment. This is yet another example of how evolutionary expectations have failed, and failed badly. It is inappropriate to interpret adaptations in living organisms as signs of evolution in action, yet evolutionists continue to do this.
One example of change is apparent lost function. These are terrible evidences for evolution because evolution requires new functions to be created. The losing of existing functions does nothing to resolve the basic conundrum that evolutionists struggle with: How could biology’s wonders have evolved? Yet evolutionists, in a sign of how weak the evidence is, consistently resort to these examples of lost function, such as cave animals losing their vision, as one of their key evidences. Not surprisingly, but unfortunately, Baraniuk follows along, aided by Nancy Moran:
"It really shows the process of evolution," says Moran. "It's not all just adaptation and things getting better, there's also this big potential for things to get worse."
This is pathetic. Evolution has failed to show how the species and their many designs could have evolved, yet they claim the loss of such complex functions is evidence for evolution.
Baraniuk’s article is yet another good example of how ludicrous evolution is. Evolution is nothing more than our modern-day Epicureanism, and it is pathetic. Perhaps the best explanation for evolution comes straight from the evolutionist himself:
"That's what evolution is," says Steve Jones of University College London in the UK. "It's a series of mistakes that build up."
Of course what Jones means here is that the evolutionary process is the accumulation of a series of mistakes. That alone reveals the scientific absurdity. And so, a more accurate interpretation of Jones’ statement is the it is not the process of evolution, but the theory of evolution, that is a “series of mistakes that build up.”