And Air Travel
I was reminded of Carell’s hilarious portrayal of Scott this week when evolutionist Dan Graur made an attempt to describe “All of evolutionary biology” in 12 points. One can picture Graur, like Carell, starting with the four main points of evolution, and quickly realizing there is another point or two that he left out. But Graur’s first point is beyond anything fiction writers could have dreamed up:
1. Evolutionary biology is ruled by handful of logical principles, each of which has repeatedly withstood rigorous empirical and observational testing.
Logical principles? Rigorous empirical testing? You’ve got to be kidding. The entire biological world arising by chance comes from logical principles? A theory that contradicts science at every turn has repeatedly withstood rigorous testing? The sheer pompous absurdity leaves Carell in the dust.
But it gets better.
5. All novelty in evolution starts as a single mutation arising in a single individual at a single time point.
Here Graur has spoken the unspeakable. In his ramblings Graur has laid bare the uncomfortable truth: evolutionary thought holds that the world arose spontaneously. Those Epicurean chance events, whether swerving atoms or mutating molecules, conspired to create everything we see. The idea is prima facie ridiculous and evolutionists do everything to dress it up with more palatable notions of natural selection, fitness landscapes, and all manner of Aristotelian euphemisms (“Dinosaurs were experimenting with flight”).
Not surprisingly evolutionists rushed in to cover over the embarrassment. Outdoing Steve Carell, Matthew Cobb hilariously added predation:
I think the main thing that’s not quite right about this is 5, “All novelty in evolution starts as a single mutation arising in a single individual at a single time point”. While this is essentially true, it misses out two of the most significant novelties in the history of life, which were not created by mutation, but instead by instances of predation that went wrong and instead produced symbiosis, with one kind of cell living inside another. The first such event took place around 2 billion years ago, somewhere in the ocean. Prior to that moment, all life had consisted of small organisms called prokaryotes which had no cell nucleus or mitochondria (these are the tiny cellular structures that help provide you and me and giraffes and mushrooms with energy). Everything changed when one unicellular life-form, known as an achaebacterium, tried to eat another, called a eubacterium. On this one occasion the eubacterium survived inside its would-be predator and became trapped, losing many of its genes to its host and eventually turning into a molecular powerhouse – the mitochondrion – that produced energy from chemical reactions and was used by the new eukaryotic cell. These new eukaryotic life-forms were a weird hybrid, composed of two different organisms. They were our ancestors. A second, similar, event occurred around a billion years ago, when a eukaryotic cell, complete with mitochondria, engulfed a eubacterium that had long ago evolved the trick of acquiring energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis. Predation went wrong again, and another form of symbiosis eventually appeared. This gave rise to algae and eventually plants, in which small organelles called chloroplasts, the descendants of the intended eubacterial victim, turn light into energy for the benefit of the eukaryotic host.
Of course one could also add any number of other evolutionary just-so stories, from Woese’s network of horizontal gene transfer creating a coordinated lateral evolution to retroviruses controlling embryonic development, evolutionary story-telling has no shortage of mechanisms that, as luck would have it, not only were created by evolution but, in turn, have produced more evolutionary change of their own.
The serendipity is staggering. Cobb’s fortuitous predators, as well as all the other imagined evolutionary mechanisms must have been, ultimately, created by those random mutations.
Graur put his finger on it.
All the evolutionary just-so stories, no matter how ridiculous, nonetheless owe their existence to those chance mutations. The rest is serendipity, just ask Michael Scott.