Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Desert Mice Fur Changes Color to Match the Terrain

An Example of Evolution in Every Detail?

About fifteen years ago researchers discovered genetic differences that probably explain the different fur coloring in desert mice populations in New Mexico and Arizona (see papers here and here). Mice populations living on light colored terrain tend to have light colored fur, and those on dark colored terrain tend to have dark colored fur. Blending in with the terrain helps to camouflage the mice, protecting them from predators. And that is, apparently, exactly what the mice did about a thousand years ago when desert lava flows produced the darkened terrain. But that is where the science is overtaken by the dogma. Evolutionists have misappropriated this research work, casting it as a textbook example of evolution, and creating a highly produced video (see above) used to indoctrinate students.

The first problem in casting the dark colored mice as an example of evolution is that their genetic differences are not known to be the result of random mutations. For evolutionists there simply is no question that the genetic differences that are thought to cause the dark fur color arose from random mutations.

Now that may be correct. But it may not be. We simply do not know.

This is not merely a technical objection—in spite of evolutionary theory which called for random mutations to be the source of change, in recent decades directed mutations have been found to be at work in an ever increasing number of cases. For many years evolutionists have ignored and even resisted these findings. Too often I have debated evolutionists who, when I point to this evidence, simply deny it.

So while the genetic differences in those dark mice may well be the result of random mutations, evolutionists do not even give this a second thought. They simply assume from the start, and inform their audience in no uncertain terms, that random mutations are the cause.

This is an example of what philosophers refer to as a “theory-laden observation.” Science can get into trouble when the measurements and observations themselves, rather than being theory-neutral and independent of the theories which explain them, are in fact intertwined with those theories.

This can become circular very quickly, and this desert mouse case is a good example of that. Evolutionists assume the genetic differences arose from random mutations, and then claim the evidence as a powerful confirmation of evolution.

The second problem in casting the dark colored mice as an example of evolution is that the dark coloration may be the result of multiple genetic changes. In one case, four mutations are identified, all of which perhaps are required to bring about the coloration change.

It very well could be that only a lone, single mutation is required. But that is not known.

And if multiple genetic changes are required, then this quickly transitions from an example of what random mutations can do to an example of what random mutations cannot do. If four mutations are required, then we’ve just found yet another hard failure of evolution. But again, the evolutionists give no hint of this interesting question. If everyone had their “burning curiosity,” (as Clarence Darrow put it) then science would have long since come to an end.

The third problem in casting the dark colored mice as an example of evolution is that the coloration is too precise. The dark colored fur appears on the top of the mice, but not their underbelly. This makes sense since the topside is mainly what is exposed to predators. But in the evolution narrative, there is no fitness advantage to such precision. Darkening the entire mouse would, apparently, work just as well.

Small scale adaptation

Everything we’ve talked about so far is an unknown. Evolutionists are proclaiming a slam dunk, case closed, example when in fact there are many unknowns. Some of them could demolish the evolution narrative altogether.

But there is one big known we haven’t yet mentioned. It is that none of this amounts to evolution in the first place. It would be a deceptive equivocation to label fur coloration change via a few mutations as “evolution” when, in fact, this is nothing more than small scale adaptation.

In their “honest moments,” as Stephen J. Gould once put it, even evolutionists admit that random mutation isn’t enough, and that adaptation mechanisms are not enough, to explain the kind of large scale change evolution requires.

Mice changing fur color does not demonstrate how metabolism, the central nervous system, bones, red blood cells, or any other biological wonder could have arisen by evolution’s random mutations coupled with natural selection.

This is an old myth evolutionists have exploited ever since Darwin. Demonstrate biological change, any biological change no matter how trivial, and claim victory. Evolutionist Steve Jones once claimed that the changes observed in viruses contain Darwin’s “entire argument.” That is a gross equivocation and misrepresentation of the science, designed to mislead audiences.

It is a pathetic canard which evolutionists continue to rely on. In the above video, Sean Carroll states that thanks to these mice, “science has an example of evolution, crystal clear, in every detail.” [6:42-48]

It would be difficult to imagine a more absurd misrepresentation. Mice changing color is not a crystal clear “example of evolution … in every detail.” Not even close. Carroll should be ashamed of himself.

Religion drives science, and it matters.


  1. Well if you define evolution as a change in allele frequency over time within a population, then this is a good example of that.

    The problem is people like Carroll think the opposition says that can't happen with the fixity of species and all. Fixed means fixed- no variation.

    So once they have that straw man firmly erected they can make that triumphant statement. And, to them, once you have allowed for a change in allele frequency then there isn't anything stopping the process from producing the diversity of life.

    "Show us the barrier!" they mightily exclaim, never realizing that science requires them to make a positive case, which they can't.

  2. It's still a mouse! There is no evolution whatsoever. This proves only how flawed their thinking is.

  3. Tsk tsk. Misrepresenting such a clean, easy to read and understand paper. 2017 is looking pretty grim for the DI and the ID-Creationists already.

    1. Tsk, tsk, making accusations without supporting them is a sure sign you are lying.

  4. Good thread.
    many places show this mouse thing. In Hawaii, I think, it goes on .
    Its fine if selection controls mice colouring . camaflouge is a real need and so really is relevant to survival. biology teaches this.
    The genes changing is not demanding evolutiuonism but could be other things.
    Micro evolution does not equal macro evolution.

    Its a interesting point about the white underbelly.
    Creationists already have belief in colour change. its people. Yet not from selection. these mice are not as profound as peoples colour origins.

  5. Dr. Hunter, intriguing article, and very correct. If NDE can at least prove that random mutation is a feasible explanation, that would be great. 'Seems that they haven't.

    You said that Steven J. Gould said, "In their “honest moments..." Where is a citation for that? I find Gould to be one of the most honest secuarlists, but he also wrote a lot of stuff.

    1. bFast:

      If NDE can at least prove that random mutation is a feasible explanation, that would be great. 'Seems that they haven't.

      Right. There is no reason to think RM+NS could not be the mechanism, but it also could have been directed mutations. Evolutionary claims to the contrary (that the evidence and analysis prove RM+NS is the mechanism) are theory-laden and circular.

      Gould writes about evolutionists and their "honest moments" in Chapter 15, "Death and Transfiguration," pp. 240-1, *The Flamingo's Smile*.

      Evolutionists resist such honesty with the knee-jerk "quote mine" rejoinder. Unfortunately Gould's sentiment accurately characterizes the evolutionist's handling of the scientific evidence, which is contrary to their theory. The evidence is manipulated, and only on rare occasion does the truth slip out that the empirical data contradicts the theory.

      To justify their silly "quote mine" defense, evolutionists say it omits the fact that Gould remained an evolutionist--that any such evidential problem was not a show stopper for Gould, but instead that he believed there were solutions to the problems.

      This is a strawman canard. No one ever said Gould doubted there were solutions. That misses the point entirely (strangely enough).

  6. Hey t horton ghostrider - would those mutations of genes supposedly causing the fur to modify color, are those mutations correlated or uncorrelated? Also do you know which genes mutate to cause fur to change?