Darwin's Free Lunch

Most people think that Charles Darwin invented or discovered the theory of Evolution. What he did, in fact, was to propose that, in essence, some things screw before they die, and some things die before they screw.

He called that equation “natural selection.”

Darwin took “change,” as in variation, as a given. It was ‘just so.’ No mechanism was described which might account for the modulation of protoplasm into structured form of every variety (‘most beautiful,’ says Evo-Devo, and I agree). That is, “the theory of evolution” which is to meant to explain the ‘why and how’ of ‘change over time,’ takes as a given ‘change over time.’

Q: What is Darwin’s theory of evolution?

A: Things change over time.

Q: How do they change?

A: Yes, they do.

Darwinists will attempt to deflect this ceaseless engine of change by shifting the answer to some sub-process:

A: “Genetic mutation.”

Well, start your ten-thousand page dissertation here. Is it true? No, and they know that. And it’s really a stand-in. “Change happens because ‘genes make change happen.'”

Q: So, why does change happen?

A: Yes, it does. Genes. Swap. Shift. Run. Fix. Adjust. Many mechanisms, we’re still looking…

And they’ll shift again:

A: “Natural Selection.”

Start another dissertation. Is it true? No. Even the mainstream has a new “natural selection accounts for 8 percent of speciation” clause. In other words, it’s statistically insignificant, by their standards – but it’s all math at that point, and don’t mean a thing anyway, no way…

But “natural selection” isn’t the engine of change. It’s death. It’s the termination of things that have ALREADY changed.

So, why does this magical change occur that produces “endless forms, most beautiful?”

Darwinists can’t answer this question. They’ll fudge around the perimeter. They’ll approach and run away. They’ll shout, they’ll call names, they’ll ask for credentials. They’ll even threaten careers.

In fairness, I put this question to a discussion group on a different site, and received this ‘just-so’ answer…

Response: “As to “why change happens”? Well, it’s pretty simple. It happens because of environmental changes. ”

In other words, change happens because change happens.*

You see how simple it is? ‘Change was always there, so life was inevitable.’

Is there a theory in there? I don’t see one…

Darwinism: Creationism for atheists.

* This answer, by the way, leans on a “Lamarckian” assumption: that species respond forcefully and willfully to their environment – that change is not ‘accidental and chance-driven, but intentional, purposeful, and exhibiting a quality of “mind.”

But they’ll deny all of that, if you ask them.

Liam

14 Comments

  1. This post is a misunderstanding of natural selection and evolution. Life does not emerge from a series of “mistakes” and there’s nothing magical about it.

    Natural selection is the main mechanism of evolution. It works on the natural variations inherent in any group of individuals of the same species. This natural variation is an obvious fact not in dispute – it’s a characteristic of every population of every species. (Otherwise we would all look and behave alike.) What Darwin recognized is that any explanation of life and evolution needs to account for natural variation – its role and why it exists. That’s exactly what his theory of natural selection does.

    Depending on environment, climate change, geographical location and isolation, sexual selection (female choice of mates), and other factors including genetics, some variations will be more advantageous for the individual than others, and such individuals will, generally speaking, be more likely to reproduce than others, leading to the continuation and possibly spread of their traits and variations into the rest of the population. For example, white rabbits will do well in a snowy environment, but if you move the same population to a warmer climate, the few rare individuals who are already a bit darker or spotted (for example) will quickly out-reproduce their white cousins and replace them in a few generations. It’s simply because the white ones won’t survive predation as well, so most won’t live long enough to reproduce. That’s all natural selection is.

    Darwin derived natural selection by studying artificial selection of domestic animals and pigeons, and pointing out that the same thing was almost certainly happening in nature. The only difference is that Humans are the intentional designer for artificial selection, while Natural selection is a blind designer. Natural selection is not random because it tends to discard unfavourable traits (for that specific environment at that specific time) and retain favourable ones, eventually resulting in a “fine-tuned” species that is best suited for living in its niche. But always, some individuals in that population will be better or less suited than others because there is always a range of variation within any population. If circumstances change, different variations might become more successful and the species can change again. Species will tend to stay the same until there is some kind of environmental change or other new factor that makes another kind of trait more favourable to survival.

    I suspect you have never read The Origin of Species, but it is truly a classic, and I recommend it. Darwin lays out his evidence and arguments very strongly. His concern at the time was to refute the prevailing theory of directed creation by God. Over and over again in the book, Darwin takes pains to show how his theory of natural selection explains something far better than the creation theory. The reason his theory was accepted is because it was so carefully and thoroughly argued, with evidence, and because he was able to satisfactorily refute the idea of God as designer. His book was controversial and continues to be because he showed that God was not necessary, and that the mechanism of natural selection was perfectly capable of blind design over long periods of time.

    I also recommend Richard Dawkins’ “The Blind Designer” for a more modern understanding of natural selection, including the role of genetics. Darwin did not have the benefit of modern genetics to support his theory; that came later after the 20th century re-discovery of Mendel’s pea experiments, ironically done at the same time Darwin was formulating his theory.

  2. If I may, I’d like to also clarify the role of genetics and mutations, because it seems you have some misunderstandings there too. I’m not a scientist myself and don’t claim to have an in-depth understanding, but I’ve studied the evolution issue quite a lot so I do know something about it.

    Our natural variations are products of differences in our genes and how they’re expressed. Genes are either expressed or silent. Silent genes can be recessive or “junk” (i.e.,never expressed even on the species level). Expressed genes may act alone to express a trait, but generally genes are combined in various ways to produce whatever – hazel eyes, short stature, a dislike for spinach, a higher risk for breast cancer, or whatever the variation happens to be. Gene expression is also regulated, so the same gene in one species can produce different effects in another species, usually because it’s expressed at a different time in development and/or for a different length of time (that’s why for example, chimps have exaggerated facial features and longer arms than humans, even though we share almost all of our DNA).

    The pool of variations in a species is the raw material of evolutionary change. Variation itself is produced by genetic changes – mutations. Genes are virtually always replicated accurately, but mistakes do occur. The rate of mutation can actually be measured in a species, which makes mutation an observable fact. On rare occasions, mutations may be lethal or harmful, but most are “benign” and have little or no effect – that basically means that the variation it produces is minor or inconsequential and has no effect on the individual’s survivability. However, things can always change to make a particular variation more or less adaptable in any given circumstance, and some new mutations may provide an immediate advantage to the individual in its environment. In those latter cases, the individual will then have a slightly higher likelihood of surviving and reproducing compared to others in its group, thereby passing the mutation onto their offspring and increasing its presence in the population over time. Given enough time, that can give rise to new sub-species and species. The fossil record and genetics both provide strong evidence this has actually occurred – that now-dissimilar species are fundamentally related to each other and have a common ancestor – they can measure the degree of similarity in the gene sequences, and even determine when a species branched off from another. New mutations are not a necessity for speciation – only variation is. New species often arise when a population becomes geographically isolated from other populations of the same species. If they are under different environmental pressures than their far-flung cousins, their pool of variations will become more and more different over time and they will become a different species – which basically just means they cannot or will not reproduce with one another.

    I’m sorry to post such long responses, but it really bothers me to see such awful misunderstandings of evolution, especially from someone who otherwise seems very intelligent and has raised so many good questions on the HIV/AIDS issue. I hope you’re willing to keep an open mind and actually make an effort to understand and consider the evidence. Thanks.

  3. Hi Joyce,

    I’ll post your comments, but your ideas are strictly textbook, and they’re out of date.

    “Variation itself is produced by genetic changes – mutations. Genes are virtually always replicated accurately, but mistakes do occur.”

    Nobody doing any serious work in evolutionary genetics goes with the old ‘accident’ theory anymore. Look up neo-Lamarckism, hervs, exosomes, and read deeply.

    cheers.

    Liam

    ps – I’ve read Darwin. He’s an asshole.

  4. ps – Darwin wasn’t wrong because he was an asshole.

    I call him an asshole, because he was so plainly amateur in his writings. Such a solipsistic set of notions.

    “Why is there change? Because nature has an inherent tendency to change.”

    Some theory. The rest, the ‘selection’ aspect, is tautological. It’s a series of answers begging questions. Read his work, look for the engine of change.

    It is this: “A natural tendency to vary, to variability, etc.”

    Joyce, that’s not a theory, that’s a description of the obvious.

    If you want to raise your level of discourse on evolution, I will direct you first through Margulis – read all of her major work; then venture into Jablonsky and Lamb, then Steele, and get beyond the Darwinian worldview.

    If you don’t want a limited worldview, get beyond your prejudices.

    And read Darwin’s critics.

    cheers,

    L

  5. After a long and painful email exchange with Ms. Arthur, she finally returned to admit the following:

    “Anyway, to be honest I have not kept up with the evolutionary issue over the last 10 or 15 years because I moved onto other issues. (I’m an activist for abortion rights and sex worker rights.) And genetics is a weak area for me because it’s so complicated and I don’t have endless time to learn about it. But I didn’t realize that the role of random mutations in evolution has taken such a backseat, and I find all the growth in knowledge in genetics quite exciting and want to learn more. I’ve reserved a couple of books from your list you sent me from my local library, and also noticed that Margulis has co-authored a new book on Symbiogenesis which I want to check out. So I do want to thank you for pushing me to update my knowledge.”

    (Note, and for the record – this is not a complete transcript of her note. She still ‘has doubts’ about my understanding of “natural selection.” Whatever that concept is supposed to do in the fluid landscape of the ever-reassembling genome).

    Well, Joyce, you’re welcome.

    I am glad she (and maybe you, dear reader!) will go to look at the historical critics of Darwin, of Huxley and Mayr, the fallen idols (soon to be forgotten entirely) of the Neo-Darwinian ‘synthesis.’

    And then to read today’s pioneers – Dr. Mae Wan Hoe, Jablonsky and Lamb, Ted Steele, Lynn Margulis, and blessedly removed from the reductionists, Rupert Sheldrake.

    But, why is it so bloody difficult for academics, for “liberal” supporters of ideas, to allow room for growth in their understanding?

    Should we really believe that somewhere in the 1800s, locked in that technological, social, cultural, historical worldview, a guy on a boat managed to solve the great riddle of life? Without microscopes, without space exploration, without undersea exploration, without computers, without electricity?

    Without an understanding of the electromagnetic nature of space, and of human biology?

    No, he didn’t. Charles Darwin did not solve anything at all – except to create a further distance between the Church and academia – which was certainly his right. But his theory is crap. Pure and un-distilled bilge.

    And we ‘moderns’ have not solved the great riddle since then. We are not doing so now. And that is the point.

    We’ll always have a greater need to admit that “we do not know” how life really works, than to claim to be experts, un-refutable, and ‘peer-approved.’

    This will always be especially true in the worldview allowed for (or restricted by) mechanical reductionism, which does not allow for, or understand, the electromagnetic/energetic nature of life.

  6. Glad I am not the only one who thought it sounded like she was quoting directly from a textbook. Reminded me of doing reports in the fifth grade. Just read a book and copy it verbatim.

    My main problem with Darwin and other similar ideas is that they seem heavy on theory and light on evidence. It really comes off as guesswork. That there can be NO OTHER EXPLANATION! It’s the Highlander variety of science. There can be only one explantion. And it must be the one they are pushing.

    And just because some aspects may prove to be correct, such as the white rabbits versus mottled rabbits, it doesn’t make the everything correct. Yet we take a theory and decide it is all perfect, or all garbage.

    Something else that bugs me is that during the time of Darwin, there had already been a great deal of colonization of the world, migrations of people to new lands, spreading of diseases and so on. In a short span of 300-400 years from when colonization started to when Darwin and his theories came about, so much had changed for various habitats that it was almost unfair to rely on anything Darwin was telling us.

    New diseases being introduced to The New World wiped out a lot of people as well as local species of animals. The Maori arrived in New Zealand around 1200CE and wiped out a local flightless bird there that was the source of food for a giant eagle. The arrival of the Maori therefore radically altered the local structure of the environment, which had little to do with natural selection or variation or gene pools. So you can’t say those eagles died off because they failed to change the color of their feathers. They died because their food source was wiped out. No genes can account for that. And I think there are thousands if not millions of species that have died off due to the same rather random set of circumstanes. A change in the environment.

    Even today, species are constantly needing to change in order to adjust to human migration. As humans build a new strip mall on top of some large empty field, which just so happens to be the prime hunting ground for nearby hawks looking for mice and snakes… those hawks, as well as the snakes and mice need to go find elsewhere to live, elsewhere to feed, and they may have to travel incredible distances their species never had to travel before. This all happens suddenly. Where just a thousand years ago, it didn’t really happen at all.

    So to take a position on Darwin when Darwin may not have taken in to account the impact civilization may have played on what we see today and instead chalked it up to gene pools and so on, might be a bad idea. Just think of the radical changes to North America that have resulted from just three hundred years of European settlement. To start basing conclusions on how you see the environment today, when such results are based on radical change and not the norm, could be painting the wrong picture. That’s how I see it anyway. I just feel that so many theories today leap to their conclusions without knowing enough about what they leaped over to have arrived at anything accurate.

    • Like Kepler, Newton and Galileo (minds to whom he cannot be compared, as a thinker!), Darwin also lived before the advent of human-controlled electricity. With no conception of the electromagnetic nature of space, of plasma, of the cell….

      How could he, using a strictly ‘black wooden box’ pulley-and-string model of the inside of the body, devise and understand the means and method by which life comes to be, and further alters itself where it seeks to?

      If life is electromagnetic in nature (and it is), then the mechanics of reductionism will never find the answers to their questions, as long as they ignore electromagnetism.

      Astronomy is currently lost in Newton’s 17th Century… a gravity only model. Biology, or evolutionary genetics, is lost in the same place –

      Without an understanding of a universal field theory – instantaneous transfer of energy, information, etc, along EM field lines (as is gravity – faster than light, reaching from earth to sun instantaneously) – then they’ll just be staring at molecules in a stream – but missing the stream itself, and its source.

      In my opinion, of course…!

      • Hi Liam:
        I came to my opinion on how life is powered on this planet after starting to receive acupuncture in the mid 90’s for a degenerating disc in my back. I simply asked myself how an acupuncture needle would work. Almost immediately I realized an acupuncture needle is just a small lightning rod. The key similarity is that they both are pointed conductors. From high school physics, pointed conductors flow electrons on or off better than flat conductors. Also from high school physics, when there is no thunderstorm, in a clear sky, a lightning rod flows electrons to the sky towards the positively charged ionosphere. So, by comparison, an acupuncture needle would also flow electrons to the sky if it had a source of electrons. I then concluded that the stagnation the Chinese try to relieve with the acupuncture needle would simply be electrical resistance. So, the health of our cells depend on the flow of electrons. If that flow diminishes I reasoned that the cells in the area would degenerate but if the flow was renewed even temporarily with an acupuncture needle the cells would regenerate somewhat with each treatment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the healthy cell also is a better conductor than the degenerated cell.
        After figuring this out, I went to the library to see if I could find evidence that I was wrong. The first book I read was called “Nature’s Electricity”. I read it to check on my recollection of high school physics regarding the ionosphere. I got more than I was looking for. It pointed out that the surface of the earth is negatively charged so electrons have two reasons to head to the ionosphere. It also provided an example from about 300 years ago demonstrating that trees flow electrons to the sky on clear days just like lightning rods. It then pointed out that all the vegetation does the same thing. I figured nature isn’t stupid so that life would probably make use of this free electrical energy passing through it.
        The second book that I read from the library was “The Body Electric” by Robert O. Becker. (If you have not read this book yet, I would strongly suggest you do as it will strengthen your argument that life is electromagnetically based.) I learned that bodies are electrically mapped, limb regeneration in lower animals is electrically controlled from the dedifferentiation of cells to form a blastema to the regrowth of the limb, and bones are made up of a p-type semi-conductor like apatite mineral and a piezoelectric n-type semi-conductor like collagen. The apatite mineral is electrically connected to the collagen by pairs of copper atoms acting as electrical pegs. Bones are shaped by the stress put on them and the mechanism for this is electrically controlled.
        Interestingly Becker reported on work done by an endocrinologist named Brown who took oysters from the east coast to his lab in Illinois. People believe that oysters open their shells in response to being covered by water when the tide comes in. Brown found that, at first, the oysters he put in the aquarium in Illinois which was always filled with water still opened and closed their shells at the same time as they would have on the east coast where they came from. Over a few weeks, however, the oysters changed their opening and closing their shells in time with a tide in their new location as if they were at the edge of a sea. To me that indicates that if life is electrically based, then gravity is an electrical force. Going back to high school physics again, I remembered an experiment where an ebony rod was rubbed with cat fur and the rod took on an electrical charge. When the rod was moved close to little scraps of paper, the scraps were first attracted to the rod jumping on to it and then they jumped off. The explanation was that the charged rod (I can’t remember which charge but it doesn’t matter) either repelled or attracted electons on the pieces of paper making the near side of the paper the opposite charge and the far side of the paper the same charge. With the near side of the overall neutral paper being closer, if only slightly, than the far side, it was sufficient to cause the paper to be attracted to the rod. When the paper hit the rod the overall charge of the rod and the piece of paper would become the same and the paper would fly off. I would think the first part of this experiment could be how gravity works. (This could explain astrology if you change astrology to the moment of conception rather than the time of birth.)
        Enough for now.
        Gary Wilson

      • Wonderful, marvelous post. I am in agreement in too many places to state them all, and even with masses of over-riding interest. Will be writing more on it soon. Will read the Becker book ASAP.

        Thanks Gary!

      • I was saying to Liam, but sure, jump in!
        more views, the better.

      • When I was taught Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in school, I had no reason to question it. Now, however, from studying the relationship between health and soil fertility I now question it.
        Perhaps the best way to see the relationship between health and soil fertility is to look a the effect of the deficiency of one mineral in the soil. An example is provided from chapter 6 in Volume II of “The Albrecht Papers”. A farmer was having trouble with a high mortality rate (23 to 41%) in newborn calves. The high mortality rate in chicks and piglets had caused the farmer to abandon the poultry and pig breeding programs on the farm. The dairy cows suffered from milk fever and mastitis.

        “Calves were born weak, with slow reflexes and no appetite, dietary scours developed in 100% of the cases; 50% of the cases were accompanied by a low type of pneumonia with much coughing; calves that died invariably went down with convulsions and no calf ever to go into the convulsion stage lived beyond six hours. Strong disagreeable odors were present in the stalls.” The solution was provided by the calves chewing on a coat of plaster on the barn walls. The walls had been plastered first by a coat of calcium lime plaster and then with a second coat of dolomitic plaster that did not cover the entire area that the first coat did. When the calves came into the barn they chewed on the dolomite plaster while ignoring the calcium plaster. This prompted testing the soil on the farm which revealed a magnesium deficiency. Dolomitic limestone was added to the soil and dolomitic limestone instead of calcium limestone in the feed as a mineral supplement.

        Within two weeks the disagreeable odor in the barn was becoming less, the calves had an increase in their thirst, they became alert and the scours condition cleared from the older calves. When the finish coat of dolomitic plaster was applied to the uncovered areas it was untouched by the calves. Mastitis disappeared from the cows, conception was improved and calves were strong and normal and did not go through the scours stage. The corn crop did not fire so readily, grain yields were increased and alfalfa went through the winter better.
        My choice of this example is to lead to my position that is in agreement with the reported last words of Louis Pastuer, that the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything. I agree with this even if he didn’t say it.

        An example of a changed terrain from Andre Voisin’s “Soil Grass and Cancer”, chapter 43. Radio-active radiation destroys cells by creating in them large quantities of hydrogen peroxide. The enzyme catalase protects the cell by destroying hydrogen peroxide in the cell. After the first atom bomb test at Bikini, certain areas of the sea were highly radioactive for several years. Surprisingly apparently normal looking algae grew in these areas. “Analysis of the enzymes of the plants, however, revealed their secret: their cells contained six times more catalase than normal algae. They had succeeded in adapting themselves to their environment by multiplying within their cells the catalase that made possible the destruction of the excess hydrogen peroxide created by the excess of excess radio-activity in the water.”

        If evolution is a series of random changes over time that results in the survival of the fittest, was this an example of Darwin’s evolution? Or, perhaps, is this an example of point of view that the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything?

        Beneficial microbes are one of the current hot topics in organic soil fertility additions. Adding beneficial microbes to soil has resulted in crop improvements. One company involved in this is Soil Foodweb Inc. They even offer a soil test to test soil for these microbes. Several years ago a soil consultant in Virginia threw some paramagnetic rock on a row of corn. Sometime shortly after he took two soil samples and sent them to Soil Foodweb for testing. One sample was from the soil where he threw the paramagnetic rock (sample #1) and the other was from the next row where there was no paramagnetic rock (sample #2). In the test report the active bacterial biomass was higher in sample #1, the total bacterial biomass was slightly higher in sample #1, the active fungal biomass in sample #1 was twice as high as in sample #2. The percent mycorrhizal colonization of roots was 16 in sample #1 compared to 6 in sample #2. The conclusion in the report was, “In this pair, the paramagnetic treatment appeared to have many beneficial effects on microbial life in the soil.” Does this example not support the point of view that the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything?

        Another example is provided by the application of paramagnetic rock. A farmer in western Michigan spread one ton of paramagnetic rock on one acre of a two acre field of sweet corn. It was if a line was drawn across the field in the difference in the vegetation. The part that matters here though, is the drive row down the side of the field where no corn was planted. Weeds are allowed to grow in drive rows. Interestingly, in this drive row the weeds growing there changed at the change of rock in the row to no rock in the row. Where there was no rock applied, the weeds were coarse grasses with a small amount of redroot pigweed but where the rock was applied there was a greater amount of redroot pigweed along with lambsquarters. There was no lambsquarters where there was no rock. As with the microbe, I would say this is an example, imo, of the plant is nothing, the terrain is everything.

        If you accept that the microbe is nothing, the terrain is nothing and the plant is nothing, the terrain is everything, I suggest the dinosaur was nothing, the terrain was everything. So I would not say the dinosaur is extinct but rather it is not here at the moment because the terrain does not support it.

        The terrain, as I see it, is the combination of the available mineral content of the soil and the electromagnetic status of the soil. This terrain, again, as I see it, is the controlling force for both the creation of new life and the extinction of species. I see nature (whatever that is) is intelligent in the creation or extinction of species. I don’t see random, unexplained mutations as an explanation of either the creation or extinction of species.

        Apparently it is supposed that the first life was created in primordial soup with perhaps a flash of lighting. First I would say that no lightning was required if there was an ionosphere at the time it was created. The low current flow of electrons from the soil to the sky would be sufficient, lightning might actually be overdoing it and could have caused fried microbes. My position is that this creation of a single celled life form is likely not a unique event of creation. I see no reason why single celled life forms could not have been in continuous creation since then and creation of single celled life forms could be happening now.

        Gary Wilson

  7. This reminds me of the saying that the Earth created mankind because she needed plastic.

    It is hard for a lot of people to imagine the Earth being “alive” on any level. The idea that a complex mechanism like the Earth could heal itself or be healed, or in some way adapt, is a little foreign to many peoples way of thinking and looking at things.

    That changing the content of local soil even slightly makes it capable or not capable of supporting certain life should seem pretty simple and logical, it is hard for people to extrapolate and think this applies across the entire planet to affect us all.

    In the last decade we’ve learned that life can exist in very hot and very cold climates we previously thought impossible, finding larvae near hot gas vents in the ocean and so on. Yet such findings don’t cause us to question the basis for our theories, leaving us to think we were wrong… like we didn’t quite understand our own theories? We just keep going with them despite learning new things that should have proved to us we were wrong, yet somehow didn’t.

    I don’t fault Darwin personally. His theory was pretty exotic for the time. That he might not have been able to see, or conceive of the environment adapting to support life rather than a species adapting. Or both adapting, having sensed on some level we have yet to grasp, that a change of sorts was needed.

    I never considered that dinosaurs might not be here right now because the terrain doesn’t support them. I have been leaning more towards the “Expanding Earth” version of things, and thus think the Earth was capable of supporting Dinosaurs back then because it was smaller and different than it is today. I am not sure if that is any different than the “Different Terrain” considerations, but I am willing to consider it.

    But as time goes by, I am less and less apt to believe in theories developed hundreds or even thousands of years ago, when we know more today. It seems science is less and less able to start from scratch and create theories based solely on today, rather than try and continue and expand on outdated theories. That because we have not stumbled across a Unified Theory, and because we know a Unified Theory isn’t going to work well with Einstein and Newton as they are today, why not just discard all the old Scientism and try and create some new theory of everything? Which will still probably just be more Scientism, but at least by discarding everything, just as nobody really worships Zeus and Apolo any more, we might be able to laugh at our earlier beliefs. I already laught at many of our present ones.

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