Two items appear below:

1 Natural Selection Does Not Explain Evolution 129        Jerry Bergman
2 Natural Selection Does Explain Evolution        131        John H Williams



Natural Selection Does Not Explain Evolution

Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 129, 2009 November)


Introduction

Natural selection is an old idea popularized by Charles Darwin in his book titled The Origin of Species published in 1859. Although hailed as a revolutionary idea, Darwin actually simply applied the well-known fact of artificial selection that has been practiced for centuries by farmers to the natural world. Darwin knew that breeders interbreed animals and plants with the traits that they desire in order to produce a strain that has a greater level of the traits that they want, such as cows that produce large amounts of milk.

By repeating this process, often by extensive inbreeding, after many generations a life form with an extreme level of the desired trait can often be produced. For example, if a breeder wants a seedless fruit he breeds those plants that produce fruit with the fewest seeds with each other. By inbreeding in this way breeders eventually were able to produce fruit that had few or no seeds.

Darwin then concluded that the same selective force must also occur in the wild except the reverse — humans select for traits, nature selects against traits. This process, called survival of the fittest, was at the heart of his theory.

Darwin knew that certain traits helped an animal to survive, such as the ability to outrun enemies or attract mates. These animals had an advantage in the wild and, consequently, were better able to compete and more likely to survive and have more offspring than those lacking the traits that helped them to compete in nature, enabling those traits that were an advantage in the wild to become more common. Darwin saw this mechanism as the basis for forming new species in the wild. Instead of intelligent selection as humans achieved, selection occurred as a result of the struggle for life by eliminating those life forms that were less fit.

 Natural selection, though, does not provide evidence for evolution because it can select only for what exists. The problem for evolution is not the survival of the fittest, but the arrival of the fittest. The only explanation still on the table today for the creation of new genetic information is mutations. Mutations are mistakes that occur when the genetic machinery copies genes, such as during cell division or reproduction, or damage that occurs to genes caused by mutagens, such as radiation from radioactive substances as plutonium or x-rays.

Survival of the fittest does have a function in life, primarily as a conserving role. If a mutation occurs that results in a life form being less fit, natural selection tends to cause that life form to die earlier or not be born, consequently not allowing it to pass on its genes to the next generation. In theory this effect both reduces the mutation load in all life and prunes out inferior animals.


Clear limits Exist in Both Artificial Breeding and Natural Selection

A major problem is that clear limits exist in what can be produced with artificial selection and, likewise, clear limits exist with natural selection. Breeders have been able to breed larger apples but have not been able to produce apples that are larger than a mature watermelon. Nor have they been able to breed a horse-sized animal from a dog.

The reason breeding and natural selection are able to produce new varieties in existing life forms is because a great deal of genetic variation exists in all life forms, as is obvious to all dog fanciers — all modern dogs came from the wolf kind, an achievement due to the 6,000 years or more of breeding efforts by humans.

Darwin believed that an almost unlimited amount of variation is possible, a conclusion that we know today is false. Darwin also accepted the Larmakian idea of pangenesis, an idea that has also now been disproved (Bergman, 2006a). Pangenesis theory concludes that the environment can change the genetic information in the sex cells called gametes to allow animals to pass on to their offspring traits, such as knowledge, that they acquired during their lifetime.

The only viable possibility left to create new genetic variety is mutations, a conclusion that also has been disproven, leaving no means of producing new significant variations as molecule to man evolution demands (Bergman, 2006). Mutations can produce only minor changes, such as blue eyes in humans and, as documented by Behe (2007), clear limits exist in their ability to produce variety.

The fact that a great deal of inborn variety exists in all life has actually been a major evidence proving that the Genesis kinds are stable within clear limits, as is illustrated by the following observation:

If the various breeds of dogs did not exist and a paleontologist found fossils of animals similar to dachshunds, greyhounds, mastiffs, and chihuahuas, there is no question that they would be considered different species. Indeed, the differences in size and shape exhibited by these breeds are greater than those between members of different genera in the family Canidae (Raven, et. al., 2005, p. 459).

Neo-Darwinists often incorrectly assume that this inborn variety which natural selection and breeders select from is due to mutations instead of the natural variety typical of the living world, as is clearly the case with dogs.


Conclusions

Natural selection means only that fitter animals are better able to survive in a natural environment, a redundant statement somewhat like saying rich persons have a lot of money. By definition, the more fit animals have a survival advantage, an idea that does not help to explain the arrival of the fittest, and thus fails to explain the origin of species as Darwin claimed (Bergman, 2005). Darwin only explained the survival of the species, and neither he nor anyone else has been able to explain the arrival of the species.


References.

Behe, Michael. 2007. The Edge of Evolution. New York: The Free Press.

Bergman, Jerry.  2005. "Darwinism and the Deterioration of the Genome." CRSQ. September 2005. 42(2):104-114.

_______ . 2006.  "Pangenesis as a Source of New Genetic Information: The History of a Now Disproven Theory." Rivista di Biologia/ Biology Forum.  99(3):425-444.

________ . 2006a. "The Elimination of Mutations by the Cell's Elaborate Protein Quality Control System: A Major Problem for Neo-Darwinism" CRSQ. 43(2):68-74.

Raven, P., G. Johnson, J. Losos, and S. Singer. 2005. Biology. NY: McGraw Hill.






NATURAL SELECTION DOES EXPLAIN EVOLUTION

"THUS DISBELIEF CREPT OVER ME…BUT WAS AT LAST COMPLETE." (C Darwin, 1839, Autobiography)
       
John H Williams

(Investigator 131, 2010 March)


Jerry Bergman and I addressed the process of natural selection (NS) in #129. We differ strongly on its relationship to evolution, something that Bergman doesn't believe in, and in this article I offer a brief critique of Bergman's version, while providing material in support of mine.

On page 14 Bergman gave a veiled hint as to what he believes occurred in the very recent past:
"The fact that a great deal of inborn variety exists in all life has actually been a major evidence proving that the Genesis kinds are stable within clear limits."

It's unclear what "stable within clear limits" and "inborn variety" mean, or how the latter constitutes "major evidence" which apparently proves something about the kinds created by a deity in a mythical location. Bergman offers no evidence to support this sweeping and unscientific statement!

KINDS STARTED, THEN STARTED OVER

Bergman believes that all life forms on Earth today are derived from the very same kinds created during creation week, after which a vengeful tyrant decided to drown all but eight humans and an unknown number of two-by-two "unclean kinds" and "clean beasts by sevens" (KJV, Ch 7), including a menagerie of dinosaurs on show at Ken Ham's Creation Museum, to start over, courtesy of a "600 year old" Noah. For example:
"All modern dogs came from the wolf kind, an achievement due to the 6,000 years or more of breeding efforts by humans."
For Bergman, the wolf's a Genesis kind, and 6,000 years is all the time he believes has been available for his version of 'evolution', with no mention of fossil evidence or the eons required to produce the grey wolf.

 
WOLF EVOLUTION

The 'Modern wolf' appeared about 1.5 million years ago as Canis edwardi in the early Pleistocene. There was also a C dirus, with a huge head and big teeth which lived alongside the smaller grey wolf (C lupus). C dirus became extinct during the last very severe ice age about 8000 years ago. Fossil evidence from the Miocene (4.5 - 9 mya), shows when the wolf genus split from the ancestors of foxes, while in North America around 1.8mya they'd split from the coyotes (prairie wolf). All 14 living subgroups of the Canidae can be traced back 300 million years to mammal-like reptiles of the late Carboniferous. (Modern dogs can be traced back on the basis of their DNA sequences to a very small founder population of only four wolves).

One could debate the details on wolf origin given the above, but, unless there's been some giant conspiracy amongst geologists, the fossils, stratigraphy and radiometric dating don't lie, and the version presented by Bergman must be viewed as the work of a biblical literalist who also happens to have multiple science degrees. Having presented the wolf as a very recent creation kind, I'd expect a reputable scientist to at least attempt to refute scientific evidence which doesn't support his contention.

Dr Bergman is inclined to leaven his non-Investigator articles with Biblical quotations (see below): it should be obvious that biblical quotes are not valid in articles pertaining to scientific matters, and it would be useful if he writes either as a religious Young-Earth-Creationist/Intelligent-Design-apologist or as a scientist.

I've wondered why wild animals such as the wolf were included in the Great Drowning, as they're unlikely to have been complicit in human 'imperfection'. Also, how were the "fowls of the air" dealt with, and how were the lucky twos and sevens collected? One supposes that all aqueous creatures barely noticed the dramatic rise in sea level: did they survive as per, or were they judged too, and miraculously reduced to breeding pairs?

A forty day cataclysmic occurrence is supposed to have happened only a thousand years or so before the emergence of the river valley empires of the Fertile Crescent, leaving no time for those kinds to evolve, fossilize and become extinct, compared to the 3.8 billion year span of life on Earth. To fully understand Bergman's cosmology, and put in context his article in #129, here's a sample from In Six Days:

Only instantaneous creation of all the necessary parts as a functioning unit can produce life (Gen 1:24-27). God created Adam as a fully-functioning mature man, able to reproduce his kind. The Sun, Moon and stars were created fully functioning, moving in their orbits. The human cell is the most complex machine ever known, far more complex than the most sophisticated computer, forcing many to conclude that life could not have evolved, but must have been created instantaneously as a fully-fledged unit by God's design (Psalms 36: 6-9).

(Q&A: How long would it have taken that sky god to make a human being containing 400 trillion cells? A nonosecond — it never happened!)

According to Bergman, 'NS Does Not Explain Evolution' (#129): so what does? For him it can't be NS, apart from artificial selection via breeding over the centuries, since he believes that no naturalistic evolution happened, but creation did, the argument from incredulity being invoked and apparently "forcing many" to dismiss evolution!  


"SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST"


Bergman several times referred to the catch-phrase "survival of the fittest", coined in 1864 by Herbert Spence in his Principles of Biology, and used by Darwin in his 5th edition of On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, "at the heart of his (Darwin's) theory". It was intended as an expression that would succinctly characterize the "preservation of favored races in the struggle for life" (the latter part of Darwin's book title), which unfortunately developed into the repellant and racist Social Darwinism and the eugenics movement. It would have been far better if that misleading, incomplete and unscientific phrase had not been invented! Bergman is almost certainly fully aware of its problems and implications, and he ought not to have used it.


NOT THE FASTEST, HIGHEST, STRONGEST


Survival of the fittest should not be confused with the Olympic motto, 'Citius, Altius, Fortius'. Fitness is best defined as the average reproductive output of a class of genetic variants in a gene pool (heritability) and should not be confused with being physically strong or fit. Survival of the fit enough is more accurate and pertinent.  Berkeley University's Evolution 101 offers this example:
"1 Assume that there is a variation of traits in a population of (let's say) beetles, in which some are green and some are brown.
2 There will be differential reproduction, since not all individuals get to reproduce to their full potential: green beetles are eaten more by birds, so will reproduce at a lesser rate than brown beetles.
3 Heredity will favor the survival of brown baby beetles, and that trait has a genetic basis.
4 The more advantageous trait, brown coloration, which allows the beetle to have more offspring, becomes more common in the population. If this process continues, eventually all beetles will be brown."
Books have been written about NS, and any article can never give more than a cursory explanation. There are outstandingly good sources on the net, one of which is the work of Douglas Futuyma, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at New York State University and author of Natural Selection: How Evolution Works:
www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/futuyma.html  

NS is one of the key driving forces in the evolutionary process, the one which makes sense and which fits all the available evidence from paleontology, genetics, biochemistry and allied fields. Science, biological science in particular, rejects the bizarre notion that a human, wolf, panda or whale appeared suddenly in finished form. Young Earth apologists like Bergman occupy a strange biblically-defined universe, busily writing articles and books, participating in conferences within a denialist cultural groupthink in which the silliest questions (see mine above) are answered to their satisfaction and published in journals such as Creation Research Science Quarterly (CRSQ), "peer reviewed" by creationists, for creationists!


EVOLUTION IS A FACT, AS IS DAWKINS

In my opinion, the best reply to Bergman's 'creationist biology' is from a distinguished biologist whose much-acclaimed books have explained so much to so many readers, Richard Dawkins:
"Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious debate, beyond sane, informed intelligent doubt."
 "I have yet to meet a serious biologist who can point to an alternative to natural selection as a driving force of adaptive evolution – evolution towards positive improvement." (P8, The Greatest Show on Earth)
"For centuries the most powerful argument for God's existence was…the argument from design: living things were so beautiful, elegant and apparently purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer. But Darwin provided an explanation. His way is a gradual, incremental improvement starting from simple beginnings and working up step by tiny incremental step to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection. Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain… It should warn us against ever again assuming that because something is complicated, God must have done it."
(In debate with Christian geneticist, Francis Collins).
Is Dr Bergman who has written extensively on NS:

1.    A serious biologist" able to refute the material on NS in Dawkins' latest book?
2.    Able to discount, for example, the fossil record on wolf, whale or panda genera as having not evolved but instead made instantaneously?


REFERENCES

Ayala FJ (2006), Darwin and Intelligent Design, Facets Press, Minneapolis
Bergman J, (2007) Essay, In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Evolution, ed Ashton J.
Darwin C, (1958) Autobiography of Charles Darwin (Ed. N Barlow) Norton, New York
Dawkins R, (2009) The Greatest Show On Earth, Bantam Press, London
Dawkins R and Collins F, God vs Science, Time Magazine, 13/9/06
Futuyma D, Natural Selection: How Evolution Works (op cit)
Updike J, Extreme Dinosaurs, in Big, Bad, Bizarre Dinosaurs, National Geographic, December 2007
Van Wyhe J, Darwin, Andre Deutsch 2008


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