Crucial Developments

Previously, I showed that Darwin’s strict gradualism was actually the strongest non-teleological position that was possible. If natural selection was omnipresent and law-like, and scrutinized everything to the extent that all variations were adaptations, then we could be confident in attributing any appearance of design to the blind watchmaker. In other words, the blind watchmaker becomes the default position (which, if you think about it, was Richard Dawkins whole argument).

Yet thanks to both neutral theory, and the massive amount of new information from genomics, we now can be confident that this strongest possible non-teleological position does not exist. Let me quote from Eugene Koonin’s conclusion in “Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics” (Nucleic Acids Research, 2009, 1–24).

From Table 1:

Proposition of Darwinism-Modern Synthesis

The variations fixed by natural selection are ‘infinitesimally small’. Evolution adheres to gradualism.

Current status

False. Even single gene duplications and HGT of single genes are by no means ‘infinitesimally small’ let alone deletion or acquisition of larger regions, genome rearrangements, whole-genome duplication, and most dramatically, endosymbiosis. Gradualism is not the principal regime of evolution.

Proposition of Darwinism-Modern Synthesis

Fixation of (rare) beneficial changes by natural selection is the main driving force of evolution that, generally, produces increasingly complex adaptive features of organisms; hence progress as a general trend in evolution.

Current status

False. Natural (positive) selection is an important factor of evolution but is only one of several fundamental forces and is not quantitatively dominant; neutral processes combined with purifying selection dominate evolution. Genomic complexity, probably evolved as a ‘genomic syndrome’ cause by weak purifying selection in small population and not as an adaptation. There is no consistent trend towards increasing complexity in evolution, and the notion of evolutionary progress is unwarranted.

Evolution is NOT about infinitesimally small variations. What’s more, neutral processes combined with purifying selection dominate evolution. These are very important developments. Unfortunately, some teleologists may try to make these developments cast doubt on evolution itself. But that is a form of over-reach that fails and, in turn, allows people to turn these developments into the familiar, but tired and misguided dispute of “evolution vs. design.” The significance of these scientific developments lies elsewhere…much closer to the heart of The Design Matrix.

Let’s get to that next.

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2 responses to “Crucial Developments

  1. This is an excellent break down of current evolution science.

    I agree also the debate is not evolution versus design. Because Intelligence afterall can program guided evolution.

    What I am not sure of is the amount of linear evolution. I currently do not believe in one long evolutionary event over time. But in multi-linear events like seeding events. I believe the fossil record reflects this. I think Gould was onto something, but possibly misinterpreted the gaps as vast leaps of rapid informtion appearing as a result of accumulative storage. Instead, I think the gaps may represent seedings that are separate events.

    Due to new discovered mechanisms as you discuss, I’m not sure how past history can ever be resolved accurately in any model, gradual or not. Research discovers homologous information. This can allow for common design. I think what is seen in evolutionary history research is trending towards more myth than fact. I think making phylogentic trees is partial myth, partial truth. In the sense that if a materialist only position it is merely guess work, whereas if from a Design postion, at least common functionality can be traced.

  2. I should change one of my comments…

    “Due to new mechanisms discovered that you discuss, past history is difficult to be resovled if at all. Gradualism as a result is ruled out as well.

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