15 Evolutionary Gems Refuted
In January 2009, Nature Magazine produced an evolutionist evangelism tract called "15 Evolutionary Gems" to help their faithful "spread the word" of evolution as an "established fact"1. Since this was compiled by their own papers published over 10 years, it no doubt should serve as their best evidence for the theory. Hence it warrants a closer look from those of us who believe evolution does not qualify as a theory and is at best a low-grade hypothesis.
I have a few general observations about the tract before addressing each one individually. First, the mere mention of fifteen lines of evidence gives the illusion of support by overwhelming numbers, a sort of pseudo "elephant hurling". Yet 12 of the 15 "gems" refer to small scale change, or variability within a kind of animal that everyone agrees occurs. Evolutionists coined the phrase "micro-evolution" to give the illusion that such small-scale change somehow supports the theory of evolution. This is a well-known and oft-used equivocation by evolutionists. The problem lies in the fact that evolutionists have no evidence small-scale change can produce large-scale change such as new organs, scales turning into feathers, etc. See my article "The Evolution Definition Shell Game".2
Now on to the list of evolutionary "gems":
1. Land-living Ancestors of Whales
God has a sense of humor. Since marine life is naturally found at the base of the fossil record, it was surely one of the main factors that pushed naturalists to assume terrestrial life evolved from aquatic life. However, if mammals evolved from marine life, what in the world is a mammal as complex as the whale doing in the water? This forced naturalists into the precarious position of having to explain why some mammals decided to venture back into the water!
Here the authors promote Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and more recently Indohyus, as whale ancestors, mostly due to minor similarities in their ear and teeth with whales.
2. From Water to Land
This "gem" largely promotes the evolutionist darling Tiktaalik as "an aquatic predator with distinct similarities to tetrapods".
3. Feathered Dinosaurs
In an attempt to promote their idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds, evolutionists have been pushing a few fossil birds as intermediates on their way to full bird-hood. Here the authors push the evo-darling Archaeopteryx and newcomer Epidexipteryx.
4. The Evolutionary History of Teeth
This portion of the tract simply lauds the "mechanisms behind the relative size and number of molar teeth in mice".
5. The Origin of the vertebrate skeleton
6. Natural Selection in Speciation
Here we are provided an example of stickleback fish with different body sizes!
7. Natural Selection in Lizards
The tract provides an example of an "arms race" between water fleas and the parasites that infest them. As the water fleas become better at evading parasitism, the parasites become better at infecting them.
9. Differential dispersal in wild birds
10. Selective Survival of Wild Guppies
They mention that less common guppies of a certain color had higher survival rates.
11. Evolutionary History Matters
The argument goes that the moray eel “evolved” the ability to suck down prey: “Rather than prey coming to the pharyngeal jaws, the pharyngeal jaws move forwards into the mouth cavity, trapping the prey and dragging it backwards…. This study demonstrates the contingent nature of evolution; as a process it does not have the luxury of ‘designing from scratch’..."
12. Darwin’s Galapagos finches
Here they champion the genes that are switched on during development that provide variation.
13. Micro-evolution meets Macroevolution
The author provides an example of a gene producing two different functions, development in general, and pigmentation.
14. Toxin Resistance in Snakes & Clams
The main argument is that garter snakes evolved resistance to Newt toxin, and a single mutation in the clam provided its new-found resistance.
15. Variation versus Stability
The primary argument is that certain proteins under stress during development can rapidly produce a variety of change in fruit flies. They also mention that "genes hold variation in reserve that is released only when they are functionally compromised."
If one were to compare this to a baseball game, the evolutionists came to bat with the best they had to offer, and were pitched a complete shutout. Not even a dribbler past the batter's box made its way into the field of play. Eighty percent of their arguments were examples of adaptation that creationists have long embraced, even before Darwin13, that showed no evidence whatsoever of neo-Darwinian evolution. Of the remaining 20%, the fossil fragment stories do more than just show how speculative and subjective the claims are, more revealing is how mighty and bold they are claimed in the media, implicitly (and sometimes even explicitly) affirming they never had the missing link before! Remember when Ida was hailed as the "8th wonder of the world" and "unprecedented" in its stature as missing link, prompting David Attenborough to gleefully proclaim "The link... is no longer missing", only to see their latest holy grail refuted by scores of scientists shortly thereafter?14 Since Darwin, the fossil record has become rich and well-catalogued, if not virtually complete, so by now we should expect to have good evidence of evolution instead of a handful of questionable claims desperately given headline news status.
Finally, conspicuous in its absence were the evolutionary icon "gems" such as homology, Lucy, Chimp/Human DNA similarity, vestigial organs, Junk DNA, etc. I guess they lost their luster over time, eroded by evidence and real science. To slightly modify the quote by the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, "Sometimes I've believed as many as fifteen impossible things before breakfast".
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1 - "15 Evolutionary Gems", Nature Magazine, 2009. http://www.nature.com/nature/newspdf/evolutiongems.pdf
7 - Epidexipteryx: Dinosaur, Bird, or Dino-Bird? About.com. Thursday November 13, 2008. http://dinosaurs.about.com/b/2008/11/13/epidexipteryx-dinosaur-bird-or-dino-bird.htm
9 - Alan Feduccia; cited in Archaeopteryx: Early Bird Catches a Can of Worms, Science 259(5096):764–65, 5 February, 1993.
10 - From creation.com, cited CNN website June 1998
12 - Biology, Holt, 1996, pg 324.
13 - Before Darwin, British chemist Edward Blyth advocated adaptation of created kinds to their environment, and natural selection as a conservation mechanism.http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/biogeog/BLYT1835.htm
14 - 'Eighth wonder' Ida is not related to humans, claim scientists - Oct 21, 2009, guardian.com.uk Science News. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/oct/21/fossil-ida-nature-magazine-revelation; Also: 'Missing Link' Fossil Was Not Human Ancestor as Claimed, Anthropologists Say - ScienceDaily, Mar. 3, 2010.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302131719.htm