15 Evolutionary Gems Refuted

 

Fred Williams

December 2010

 

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.

REFUTED: Using scant similarities as their best evidence of such an enormous transition from a mouse-deer to a whale, while ignoring vast differences such as the whales sonar and amazing buoyancy characteristics, is no more compelling than claiming the moon and cheese share a common source. Humans and whales show arguably greater similarity in brain anatomy3, so I suggest the evolutionists change their story to humans going back into the water to become whales (see the Incredible Mr. Limpet). Furthermore, Pakicetus, which was originally only“known from a skull”4 yet promoted as aquatic and adorned with lavish artistic imagery, was later classified as completely terrestrial after more fossil fragments were found. Ambulocetus enjoyed similar fragment-to-fairytale artistic liberties, including renderings of fins and webs between toes, despite the fossils clearly showing limbs and web-less feet5.

2. From Water to Land

This "gem" largely promotes the evolutionist darling Tiktaalik as "an aquatic predator with distinct similarities to tetrapods".

REFUTED: One year after this evolutionist evangelism tract,  footprints were discovered in "older" rock strata, causing one evolutionist scientist to admit "We thought we'd pinned down the origin of limbed tetrapods...We have to rethink the whole thing."6 Oops. Another alleged "missing link" goes missing again! Tiktaalik is simply another extinct fish.

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.

REFUTED: Epidexipteryx shows characteristics of a secondarily flightless bird, and ultimately only speculation turns it into a feathery dino7. Evolutionists also place it before Archaeopteryx out of sheer convenience with no evidence8. Why? Because  evolutionists know Archaeopteryx had fully developed feathers for flight, which would undermine their claim that Epidexipteryx had "primitive feathers", and subsequently the flimsy evolutionary timeline they are trying to sell.  Finally, if the evidence is so convincing, why is it easy to find bird experts, themselves evolutionists, who dispute these claims? Leading expert Alan Feduccia wrote: "Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it's not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of 'paleobabble' is going to change that."9 An evolutionist once quipped regarding another feathery claim: "You have to put this into perspective. To the people who wrote the paper, the chicken would be a feathered dinosaur."10

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".

REFUTED: This is a classic example of small-scale adaptation, and has nothing to do with evolution. Mice having different sized teeth based on ecological pressures is a strong indication of design. The information is already present in the genome and isn't generated by random mistakes in the DNA, as evolution demands.11 Bottom line - the mice are still mice!

5. The Origin of the vertebrate skeleton

REFUTED: This argument never provides any reason why it supports evolutionary theory, it instead shows incredible design through programming (information) in how the head and neck structure begin during embryonic development.

6. Natural Selection in Speciation

Here we are provided an example of stickleback fish with different body sizes!

REFUTED: Are St. Bernards evolved from Chihuahuas? This is yet another case of small-scale adaptation. The stickleback fish are still stickleback fish!

7. Natural Selection in Lizards

REFUTED: Yet another example of small-scale adaptation. The adapation happens too rapidly to be anything more than "micro-evolution".

8. Co-evolution

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.

REFUTED: The water fleas are still water fleas, and the parasites are still parasites! The authors also unwittingly admit "the parasite adapted to its host over a period of only a few years." It is not mathematically possible for this rapid change to be due to random mutation, so it is not evolution!11 They quote the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland's Through the Looking Glass, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” Well, the Red Queen also said: “sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.". The Red Queen must have been an evolutionist.

9. Differential dispersal in wild birds

REFUTED: This is another example of adaptation. In fact, they provide creationist evidence for rapid speciation after the flood: “The effect is reinforced by non-random dispersal; individual birds select and breed in different habitats in a way that increases their fitness." The authors conclude that “when gene flow is not homogeneous, evolutionary differentiation can be rapid and can occur over surprisingly small spatial scales”. They forget that these non-random changes have nothing to do with evolution11.

10. Selective Survival of Wild Guppies

They mention that less common guppies of a certain color had higher survival rates.

REFUTED: No evidence is presented that the “favored” guppy had an increase in genetic information, or that the color mutation was random as the neo-Darwinian theory requires11.

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’..."

REFUTED: No reason is offered as to why this supports evolution! This is instead another powerful example of design that cannot be explained by random mutation.

12. Darwin’s Galapagos finches

Here they champion the genes that are switched on during development that provide variation.

REFUTED: Yet another case of adapation. This is evidence of non-random mutation, which again is not part of the paradigm of evolution11. It shows diversity programmed into the finches by the Creator, and it also provides evidence of the ability for species to diverge and rapidly populate the earth after the flood.

13. Micro-evolution meets Macroevolution

The author provides an example of a gene producing two different functions, development in general, and pigmentation.

REFUTED: It's remarkable the author would suggest this dual-capability of a gene is a product of mistakes in the DNA guided by a blind selection process. A gene that produces multiple outputs is a powerful argument against a naturalistic origin! Its shows incredible design.

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.

REFUTED: This is yet another case of adaptation. No evidence is provided showing an increase in information. The clam mutation occurs far too often to be “random”, and hence is yet again evidence of adaptive capability programmed into the genome.

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."

REFUTED: The fruit fly has long been the geneticist's darling because of its rapid reproductive cycle. Yet after scores of mutations, all we get are damaged fruit flies that can't fly. None of the changes to the fruit fly were beneficial in any way. Many text books provide examples using fruit flies, boldly proclaiming that mutations are the driving force of evolution, yet invariably provide only examples of harmful mutations12. One of most harmful mutations that can occur to an organism would be to any of the developmental genes, especially hox genes. Regarding the genes ability to hold variation in reserve, we readily agree! This is useful genetic information, which shows design. No evidence, not one iota, is presented as to how this useful information itself originated.

Conclusion

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".

[Listen to Radio broadcast of this topic]


1 - "15 Evolutionary Gems", Nature Magazine, 2009. http://www.nature.com/nature/newspdf/evolutiongems.pdf

2 - http://www.evolutionfairytale.com/articles_debates/evolutiondefinition.htm

3 - NewScientist, Nov 2006. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10661-whales-boast-the-brain-cells-that-make-us-human.html

4 - Douglas Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 1998, p 196

5 - http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/natural_history_2_15.html

6 - Science magazine, Jan 6 2010; http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/01/06-02.html

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

8 - Fine-feathered dino sported bizarre bird tail, msnbc.com 10/22/2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27324139/ns/technology_and_science-science/

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

11 - As evolutionist Douglas Futyama states in his college textbook Evolutionary Biology, "The argument that adaptively directed mutations does not occur is one of the fundamental tenets of modern evolutionary theory" [emphasis added]. Evolutionary Biology, 1998, p 282.

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

 

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