Continuing a critical reading of the book “Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea” by Carl Zimmer the science journalist, we find that in explaining what evolution is and how it works he uses the same bait and switch tactics that most evolutionary biologists use to try to prove that Darwinian evolution is true. This tactic has been successful in blurring the distinction between variations in animal populations that can be observed today and the unknown intermediate life forms that were supposed to be responsible for creating life as we know it, as well as the various fossilized life forms buried in the sedimentary rocks of the earth.
In the chapter entitled “Witnessing Change” Zimmer describes a number of documented cases of animals changing into more specialized forms of the same organism within our lifetime. He furthermore rehearses an evolutionary story, remarkable even for evolutionists, concerning the speciation of a type of fish that is thought to have occurred in a very brief period of time (around 8000 years) to produce 500 separate and unique species (of the same fish). These and a most amazing feature of DNA programming that gives rise to human immunity is presented as evidence to the fact of evolution.
Although Zimmer knows the difference between the heredity of pre-existing genetic information and is clear on his understanding of Mendelian genetics, he blurs the distinction between the changes effected by inheritance of existing genes and the variety of life forms that have presumed to have come about through millions of years of genetic changes. His conclusion is that we have proof that Darwinian evolution is true. What we do know as fact is that variation emerges when the genetic range of a species is expressed (look at dog breeds or the differences in human beings for examples) and this variation (change) can be stabilized in isolated populations, be it artificial selection (breeding) or in the wild of the African plains. We also know that no genetic changes are known that give rise to new information and this is what is required by the theory of evolution in order to drive Darwin’s religious belief in materialism. Zimmer uses the genetic programs responsible for his particular examples to support the idea of Darwinian evolution. These genetic programs have nothing to do with the biological evolution of the Darwinian type. When examined closely and critically these examples of biology are intuitively a challenge to the evolutionary theory and do not support it.
Zimmer however, swallows the evolutionary story without either chewing or digesting what he has studied. Otherwise, he is just regurgitating the old Darwinian fluff for reasons other than scientific interest. Unfortunate for many readers, his exceptional writing skills outweigh his critical comprehension of what he is saying. Like most evolutionary writers this results in describing features of the world that are attributed to a process completely unrelated to the examples that are given. Hence, it becomes a bait and switch tactic that draws the reader into buying a new BMW only to ultimately sell them a used Dodge Dart. Follow me as I follow Zimmer’s attempt at teaching evolution.
Mutations are supposed to be the best but not the only explanation for genuinely new variation for Darwinian evolution. In his chapter, “Witnessing Change”, Zimmer cites bird beaks on the Galapagos Islands and the size of guppies grown in isolation in a pond as proofs of evolution. Both of these traits vary in a population of the particular animals throughout time because the traits are a product of the existing genes. But are they proof of life evolving right before our eyes. It is the only proof of evolution if you are dishonest with the definition that you use for evolution. “Change over time” is not a sufficient definition when it comes to the expectations that Darwin had for his form of biological change. Darwin and Zimmer have had the idea that given enough time and the right conditions, molecules become men.
One example Zimmer describes in his book is a natural adaptation of a population of finches that survived a drought on one of the Galapagos Islands in 1977. The population that was represented was around 750 birds. By the end of the drought around 200 birds had survived. The survivors of the drought bred and the next generation had, on average, a 4% increase in beak size from the previous year. In science, a 4% increase in anything is meaningless unless statistical analysis proves the number to be mathematically “significant”. What was significant was correlation in the drop of the number of small-beaked birds and the
availability of large hard seeds. Nevertheless, assuming this increase in beak size was significant, we can continue with the assessment of Zimmer’s evolution. Obviously, those birds that had larger beaks were more successful in surviving the drought. The survivors mated the next year (1978) and because the survivors with larger beaks were slightly more abundant than those birds with small beaks it may be safe to assume they bred more successfully. The result of beak size measured in the next generation of birds was a slight increase over the previous year’s measurements for the entire population before the drought hit.
Conversely, in 1983 when heavy rains increased seed production on the island, the bird-beak size dropped the following year by 2.5% of the population that was studied. Food source may have had a minute effect on the average beak size during these weather changes. However, the finches remained finches. Large beaked finches and small-beaked finches still survived under both conditions and the sway in the beak size, while measurable, were within normal variance from year to year unless statistical significance can be presented. When percentages are used in evolutionary biology and not statistically significant values, one can be assured that the variance is either of little importance or it might indicate a potential trend. Even so, what Zimmer recounted is not evolution. It is natural selection of variation that came from the pool of pre-existing genetic elements contained within the whole of the population of finches. No scientist, creation or otherwise, disagree that variations exist in plant and animal populations and that real and often permanent changes in certain features occur even to the point of causing a particular form of life to become unable to reproduce with its ancestral stock. This is true speciation. But is the example given a product of the same genetic mechanism that created the bird or the plant at some beginning in the past?
As in my family or yours, siblings, cousins, generations of related people, do not give rise to identical individuals. The variety that comes from the genetics involved in these cases is created when sperm and egg cells are produced. During their maturation the genes of sperm and egg cells are recombined, chromosomes are randomly assorted and the results typically give rise to VARIETY when these new combinations are expressed in the offspring. How this variety may play out in a natural environment among plants and animals is not evolution… not the Darwinian kind. Some have yielded to call it micro-evolution But this particular example demonstrates a fundamental law of heredity that creates variety but within limits that are determined by pre-existing genetic elements. This variety may give rise to features that allow the population to adapt to the natural conditions of the environment. This sort of specialization of features may become dominant over generations and this has been accepted since the 17th century. But this does not change an animal type into some other type. Adaptation of this kind actually preserves the life form within the margins of the variations that are possible from pre-existing genetic information. If I own 8 wigs, 4 shirts and 2 pairs of pants there exists 64 (8 X 4 X 2) ways I can change my appearance. It is the same with population genetics. There are only so many variations that exist in the recombination process but given 25000 genes in the human population and of these, 6000 have different forms of the same gene, e.g., blue eyes versus brown eyes (alleles), the variation in human features is virtually limitless. And this does not consider the other 96% of the DNA that controls the timing and duration of gene expression during development in the womb. Hence, natural selection preserves the species through this massive catalog of genetic possibilities. Natural selection, however, is not the originator of the genome of the species. This has yet to be proven. The bait is claiming that this “ micro-evolution” in bird beaks is sufficient to account for (the switch) the genomes of over 8 million species on the planet.
Zimmer also recounts a similar story of a potential speciation event among guppies (tiny fish) that were moved from running water where there were assumed to be more predators and other selection pressures to a calm and isolated pool where it was assumed that fewer predators fed on the fish and selection pressures were assumed to be lower. Over 11 years of research it was found that the average guppy population had become 10% larger and took 10% longer to mature than the guppies he had studied in the stream. Zimmer then noted that this rate of evolution was thousands of times faster than what was predicted from the enormous changes found in the fossil record. This is the bait and switch tactic. He gives no example of what fossil animal or plant he was referring to that could be traced, with any credible accuracy, in the fossil record. Therefore, what he has said compares apples to oranges.
The fossil record is supposed to be proof that men came from some ape-like animal and that birds evolved from dinosaurs and that fish gave rise to salamanders. Yet the genetic blueprints for birds today cannot be compared to anything that is extinct. And, how does anyone know the rate of evolution from the fossil record? Evolution must first be assumed to be true. Then the number of genes that make a T-rex must be guesstimated. Then the number of nearly miraculous genetic changes that had to take place to transform a T-rex into a bird must be pulled out of thin air. The sum of these numbers multiplied by infinity and divided by the phases of the moon are then multiplied by the number of supernova explosions witnessed by frogs over 165 million years, corrected for asteroid calamities per each 10,000 year period and this gives us a pretty accurate rate of evolution as seen in the fossil record. Do you agree? Compared to this number, 11 years to make a fast guppy into a fat and lazy guppy and you can see how remarkably fast evolution is for this little fish.
If Zimmer believes there is some similarity between the two forms of evolution (“change over time”) he too has been tricked into believing this is science or he has chosen to delude himself into thinking it is so by the textbook descriptions. As already noted, sexual reproduction gives rise to variation in offspring, not because of some new information encoded in the sex cells but because pre-existing genetic elements – genes – are rearranged and chromosomes are sorted in an independent manner to produce those sex cells. These established genetic programs are intrinsic genetic events that occur during sex cell production can never give rise to any other form of being. Life always reproduces after its own kind.
This is the Law of Inheritance and it has been established since Mendel first bred pea plants. This law is used throughout the agricultural world to feed the growing population of the earth with higher yielding corn and other seed plants, fungal resistant fruit and other traits important to human civilization. It remains somewhat debatable how variations are played out in the wild but the fact, for instance, that the zebra is a variation of the wild horse may be one of the best examples. The genetic changes of the zebra from the horse stock are far enough removed from other horses that this variety in life form is a truly a new species- it is reproductively isolated. Genetic isolation has been played upon in nature to the success of the horse type on the African plains and we assume this is true of other species as well.
The overall effect appears to establish and preserve the horse type under differing environmental conditions. The horse that we call zebra is adapted to very different circumstances than the wild horses of China. While they share the generalized features of the horse genus, zebras, when bred with domesticated horses, do not give fertile offspring. They are now a true separate species. The geographic isolation of donkeys, horses, and zebras has not changed the type (Genus) of the animal but the offspring of hybridization indicate gene shuffling in isolation populations has resulted in animals so specialized that they can no longer interbreed with related stock. Just as a horse can be bred with a donkey to give a sterile horse that we name a mule, zebras mated with horses fail to give fertile offspring as well
Does this mean that given enough time these isolated horses could change into a moose or deer or a goat? The short answer is no. Horse genomes have limits to specialization. The horse types that have been isolated to interbreed within their own populations begin to lose their genetic variety; becoming more and more specialized. This genetic variation offers an opportunity for kinds of animals to adapt as a population of successfully breeding beings but it can also give rise to such specialization that the zebra type of horse may be pushed to the limits of genetic variability. Pushed further by changes in the ecology of the environment and extinction is a real possibility.
When we consider the dinosaur to bird transformation we cannot consider sexual reproduction as the driving force for the variation needed to create such changes. To get from a dinosaur to a bird, we have to ask what genes must CHANGE OR BE CREATED IN THE BLUEPRINT OF DNA to form the bird? What are the changes and how are the new and the old proteins manipulated in embryological development? What master switches have to be modified and or shuffled for body construction to go from dinosaur form to bird form? How many more or fewer chromosomes are needed? Here is the crux of the controversy.
Intelligent design proponents see the bait and switch tactic. So do creation scientists. But evolutionary biologists do not see or understand the very theory they are experts in. What we can see in nature today is explained in terms of fixed genetic elements. What we cannot see in geologic time is genetic data or intermediate fossil forms. The two “changes in time” are controlled by different means; one has been validated and the other can never be validated. For this reason, many students of biology have given up their own objections to being taught irrational and illogical explanations and incompatible comparisons. If the evolutionary jargon doesn’t confuse them then personal criticisms from the authority in the classroom, the teacher, usually silence students. Their classmates then ridicule those same students after class.
I have 22 years of formal education and 2 years of postdoctoral experience spread over four different university locations and two different government research labs. This is the modus operandi of teaching evolution. Don’t ask the question and don’t tell anyone you’re confused… it is the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” of academia where academic freedom of inquiry is more like academic torture for anyone who maintains critical thinking skills. No wonder fewer students enter the sciences than a decade ago! It is madness they are being taught and not knowledge.
Hang in there, folks. Zimmer’s education is not over. He seems to have swallowed every drop of evolutionary elixir that materialistic philosophy has come up with concerning Darwin’s grand illusion. In the next post, Zimmer will attempt the golden ring in the pig’s snout trick. You don’t want to miss this story.