|Feature Article - November 2003|
|by Do-While Jones|
Modern evolutionists say they have discarded Darwinism in favor of Neo-darwinism or Punctuated Equilibrium. But vestiges of Darwinism live on in modern evolutionary theories.
Few modern evolutionists believe in Darwinian evolution. They believe in newer theories of evolution because Darwin’s mechanism of evolutionary change was certainly wrong. Darwin believed that natural selection chose from variations caused by diet, environment, and exercise. Modern scientists know that characteristics acquired from diet, environment, and exercise are not inherited. Diet, environment, and exercise can't be responsible for evolutionary change because evolution requires evolutionary advances to be inherited.
The Neo-darwinian theory substitutes random changes to the DNA in reproductive cells instead of diet, climate, and exercise. Certainly the overwhelming majority of random mutations are bad for the critter that suffers them, but (the theory says) a few might provide a marginal advantage that natural selection will favor. The advantage that the Neo-darwinian theory has over the Darwinian theory is that random mutations certainly can be inherited.
The problem, of course, is that if this were true, one would expect to see gradual changes in species in the fossil record, as well as a blurring of characteristics in living species. Since this isn’t what is observed in nature, two prominent paleontologists proposed Punctuated Equilibrium, which has been widely accepted in the evolutionary community.
Like the Neo-darwinian theory, Puncutated Equilibrium proposes random changes to the sex cells as the mechanism that does all the changing. The difference is that these random changes are supposed to build up gradually over time, without any apparent external effect. Then, all of a sudden, for some unexplained reason evolution happens very rapidly without leaving a trace in the fossil record.
So, the primary difference between Neo-darwinian evolution and Punctuated Equilibrium is the rate at which it happens. Neo-darwinian evolution imagines slow, constant change. Punctuate Equilibrium postulates variable rates of change. Both depend upon natural selection to keep the good mutations and eliminate the bad ones.
The point we want to stress is that these two theories depend upon random copying errors during cell reproduction (mutation) rather than diet, environment, and exercise, as the agent that produces the changes that are chosen or rejected by natural selection. That’s because modern genetics has thoroughly refuted the idea that characteristics acquired from diet, environmental conditions, or exercise, can be inherited.
Despite the apparent rejection of the unscientific notion that acquired characteristics are inherited, Darwin’s mechanism is the implied mechanism for whale evolution.
Evolutionists claim that some land-dwelling mammal (something like a wolf, or a cow, or pig, or a hippo) ventured into the water and evolved into a whale. Somehow, the aquatic environment, and exercising different muscles for locomotion, caused the whale to evolve.
If an animal spends lots of time in the water, it is possible that the animal will develop a layer of fat that is thicker than another animal of the same species that is kept warm and dry on land. But the animal with the thicker layer of fat won’t have offspring with a thicker layer of fat than the offspring of the animal that was kept warm.
An animal that swims all the time will use different muscles than it would use if it walked on land all the time. So, some of its muscles will become stronger, and the unused muscles will become weaker. But that will have no effect on the strength of the muscles of its children. Body builders don’t have more muscular children than couch potatoes.
Of course it is advantageous to a whale, porpoise, or dolphin to have its nose on the top of its head, above its eyes. But spending time in the water isn’t going to make the nose of a wolf move from below its eyes to above its eyes. Alligators and crocodiles spend lots of time in the water, but their noses are still below their eyes.
One might argue that the movement of the nose was a random mutation that happened to be beneficial to whales. If nose position is random, why aren’t human babies, or farm animals, occasionally born with noses on top of their heads?
I once saw a video of a dolphin being born in captivity. It knew how to wiggle its tail up and down the moment it came out of its mother. It knew how to use that tail to get to the surface to get a breath of air. In fact, it knew it had to get to the surface to get some air. How did it know that?
When pigs are born, they don’t know how to swim straight from the womb. But whales do. Is that just a fluke?
Evolutionists make monkeys of themselves whenever they try to explain how humans evolved. They need to come up with explanations for bigger brains, more complex social behavior, and upright posture.
Ian Tattersall reviewed two books on human evolution in this month’s issue of Natural History magazine.
With excellent timing, here now are two books that, from rather different perspectives, devote themselves to the question of why hominids became upright, and to explore exactly how that event may have shaped subsequent human evolutionary history. 1
One of the books he reviews, Lowly Origin, lists “at least thirteen distinct explanations that have been advanced at one time or another for hominid bipedalism.” 2 The author of that book then takes the position that
Whenever the creature forages on the forest or woodland floor, the trunk is held upright. Over millions of years the hind legs gradually assume the support of the upper body’s weight. 3
Foraging for food made human ancestors stand upright, and their descendants inherited their good posture and strong legs. The moral of the story is, “Don’t slouch! If you do, your kids will have bad posture!”
But seriously, the first book claims that exercising the legs makes them stronger (which is true), and that offspring inherit the stronger legs and better posture (which isn’t true).
The second book, by Craig Sanford, takes a different approach.
Oddly, in view of what Stanford has to say later on in his book, he also takes time to trash the idea that bipedalism was driven by environmental change. More significant he argues, was that from the beginning hominids appear to have been ecological generalists. The key to their success was, and is, their ability to thrive in diverse environments. Yet despite his emphasis on environmental adaptability, he is still convinced that the hominids’ unusual and implication-ridden form of locomotion was a response to something, and he is clearly concerned to discover a single underlying explanation for it. He finds it in meat eating.
Once a taste for meat eating had been acquired, everything else followed. “By three million years ago,” he writes, “the whole equation of foraging energetics and diet had begun a fundamental shift.” A “virtuous circle” had been established. More efficient upright walking fed back into increasing intelligence and social complexity, and those attributes led to ever more effective hunting. [italics in the original] 4
He actually claims that the increased number of calories in the carnivorous diet allowed them to have bigger brains, which consume more energy. So, when the pre-human ancestors started eating meat, they started having children with bigger brains.
If high-calorie diets stimulate brain growth, we really need to revamp the school lunch program. Let’s load those kiddies up with sugar and watch their brains grow!
Not only doesn’t a high-calorie diet make brains bigger, it doesn’t cause an inheritable increase in brain size. The size of your brain does not depend upon what your mother and father ate before you were born.
The claim that humans evolved bigger brains when they started eating meat is based on the old Darwinian idea that diet causes an inheritable change.
Furthermore, he claims that as society became more complex, our ancestors had to use their brains more. The more they used their brains, the bigger and smarter they became. Their descendants inherited this larger, smarter brain, which allowed their descendants to engage in even more complex social behavior, which exercised their brains even more, making their brains bigger and smarter. All this mental exercise made subsequent generations even more intelligent. So, it wasn’t just diet, it was also exercise, that gave us bigger brains.
This isn’t a new idea. Notice what Christopher Wills said 10 years ago.
As many authors have pointed out, the force that is likely to have driven our evolution in this apparently directional way is a new kind of force, the process of cultural evolution. As our cultures evolved in complexity, so did our brains, which then drove our bodies toward greater responsiveness and our cultures toward still greater complexity in a feedback loop. Big and clever brains led to more complex culture and bodies better suited to take advantage of them, which in turn led to yet bigger and cleverer brains. 5
So, the first book proposes an environment which made us exercise our legs more as the force that drove human evolution. The second book suggests diet enabled mental exercise that drove human evolution. Was it diet, exercise, or environment that drove human evolution? Which book is right? Tattersall doesn’t agree with either.
Two very different books, then, presenting radically different scenarios for the origin of bipedalism in our lineage. But, significantly, what both books have in common is a firm belief in the gradual environmental molding of lineages, generation by generation, through natural selection. Indeed, both authors see natural selection as a driving force in human evolution ... .
Yet natural selection can only work on novelties presented to it spontaneously; it cannot call anatomical innovations into being, however desirable they might appear. 6
Natural selection can’t create new variations. Natural selection can only choose from variations that already exist. So, the problem that evolutionists have is to determine where the variations come from.
Darwinian ideas about diet, exercise, and environment are at the foundation of the explanations of human evolution in these two books. To his credit, Tattersall rejects the explanations in these two books. Having done this, he provides his explanation for how hominids came to walk upright.
The explanation is that their own ancestors already favored upright posture in the trees, keeping their trunks erect during foraging, as many other primates do today. In other words, the early hominids were bipedal because they were already creatures that would have been most comfortable (if initially not totally at ease) moving upright on the ground. 7
He says hominids didn’t evolve upright posture because they evolved from primates that were already bipedal. But how did the mythical bipedal ancestors of the first hominids evolve bipedalism? Tattersall is just pushing the problem back farther, trying to push it clean out of sight.
The Darwinian explanation for our distinctly human characteristics is that a high-calorie diet, mental exercise, and an environment that favored upright posture, caused changes that were inherited. That’s genetically impossible.
The Neo-darwinian explanation and Punctuated Equilibrium both depend upon dumb luck. Random DNA copying errors supposedly made us smarter and taller. Depending upon which of these two theories you believe, evolution is either like a riverboat gambler who has occasional streaks of very good luck; or evolution is like a casino that has continual good “luck” because the odds are stacked in its favor.
In either case, diet, environment, and exercise have nothing to do with it. So, how much time an animal spends in the water, or what an animal eats, or how it walks, or what it thinks about, cannot be presented as an explanation for why an animal evolved new features.
All these fables about how whales evolved or humans learned to walk upright, are just fables. There is no scientific basis for them. Science is against evolution.
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Tattersall, Natural History, November 2003, “Stand and Deliver”, page 61
2 ibid. page 62
4 ibid. page 64
5 Wills, The Runaway Brain, 1993, page xxii (Ev)
6 Tattersall, Natural History, November 2003, “Stand and Deliver”, page 64