Jan 12, 2009 Weaknesses of Evolution: It Cannot Create Diversity


In This Issue
Science - What Natural Selection can and cannot accomplish
Citizen Involvement - How YOU can help!
"A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question..." - Charles Darwin in Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

Today we ask whether a centerpiece of Darwinian dogma can really accomplish what it is often credited with.

Natural Selection, the so-called survival of the fittest, can certainly be an explanation for non-survival of catastrophically harmful mutants.  The question of whether it can distinguish small advantages, (if such advantageous mutants even occur), is far from being answered in the affirmative as Darwin thought.

Importantly, please consider writing the State Board of Education, encouraging them to retain "strengths and weaknesses" language.  You may easily email the entire Board, right now, at: sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us.

Last, please consider testifying before the board January 21st.  To do so, you must register starting 8am sharp with the TEA.  If you can't, please encourage someone who can, particularly if they are in science or education fields.  Information on registering can be located at:   


Thank you!


SCIENCE:  Can Natural Selection Scrutinize Improvements the Way Darwin Thought?
Guest Editorial by Laszlo Bencze

On the Necessity of Preserving Variations in a Stable Population

(Ed. note:  Though the four pictures appear to be very different, they show variations of the same species of Physalia physalis, commonly called the Portuguese Man O' War. Typically called a jellyfish, it is actually a siphonophore, a colony of four intimately bound hydrozoans.)

It is a dogma of the Darwinian creed that any variation, no matter how small, which offers an advantage in survivability will be preserved. As Darwin himself stated,

It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.

The truth of this statement seems self-evident. Obviously, that which is better must result in better performance and better success in life. Obviously, if this process is carried on long enough, the preservation of better individuals will result in new breeding populations called species. Furthermore if the process continues for geologic ages, those new species will diverge into vastly differing families, classes, and phyla. The process of selection is self-contained, natural in a mechanical sort of way, and requiring no meddling from any intelligent designer. These are the fundamental claims of evolution of any stripe.
But let us pause a moment to reconsider the obviousness of Darwinian dogma in the face of an inconvenient fact: in any given species, a vast array of variations persist. This is odd. Why are there so many varieties of cattle, dogs, pigeons? Why so many variations of mosses, jellyfish, algae, and bears within a species? Why are offspring not exactly like their parents? Why do so many extremely unusual traits like dwarfism and albinism continue to be preserved in small quantities in populations? Why are populations not made up solely of the most successful, most reproductive, most robust traits all wrapped into one superior package?
I propose that the answer to these questions lies in the fact that there is no such thing as a clearly superior trait. It is not possible to state unequivocally that a certain trait endows an individual with 0.1% or 100% improvement in survivability. There are two main reasons: First, environments themselves vary substantially enough to promote differing traits. A trait which may offer clear superiority one day may be inferior the next. Second, it is so difficult to distinguish tiny degrees of superiority that chance effects predominate and many variations are preserved.JellyFish3
Many Small Variations are Necessary to Stable Populations
It takes no great insight to see how this works in everyday life. Athletic young men who perform well in high school obtain scholarships to colleges where they thrive as campus heroes and attract notice from coeds. Bookish nerds attract little female notice in high school and college but become very desirable when they lead billion dollar software companies. Both types are superior in one environment and inferior in another. Both types are necessary to a robust population of humans. But neither will come to predominate in a population. 
What's true for humans is also true for garden plants, fish, bacteria, or any other living thing. Even the narrowest environmental niche provides ample opportunity for different variants to thrive. The gray wolves of Alaska tend towards darker coats in the forested southern regions and towards lighter in the open snowy  JellyFish4plains of the north. Yet in either region there will be a few individuals of the opposite coat. Were all the northern population to be wiped out, the lighter coat advantageous to the snowy regions would still be preserved and would soon repopulate the north. The variation in coat color is essential to the robustness of the species.
The Difficulty of Distinguishing and Choosing Small Variations
There is yet another difficulty in the proposal that small improvements will be preserved, then predominate, and finally take over a population. That difficulty is in understanding how such a tiny improvement can even be recognized as an improvement. 
If a teacher were introduced to two very bright students and told that one of them was 0.1% more intelligent than the other, would not the teacher consider they were identical in intelligence? In fact might not the teacher question the testing procedure that claimed to produce such accuracy? After all an intelligence test would require a minimum of 1000 questions to have any claim to such accuracy. Surely factors other than intelligence would greatly influence the results of such a fatiguing test.
And would not the same doubt hold true for differences in athletic ability? How many races would have to be run to prove that one sprinter was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 0.1% better than another? The answer is well over 10,000, which is a staggering number and well beyond the capabilities of any human. 
Furthermore, it is clear that the measurement of tiny differences in real performances will always involve many chance elements of a trivial nature. Perhaps a close race will be won because of shoes being laced more tightly. Or a golf match because of a favorable gust of wind. Or a weightlifting contest because of a slight improvement in the resonance of the barbell. 
Therefore, it seems highly unlikely that Nature could consistently and accurately make such refined distinctions.
So returning to Darwin's dogma, JellyFish2it is far from obvious that nature is constantly preserving slight improvements and eliminating slight defects. The balance point between the two is constantly shifting. Thus, what should have been obvious to Darwin is not that natural selection impels movement towards the creation of a new species but rather that natural selection preserves many variations so that the population as a whole will be robust and stable in differing environments.
In short, natural selection preserves what exists but does not create originality.
Laszlo Bencze

[Note:  You may direct comments to:  newsletterfeedback2009@strengthsandweaknesses.org]


Your Assistance Is Still Needed on Three Fronts!  

First, please take a minute and sign our "Teach Both Strengths AND WEAKNESSES of Evolution Petition
" here.  It will only take 30 seconds and will help counter the Darwinist dogma that, "No one questions evolution."

, please write a politely worded letter of support to the State Board of Education encouraging them to keep or even strengthen the "scientific strengths and weaknesses" language that has served Texas well for TWENTY YEARS without a single legal challenge.  You might also point out one or two of your favorite weaknesses of evolution theories. SBOE Email: sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us. Other contact information is located here.

Third, mark January 21, 2009 on your calendar.  This is the day public testimony will be taken before the full State Board of Education in Austin.  It is especially important that you consider testifying if you are a teacher or have Ph.D. credentials.  For more information, see:

Thank You!