"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:
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:
SCIENCE: Can Natural
Selection Scrutinize Improvements the Way Darwin Thought?
Guest Editorial by Laszlo
On the Necessity of Preserving Variations in a Stable
(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
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
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
plains 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.
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
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
So returning to Darwin's dogma,
it 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
In short, natural selection preserves what exists but does
not create originality.
[Note: You may direct comments to:
YOU Can Help!
Your Assistance Is Still
Needed on Three Fronts!
First, please take
a minute and sign our "Teach
Both Strengths AND WEAKNESSES of Evolution Petition"
will only take 30 seconds and will help counter the
Darwinist dogma that, "No one questions evolution."
Second, 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:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Other contact information
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: