Evolution 101- part 22: Half Way to Flatworm

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! (Battle Cry: “Stop Asking Questions!”) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

BOLD font is me, Rent A Friend 2000, being Bold.

Looking at complexity: Life is full of grand complications, such as aerodynamic wings, multi-part organs like eyes, and intricate chemical pathways. When faced with such complexity, both opponents and proponents of evolution, Darwin included, have asked the question: how could it evolve?

 frog bird etc
Complex adaptions: bird wings, insect wings, vertebrate eyes, and insect eyes.

Science does not sweep such difficult questions under the rug, but takes them up as interesting areas for research. The difficulty is as follows.

OK, I’ve got it! “Evolution did it!” Send that to everyone and let’s go to lunch. Oh, and let’s make fun of the creationists for claiming God did it.

Since many of these complex traits seem to be adaptive, they are likely to have evolved in small steps through natural selection. That is, intermediate forms of the adaptation must have evolved before evolution arrived at a fully-fledged wing, chemical pathway, or eye.

Note the use of the phrase “must have evolved” in the place of actual evidence. This is a statement of faith, not of science. Also, there are MANY examples of biological systems which are irreducibly complex- meaning we know through study and observation that they need multiple specific parts all at once for the system to work AT ALL. Like a machine, these systems, organs, organelles, chemical pathways, and protein machines could not have formed through small steps and gradual accumulations, but must have had all of their necessary parts immediately. They will gloss over this fact in the following section.

But what good is half a wing or only a few of the elements of an eyeball? The intermediate forms of these adaptations may not seem adaptive — so how could they be produced by natural selection? [Editor’s Note: Produced by Natural Selection? Keep this question in mind.]

There are several ways such complex novelties may evolve:

  • Advantageous intermediates: It’s possible that those intermediate stages actually were advantageous, even if not in an obvious way. What good is “half an eye?” A simple eye with just a few of the components of a complex eye could still sense light and dark, like eyespots on simple flatworms do. This ability might have been advantageous for an organism with no vision at all and could have evolved through natural selection.
flatwormA Planaria flatworm with its light-sensitive eyespots.

Michael Behe covers this well in his book, Darwin’s Black Box. While the arguments against this evolutionary cartoon are valid, a better argument is an examination of the irreducible complexity of light sensitive cells which turn light into sight (And the chemical cascades which do the job of making sight possible). These cells, like all cells, are very complex, but unless they are fully functional, they do the organism and themselves no good, and thus would be weeded out by natural selection. Building these cells one piece at a time is impossible, not merely unlikely, as they depend on multiple parts and processes to function at all.

And do I have to point out that, even after THEY explained that Natural Selection only selects from what is already in the population- meaning it takes AWAY genetic information- they again want to give credit to Natural Selection as being able to produce the ability to see? Remember when they said this back in Part 14? “Natural selection just selects among whatever variations exist in the population.” So, sure,  those flatworms which can see may survive better than those that can’t, but that doesn’t do anything to explain where the complex machinery of sight came from.

  • Co-opting: The intermediate stages of a complex feature might have served a different purpose than the fully-fledged adaptation serves. What good is “half a wing?” Even if it’s not good for flying, it might be good for something else. The evolution of the very first feathers might have had nothing to do with flight and everything to do with insulation or display. Natural selection is an excellent thief, taking features that evolved in one context and using them for new functions.hairy dino

Once again we are skipping the actual, observable complexity of real feathers for some dark streaks which we will declare to be feathers. First problem- fossils of modern birds have been found in rock layers older than this. Secondly, these dark fibers have also been found on fossils of an ichthyosaur- a dinosaur which is a lot like a dolphin. Either these dark lines are, as some have proposed, protein strands from the decay of the dead animal as it fossilized, or a fish like dinosaur was also growing feathers. And third, even if this is a lizard with feathers, so what? That no more proves it was evolving into a bird than the beak proves birds evolved from turtles or parrot fish. That leap is based, not on the evidence, but on the evolutionary bias used to color the interpretation of evidence or maybe an odd species.

One of the best reasons for this dino to bird theory is fossils like Archeoraptor being put forth by magazines like National Geographic. You need to see the facts behind this amazing fraud for yourself. Here’s a spoiler-  they were told MONTHS BEFORE they published on it. They had been shown (By a pro-evolutionary lab who examined the fossil) that archeoraptor was a fraud made of several different animals in several different kinds of rocks. Even so, National Geographic shrugged it off and published it as fact anyways, KNOWING it was a fruad. Watch the story here.

I love science, kids. I love Biology, and I love studying all kinds of living things. But I can tell you one thing from observation: If Natural Selection was anything to shout about, these kinds of science frauds would have gone extinct many years ago. Even the flatworm can see that I’m right.

Join me next week for part 23 (The Big Finish!).


Evolution 101- Part 18: Gopher Love and the Ice Cream Sandwhich

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! (Now with the real flavor of Dolphin Safe Tuna!) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

BOLD font is me, Rent A Friend 2000, being Bold.

Cospeciation: If the association between two species is very close, they may speciate in parallel. This is called cospeciation. It is especially likely to happen between parasites and their hosts.

Ew. Gross. Look away kids!

To see how it works, imagine a species of louse living on a species of gopher.

Can I point out the word “imagine”? Remember that later.And can I point out how awkward it is to tell someone to imagine a blood sucking insect on gopher? I mean, considering all of the things your brain COULD be doing right now, this seems like it ought to be low on your priority list. But here we go:

When the gophers get together to mate, the lice get an opportunity to switch gophers and perhaps mate with lice on another gopher. Gopher-switching allows genes to flow through the louse species.muskrat love

Try go get some Berry White to listen to during this section. It makes it all the more meaningful.

Consider what happens to the lice if the gopher lineage splits into lineages A and B:

  1. Lice have few opportunities for gopher-switching, and lice on gopher lineage A don’t mate with lice living on gopher lineage B.
  2. This “geographic” isolation of the louse lineages may cause them to become reproductively isolated as well, and hence, separate species.muskrat love tree1

Evolutionary biologists can often tell when lineages have cospeciated because the parasite phylogeny will “mirror” the host phylogeny.

 muskrat love brackets
Observing parallel host and parasite phylogenies is evidence of cospeciation..

This example is somewhat idealized — rarely do scientists find hosts and parasites with exactly matching phylogenies. However, sometimes the phylogenies indicate that cospeciation did happen along with some host-switching.

OK, remember the word “Imagine” earlier? That’s what this paragraph just admitted to. This hypothetical situation hasn’t been observed, but if you begin with an evolutionary bias, then SOME things we observe sort of hint at this having happened in the past.This web site the Berkly kids have put together is founded on the faith that Evolution is FACT, that is REALLY HAPPENED, and is supposed to show us how Evolution has been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN. Yet, how many of their examples of the FACTS that support evolution are hypothetical, rare to non-existent, or require a lot of assumptions about what the observed data MIGHT mean? Are you noticing that you don’t need to wait for me to call their FACTS into question? These guys are already doing most of that for me, and that’s on the examples they feel pretty good about. They’ve got a bunch more they GLOSS right over.


Like the speciation discussed previously, I can see how this kind of thing can occur, at least in theory, but even if we find a hundred examples in the field (Which, by their admission, we have not) THIS IS NOT EVOLUTION! Variations within a kind are not evolution UNLESS they are the result of an increase of new genetic information. Replace gopher with island and parasite with finch and this is the same event as before- a species with a wide range of genetic information for certain traits is put in a situation where some of those genes are beneficial and thus a certain phenotype does better than others.

NO new information has been formed, and the only possible outcomes are 1. Information stays the same but not all of it is expressed, or 2. Some genes are lost because their expression does not help survival and thus those who carry those genes don’t live to pass them on. Once again, this can NEVER, even in 4.5 billion years, result in the kind of changes that turn bacteria into wolves and cabbages. All this will do is turn gophers into gophers, lice into lice, owls into owls, and finches into finches. There is no justification for calling it evolution because- and stop me if I am going too fast- NOTHING IS EVOLVING.

Macroevolution encompasses the grandest trends and transformations in evolution, such as the origin of mammals and the radiation of flowering plants. Macroevolutionary patterns are generally what we see when we look at the large-scale history of life.

Which is (allegedly) in the distant past and therefore is unobservable, and thus is not science but faith.

It is not necessarily easy to “see” macroevolutionary history; there are no firsthand accounts to be read.

Which is basically what I just said. It not only isn’t observable now, it was never observed. I actually HAVE a firsthand account of how all living things came to be. It’s called Genesis chapter one. If you’ve been following so far, all of the evidence which the Understanding Evolution Team has put up in support of evolution has actually done a better job of supporting the Genesis account. I don’t think they intended it to be that way, but observed facts and logic are stubborn that way. They don’t always dance to the tune you play them. 

Instead, we reconstruct the history of life using all available evidence: geology, fossils, and living organisms.

Once we’ve figured out what evolutionary events have taken place, we try to figure out how they happened.

Just like in every other section of this site, they never stop to ask IF evolution has happened, but expect you to start with that bias in your head before you even look at the evidence.They don’t even try to say, “Here is the data, what reasonable conclusions can be drawn from it?” Instead, they seem to say, “Because we know Evolution happened, what does the data tell us about HOW or WHEN it happened?” Somebody tell me the definition of “blind faith in a religious dogma” again? Because I suspect it’s different than the definition for “Observational science.”

And if you think I am reading too much into their position, just wait. In a later section they will actually say that NO ONE is asking IF evolution happened, only how and when. I don’t make this stuff up you know. And when you don’t believe me, it hurts my feelings.

Just as in microevolution, basic evolutionary mechanisms like mutation, migration, genetic drift, and natural selection are at work and can help explain many large-scale patterns in the history of life.

Just as in microevolution, no. No they can’t. What little worked for them in micro evolution fails horribly here in the macro. That there are events and situations which can change a finch into a finch does nothing to support the entertaining fairy tale that a bacteria can change into a wolf.

The basic evolutionary mechanisms — mutation, migration, genetic drift, and natural selection — can produce major evolutionary change if given enough time.


A process like mutation might seem too small-scale to influence a pattern as amazing as the beetle radiation, or as large as the difference between dogs and pine trees, but it’s not. Life on Earth has been accumulating mutations and passing them through the filter of natural selection for 3.8 billion years — more than enough time for evolutionary processes to produce its grand history.

This is the miracle which this whole sad story is clinging to- the impossible becoming actual because of the vast amounts of time they propose we’ve had for it to happen. This is why evolution is SO DESPERATE to defend deep time. Deep time is the last chance for this weak sauce theory, but if you’ve been reading up till now you should know that NO amount of time will be enough because none of the proposed mechanisms CAN produce the changes they claim it does.

The impossible does not become actual because of deep time. You cannot spend your way out of debt no matter how long you spend. Organisms losing genetic information will NEVER gain information by losing it, no matter how many millions of years they do it. And when you consider the VAST amount of new genetic information it takes to turn a bacteria into a multi cellular life, and then into a sexually reproducing one, and then a warm blooded placental one, and then a hairy canine one- each of those changes with constant mutations for a billion years each would never happen. You cannot transverse the impossible with enough time. You simply fail for billions of years.

DNA is information, and information ONLY comes from an intelligent will acting to communicate according to a code system. This does not change due to billions of years. Natural Selection only REMOVES genetic variety. This will not result in a gain of information even in billions of years. Over and over deep time fails to save the day, and the sad thing is, the main reason for believing in deep time is a preexisting belief in evolution. This is why evolution has been the cancer eating away at science in the western world. It is the religion which trumps all logic, reason, evidence, and observation.

Case in point: Chemistry tells us that proteins CANNOT last longer than a few tens of thousands of years. After 50,000 years, even in the most ideal conditions, ANY protein will have fallen apart. Present day bio-chemistry tells us this based on experimentation, field discoveries, and observations. Then, Mary Schwitzer found blood vessels and blood cells in a T Rex bone (The first of many recent dinosaur bones with proteins and cells in them). Richard Dawkins has an article on his web site entitled, “Tyrannosaurus rex protein proves dinosaurs evolved into birds.” Did ANYONE question the age of the dinosaurs or the evolutionary time line? Nope. Everyone just decided it is REMARKABLE how protein structures managed to last so much longer than we previously thought they could.

Let me do the math for you: Proteins cannot last longer than 50,000 years. Thus no intact protein structure can be older than 50,000 years- in fact no INTACT protein structure could be THAT old. The T Rex is said by evolutionary time to be 60 million years old. This is a factor of 1200:1.

Get out a nickel and look at how thick it is. It takes about 12 nickles stacked up to make an inch. Now imagine that the thickness of that ONE nickle is the amount of time it takes any once living tissue to turn to dust. That’s under the most ideal conditions. Would you like to question our present day observational science? No problem. Double the time it takes proteins to break down. Now double that. Now Triple that. Supposing biochemistry is wrong by a factor of TWELVE, we can now get proteins- the once living tissues- to last for a FULL INCH. This is 600,000 years- 100,000 times longer than ANY Egyptian Mummy is alleged to be. So, where are those dinosaurs supposed to have lived? More than EIGHT FEET AWAY. Get out a tape measure and just look at it. 

If you want to look at the facts and then ask what they tell us, here’s one. We have INTACT dinosaur tissue- skin, bone, blood and veins. When- according to the existence of that issue- did those dinosaurs live?

Observation tells us an ice cream sandwich in the Sahara desert will only last for one minute. You drop your ice cream sandwich in the desert sands of Africa, under the summer sun, and in 60 seconds it is nothing but a memory.  Now imagine I find a lunch box in the Sahara sands which I claim has been laying out in the sun for 20 hours (Yeah, it’s a long day. It’s just a metaphor, work with me).  When you open the lunch box you see an ice cream sandwich, still mostly intact. Do you marvel at how our understanding of ice cream has been inaccurate? Or do you suggest that this lunch box has NOT been out in the sun for nearly a full day? Apparently, if you’re a Darwinist, you declare that everything we know about ice cream is about to be rewritten. Then you get interviewed by major news channels and magazines, all of which, I may add, feel the need to keep their ice cream in the freezer.

Join me next week for part 19.


Big White Whale (Not a post about dieting)

Lately, the church attenders in our nation have wondered how, if it’s so obvious that Genesis 1-3 are meant to be read as literal history, that so many people with college degrees have decided that it is a literary device meant to teach a spiritual lesson and not real history. Their point is a good one- why would educated people fail to miss the obvious historicity of Genesis 1-3  and then themselves write all kinds of theories about how Genesis is a metaphor for the ancient pagan temple dedication, used by Moses as a literary device to describe how God formatted the world in the guise of a temple, like maybe the Egyptians would have done. It is something of a quandary, and I think I can clear it all up by having you ponder one facet of literary history: Moby Dick.BIG WHITE WHALE copy

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G, Davey, Who IS Mr. God Person?

Your Rent a Friend has it on “Shuffle.” Right now it’s Weird Al with ‘Grapefruit diet.’ If I know my Ipod, the next song will be a rousing march by Souza.

His mood is: …Oh, you don’t want to know. Let’s just say he’s waiting for the day old coffee to kick in.

To the casual observer, theology can seem like a dense underbrush of spiky vines, meshed grasses, towering trees, stinging insects, and near lethal allergens. This is how the rain forest in the Amazon Rain Basin appears to me. I’ve not been there, but I spoke to a friend about it. She went to the Amazon to work on a medical boat, providing assistance to the poor villagers who live on the river. Apparently I was absolutely correct. It’s a miracle that anyone survives living there. Their average stinging insect is the size of a single engine plane. To be fair, the Chicago Suburbs has all the allergens, stinging insects and humidity of the Amazon, but far more traffic due to construction, and where they have trees, we have political corruption. But I digress.

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