“Proof” That Natural Selection Doesn’t Work

What we thought was an unremarkable article appeared last week at PhysOrg, titled: Natural selection, key to evolution, also can impede formation of new species. A couple of excerpts with bold font added by us will give you the general idea:

An intriguing study involving walking stick insects led by the University of Sheffield in England and the University of Colorado Boulder shows how natural selection, the engine of evolution, can also impede the formation of new species.

The team studied a plant-eating stick insect species from California called Timema cristinae known for its cryptic camouflage that allows it to hide from hungry birds, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Samuel Flaxman. T. cristinae comes in several different types — one is green and blends in with the broad green leaves of a particular shrub species, while a second green variant sports a white, vertical stripe that helps disguise it on a different species of shrub with narrow, needle-like leaves.

Okay, what of it? Then we’re told:

While Darwinian natural selection has begun pushing the two green forms of walking sticks down separate paths that could lead to the formation of two new species, the team found that a third melanistic, or brown variation of T. cristinae appears to be thwarting the process, said Flaxman. The brown version is known to successfully camouflage itself among the stems of both shrub species inhabited by its green brethren, he said.

How is the brown walking stick interfering with the speciation of the two green variants? It’s simple:

Using field investigations, laboratory genetics, modern genome sequencing and computer simulations, the team concluded the brown version of T. cristinae is shuttling enough genes between the green stick insects living on different shrubs to prevent strong divergent adaptation and speciation. The brown variant of the walking stick species also is favored by natural selection because it has a slight advantage in mate selection and a stronger resistance to fungal infections than its green counterparts.

Here’s a link to the paper in Current Biology: Selection on a Genetic Polymorphism Counteracts Ecological Speciation in a Stick Insect. All you can see is the abstract, unless you have a subscription. It’s good work, but it doesn’t seem to be a revolutionary discovery.

Because of the brown variant, all three versions of walking stick are part of one big breeding pool, so the two green variants aren’t diverging into separate species. For speciation to occur, it helps if there is an environmental change, such as a food shortage, a predator, or some other factor that will favor some individuals, leaving the others unable to survive long enough to reproduce. Or there may be physical separation, such as Darwin observed in the famous setting of the Galapagos Islands. The observation of the walking sticks was interesting, but we didn’t regard it so unexpected that it was worth mentioning. However, we failed to anticipate the reaction of creationists.

Look what we found today at the Christian Post, which describes itself as “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website.” This is their headline: Natural Selection, ‘Engine of Evolution,’ May Actually Inhibit Evolution, Scientists Find. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A team of American and British scientists has published a new report detailing how natural selection, “the engine of evolution,” can actually prevent evolution from happening — a potentially devastating setback for evolutionists.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. Then they quote Darwin’s description of natural selection from what they describe as “his infamous book,” The Origin of Species. We’ll skip that so we can get to the fun stuff:

These findings evidently confirm the position of biblical creationists, who maintain that natural selection does not result in upward evolution and speciation, nor does it add new information to the genetic code.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. How to they leap to that conclusion? They cite a world-famous creationist:

“Natural selection cannot create totally new characteristics that were not possible from the information already in the particular gene pool. It can only select from what already exists in that gene pool,” wrote Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis in his book “One Race One Blood.” “It causes changes that take place within a species or within a kind by weeding out certain characteristics that are not advantageous in a specific environment. It can’t cause one kind to change into another.”

Then they provide additional insight from ol’ Hambo:

“Natural selection does not cause reptiles to evolve into birds — reptiles don’t have the information for feathers; only birds do,” he continued. “You’d have to have brand-new information to get something brand new that never previously existed or was possible from the information available. That’s not what’s happening; natural selection is basically a downhill process (or a conserving process). Natural selection results in a loss of genetic information and/or redistribution of pre-existing information.”

Okay, that’s enough. This incident is a good example of what we call the Creationist Scientific Method:

1. Select a conclusion which you hope is true.
2. Find one piece of evidence that possibly might fit.
3. Ignore all other evidence.
4. That’s it.

We expect to see ol’ Hambo crowing about this at his own blog.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to ““Proof” That Natural Selection Doesn’t Work

  1. “However, we failed to anticipate the reaction of creationists.”
    You are forgiven. For a mentally healthy person it’s impossible to entirely get the creationist mindset. See it in a positive light: it’s nice to be surprised!

  2. I wish I could say these people are too stupid for words. But they are not! They are worse!! They are smart so they can twist BS into sounding smart!
    Most people would think well they seem to have something!?!?! But that’s because evilution does not enter their everyday world. So they may not realize that what this was about was NOT ‘natural selection’ as they are correct as natural selection does not itself add or change genetic information, but is the method that change is accepted as viable. The genetic changes are over long time as mutation thru radiation from various sources.
    What these people are doing is arguing against one thing by discussing something else.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    I saw this article posted on the ID Facebook group by one Denyse (link to UD.com), where it gets immediately called out that the source actually says evolution can promote or hinder change. Just picking the part that supports their conclusion, as SC says.

  4. These findings evidently confirm the position of biblical creationists, who maintain that natural selection does not result in upward evolution and speciation, nor does it add new information to the genetic code.

    Funny thing. I don’t recall where the Bible says anything about “natural selection”, “upward evolution”, “speciation”, “new information”, or “genetic code”. (Not even “downward evolution” or “lateral evolution” or “circular evolution”! Nor “old information”.)

    Biblical creationists wouldn’t be taking a position without a Biblical proof-text saying something about the topic. Right?

  5. Charles Deetz references

    I saw this article posted on the ID Facebook group by one Denyse (link to UD.com)

    This can only be our beloved Dense O’Leary, a master chef of the word salad, who serves up veritable Waldorfs of Twaddle on the DI blog

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    @Magalonyx Yes, she is a regular poster there, linking to UD and EN and random science news. She doesn’t seem to engage in any discussion, thankfully.

  7. Once again we have proof the IDiots haven’t a clue about gene flow, gene mutation, natural selection, evolution, or anything else that bears on their argument.

  8. Megalonyx speaks of “our beloved Dense O’Leary.”

    She too, is all yours.

  9. Eddie Janssen

    “Natural selection cannot create totally new characteristics that were not possible from the information already in the particular gene pool. It can only select from what already exists in that gene pool,”

    It looks to me Ken Ham is absolutely right here. But maybe someone can tell him about mutations, which happen to change the genepool.

  10. Christine Janis

    “— reptiles don’t have the information for feathers”

    Do too!

    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/11/20/your-inner-feather/

  11. Eureka! This is the heretofore missing link between two distinct types of stick insect, links which creationists claim do not exist.

    Except, of course, when they are found. Apparently the links then somehow mutate into evidence against evolution.

    (I suspect the brown variety’s genetic history is a little more complicated, but it’s the principle that counts)

  12. Every time I see something like this where creationists take their own misunderstanding and ignorance as evidence for their position, I am reminded of one of the most memorable scenes from my elementary years:

    When the teacher had just given us a cursory introduction to algebra, she stepped out for a moment. My indignant classmates then freely exclaimed in the absence of the teacher that “YOU CAN’T ADD LETTERS!”

    Here we have creationist reasoning distilled: algebra is evidence that math is impossible.

  13. Natural selection cannot create totally new characteristics that were not possible from the information already in the particular gene pool. It can only select from what already exists in that
    gene pool.”

    It looks to me Ken Ham is absolutely right here. But maybe someone can tell him about mutations, which happen to change the genepool.

    Groan . . . this again.

    I’m sure the Hamster knows about mutations. I’m also sure that if asked, he’d claim that mutations can’t add any useful information to the genome, because they’re always harmful. The fact that this isn’t so, and that scientists have observed beneficial mutations, even in humans, won’t bother him, because he’ll say these are only “minor adaptations.” I suspect he also knows that if some major beneficial change occurred, it almost certainly would be artificial (the result of genetic engineering) and thus would prove nothing about natural evolution.

    As for information, that, like energy, is transferrable, so there’s no need to suppose that the genome of any species cannot increase its complexity (at the expense of something else).

    I sure get tired of the games these people play.

  14. Our Curmudgeon continues to distribute his bounty:

    She [Denyse O’Leary] too, is all yours.

    I’ll take a rain check on that one, too.

    But who knows? Someday, I may need a heart transplant and will be seeking a donor?