…This brings us back to the UC Berkeley “Understanding Evolution” website. It abuses science in its utterly unfounded claim that “natural selection can produce amazing adaptations.”
In fact natural selection, even at its best, does not “produce” anything. Natural selection does not and cannot influence the construction of any adaptations, amazing or not. If a mutation occurs which improves differential reproduction, then it propagates into future generations. Natural selection is simply the name given to that process. It selects for survival that which already exists. Natural selection has no role in the mutation event. It does not induce mutations, helpful or otherwise, to occur. According to evolutionary theory every single mutation, leading to every single species, is a random event with respect to need.
He has forgotten what “adaptation” means. Of course he is correct that “Natural selection is simply the name given to [differential reproduction]”. And that (as far as we know), “every single mutation …is a random event with respect to need”.
And “adaptation” is the name we give to variants that are preferentially reproduced. So while he would be correct to say that “natural selection” is NOT the name we give to “mutation” (duh); it IS the name we give to the very process that SELECTS those mutations that promote reproduction. i.e. the process that produces adaptation.
Cornelius should spend more time at the Understanding Evolution website.
ETA: CharlieM points out below that…
When CH says that natural selection does not produce adaptations he is talking about individual organisms. He is discussing mutations in individuals and adaptations in individuals. Natural selection has nothing to do with the first appearance of an adaptation in an individual.
And that of course is the confusion – I hadn’t seen just where Cornelius’s confusion lay. Because, of course, the term “adaptation” is a population-level concept. At the level of the individual, the equivalent would be “advantageous mutation”. And that makes the Understanding Evolution website absolutely correct.