Natural Selection – Evolution Magic

Natural Selection is described as “the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype”. To this, some add “blind, mindless, and purposeless environmental process” that nonetheless is imagined turning random genetic mutations into superior new features enhancing descendants’ survivability (fitness). Accumulation of these features supposedly turns one lifeform into another over time. Natural Selection seeks to explain the appearance of design in nature without appealing to a designer.

This definition however fails the simplest test as different phenotypes survive different environments thus delinking phenotype from survivability. In a small farm, only organisms closely related to their wild cousins survive, but agribusinesses select for chickens with oversize breasts and research labs select for populations with specific genetic mutations requiring tight environments to survive. Although all these have different phenotypes, they do not possess an intrinsic phenotype “fitness” independent of the environment. In addition, who decides what is natural and what is not? Darwin considered domestication natural enough to include it as supporting argument. And as far as “blind, mindless, and purposeless”, all these are impossible to prove in addition to being utterly incompatible with the anthropic concepts of “better adapted” and “better fit”, both of which cannot be evaluated independent of survivability anyway.

Natural Selection is supposed to tie both ways survivability with phenotype, but this leaves out the environment which not only affects survivability directly, but also phenotype, itself a sum of genotype plus the environment, and even genotype that is a recurrent function of previous genotypes and the environment again. So in the end, survivability is a recurrent function of genotype, an infinite continuum of environments, and other unknown factors. While survivability can be measured as can be the individual genotype, measuring a population’s genotype is daunting at best, and the impact of the ever changing environment is simply impossible to evaluate. Phenotypes are impossible to define and measure in entirety even for one individual and, in addition, phenotype changes constantly from birth to adult to old age. We do see genetic mutations (unknowable if random) and we do know that, given a similar environment, extreme genotypes reduce survivability, yet we also know that a large variety of genotypes survive just fine in any population.

Fitness is never defined independently of survivability – this renders the fitness concept redundant especially since survivability can be measured while fitness cannot. Evolutionary Fitness is defined as the quantitative representation of natural and sexual selection (reproductive success) of a genotype or phenotype in a given environment. “Survival of the fittest” is interpreted as: “Survival of the form (phenotypic or genotypic) that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations.” Not only is survivability the only measure, but survivability also changes with the environment.

Natural Selection is Intelligent Selection which is always done by an Intelligent Selector such as Darwin’s breeder which is an intelligent and willful player that takes intentional actions to reach preset goals. Predators, plants, birds, insects or bacteria, all show intelligence and the willful pursuit of predetermined goals. When interacting with the inert environment, organisms self-select rather than being selected by this environment. As soon as the organism dies and becomes part of the lifeless universe, all selection of that entity ceases.

Selection is limited to a narrow set of possible adaptations – what is not there, cannot be selected. Among the most common adaptations are body color/size/shape, hair type, antibiotic/chemical resistance, and behavior, and even these are limited in scope. Farmers would like to grow walking chicken breasts the size of hogs that grow much faster and come in various flavors, but this is not happening despite their best efforts. Antibiotic resistant bacteria still cannot survive extreme temperatures and chemical concentrations and their resistance decreases when the stimulus is removed. Rabbits cannot turn green when hopping over grass and white just over winter, despite the clear advantage such camouflage would bring. Size of tails, horns, beaks, trees, etc. are all stable over time as tradeoffs limit their growth. Human intelligence, flying, swimming, venom, and all other desirable capabilities remain restricted to specific organisms. Domestication has greatly helped mankind’s progress, but it has not changed the nature of the target animals and plants despite intensive efforts to accelerate their evolution. Instead, humans only enhanced the built in characteristics of domestic organisms and simply did without – a huge civilization disadvantage – when those plants and animals were unavailable. Hence, selection does not “design”, is limited in scope to a few available characteristics, and is reversed as soon as the selection pressure ends.

Extinct organism were not flawed and their features were not “selected away”. Most characteristics of the extinct survive just fine in current organisms of which some changed so little over time they are called living fossils. Sure, the mammal eye might provide superior vision to insect eye, but nothing comes for free and tradeoffs ensure both survive. Organisms that have completely vanished cannot be characterized as flawed and it would not take much imagination to see them thriving in a current landscape. The environment may have changed dramatically over time, however on a macro scale, the environment affected all organisms making the “natural selection” explanation highly doubtful regarding why some organisms survived in their old form, why some went extinct and why others would survive in a changed form. Humans and apes shared the same environment in Africa so common genotype would not have caused our dramatic differences just as lions are not that different than leopard, the cheetah and the others.

What if anything should replace Natural Selection? Humans have applied the most intensive and targeted selective pressure on us and others with great results for our existence. Yet we have not transformed even one organism into another – not even the lowly eColi after decades of laboratory work (Lenski). Our dogs are still basic canines and our cats are still basic felines, not much different than their wild cousins. If anything, we had to adapt to them rather than them to us. The finch, the moth, the antibiotic resistant bacteria are still the original organisms, their hailed changes having reverted or proven simple adaptations. We are no smarter, more powerful or longer living (in absolute) than out primitive ancestors. Selection is not transformative, much less creative.

Humans would apply the Natural Selection method if feasible. But we don’t because it isn’t. A Natural Selection software would use a random generator and a selection criteria to maximize survivability in an available niche. For instance, a family vehicle should optimize the transport function (survivability) given a set of environmental constraints (regulations) and an existing design as starting point. Random minute changes could be tested and retained if the transport function is improved. However, this method can only remove minor oversights but will never create any new designs. Any significant departure such as a new fuel, material or environment either results in a suboptimal design, or requires a cascade of changes to improve the survivability function. That is why the auto industry, like most other industries, introduces minor redesign annually and major revamps every few years. And while even the minor improvements must come in harmonized packages rather than one off (to reduce negative ramifications), in the absence of those major redesigns a firm would shortly go extinct.

Designs do not transform into better designs without crossing an inevitable optimization gap. Given a certain environment, once a design is optimized for a certain function, it becomes suboptimal as soon as the function, the structure, or the materials changes. Until the new design is optimized for that particular change, it remains inferior to an old design already optimized to that environment. Humans optimize new designs (with multidimensional differences from previous versions) conceptually before abruptly replacing old designs. A Darwinist biologic gradual design transition would thus be impossible hence never observed in nature. Had the compound eye been optimized first, a transition to non-compound eye would inevitably had to be suboptimal for a while and vice versa. Only if all eye designs had started from the same point, each following an independent path and at the same pace would we have so many different designs today, each optimized for its function. This however implies a coordinated original grand design incompatible with Darwinian evolution.

Pro-Con Notes

Con: What about organic design? Isn’t that natural selection at work?

Pro: No. This is just iterative optimization of a given design. In this case, the wing shape, the material, the environmental forces and the optimization target are all given. The algorithm will not generate a new wing shape or material and it will stop converging as soon as the environment is less than perfectly defined. In addition, this design is radically different from the previous one, and the next iteration will certainly be radically different than this one (no gradualism).

Con: You just don’t understand natural selection.

Pro: If “natural selection” were hard to understand it would not be taught to young children. Instead, “natural selection” is more like very bad street magic where the bus is covered with the cloth and we then are asked to imagine it disappeared without even removing the cloth and showing us the empty space.

610 thoughts on “Natural Selection – Evolution Magic

  1. J-Mac,

    After looking over Well’s paper, I did not feel any closer to understanding how a zygote becomes a fully formed animal. I look forward to you closing the gap. As far as killing Neo darwinism, I think that ship has sailed with the genetic information argument.

  2. colewd:

    Your hypothesis is interesting but you have some work to do:-)

    I get it! But look at it this way: DNA can’t account for this information…
    So, where is it coming from? Give me a hint or two!
    ETA: are you aware that mitosis and some “mutations” are controlled by quantum mechanics?

  3. J-Mac,

    So, where is it coming from? Give me a hint or two!

    From my understanding of cell division a lot of it is determined by transcriptional proteins. Some partially control their own transcriptions. Stem cells can be produced by the WNT pathway during embryo development. How they get targeted for differentiation is unknown and Well’s did not shed real light on this.

    He is right that information can come from small molecules but these molecules do not operate independent of proteins as far as I know. Vitamin D (a small molecule) down regulates cell division and vascular growth but only with other transcriptional proteins. The interesting thing is if all the transcriptional proteins are available and vitamin D is not then transcription does not occur.

    Where I would search for quantum effects is in the literature on photosynthesis as we know this is a quantum reaction. I have seen data that hitting proteins with certain frequency of light can get them to change shape.

    You have quite a big mountain to climb here but it is interesting. I think your hypothesis that quantum effects are a big part of molecular biology is worth pursuing. I will do some searches and see if I can find anything worth while.

  4. J-Mac: onlin,
    Regarding natural selection and its magical abilities one thing is worth mentioning: its magical ability to add information in the cell differentiation process of embryo development that is independent or beyond DNA as indicated by category theory…
    Unless natural selection can operate on subatomic level rearranging quantum information…

    Interesting stuff, thanks. Of course DNA is not the full story – since it’s only 1GB of data, it can’t possibly specify organism development: .

    I agree with colewd:

    colewd: Your hypothesis is interesting but you have some work to do:-)

    One thing is clear: Darwinism is too retard for this day and age.

  5. colewd,

    Quantum effects in biology will become, and already are, the additional nails in the coffin of Darwinism…
    Birds navigation by quantum entanglement, photosynthesis, mitosis, mutations are just the beginning the end… These quantum effects couldn’t have possibly evolved by any known Darwinian mechanisms…

    No, I will not be closing that gap…

  6. J-Mac,

    These quantum effects couldn’t have possibly evolved by any known Darwinian mechanisms…

    I agree but Darwinian evolution starts with functioning life which starts with functioning matter. Quantum mechanics is part of how that matter interacts.

    What am I missing?

  7. J-Mac: Quantum effects in biology will become, and already are, the additional nails in the coffin of Darwinism…


    These quantum effects couldn’t have possibly evolved by any known Darwinian mechanisms…


  8. colewd: I agree but Darwinian evolution starts with functioning life which starts with functioning matter. Quantum mechanics is part of how that matter interacts.

    What am I missing?

    You’re not missing anything, other than the fact that what you just said completely undermines J-mac’s statement with which you apparently agree. So you have no reason to agree with it.

  9. J-Mac: These quantum effects couldn’t have possibly evolved by any known Darwinian mechanisms…

    Except for normal positive and negative selection.

    How could Darwinian mechanisms possibly differentiate between “quantum effects” and classical physics? It’s really the same physics anyhow.

    Glen Davidson

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