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.
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.
Why the hell would they? Your whole post collapses on this inane statement.
Fitness is context-specific. Nobody ever thought otherwise. I have low fitness in the ocean. In fact I’d probably drown from simple fatigue in less than 15 minutes if you threw me in the ocean. Put a fish on land where it can’t jump back into water and it’ll die too. We are adapted to certain environments. Adaptation follows the environment as it changes, provided it isn’t too fast.
Why would it be impossible? If the environment changes, the “old design” is then less optimized, so why can’t it then adapt to the new environmental change?
You make a lot of grand and sweeping statements about what must happen, or can’t happen, or is impossible, but you never provide any supporting arguments that show why the things you declare must happen, or are impossible, actually must happen, or actually are impossible.
The method has been used to design things like windmill propellers, aircraft wings, spacecraft antennae and who knows what else.
See for example this link where a Darwinian algorithm was used to evolve a very efficient spacecraft antenna design: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolved_antenna.
Or here where a similar process was used to evolve a very efficient aircraft design: Parametric Study of a Genetic Algorithm using a Aircraft Design Optimization Problem.
So human designers DO apply the natural selection method, because it IS feasible.
If phenotypes are delinked from “survivability”, adaptations can not exist. That makes the amazing creations of the Designer look rather pointless as well, I am afraid.
Uh, no. Survival is the probability of remaining alive during some time interval. The wildtype allele in this experiment does not affect that trait. It affects male mating success. Survival is an important component of fitness, but usually not the only one. You are just wrong.
Well that’s pretty poor understanding of what happens, but what do you think Archaeopteryx shows?
It’s hardly an optimized bird, but it does fly a lot better than its ancestors did.
So parasites that blind children are explicitly designed to do that by your intelligent designer? And do you worship that being?
Can’t you read? “Natural Selection” collapses since it’s defined as “the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype”.
And that’s just one point, not “the whole post”.
This is a clear engineering example. For a while it’s sub-optimal because of the optimization gap. A chimp in the savanna is a dead chimp before it would ever have a chance to turn into a human.
I addressed this example on my site: https://www.nature.com/news/supercomputer-redesign-of-aeroplane-wing-mirrors-bird-anatomy-1.22759
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).
You make no sense.
What are you talking about? The only measure of anything is the number of descendants that SURVIVE. Yes, “male mating success” is survivability.
Aside from the fact you don’t know anything about Archaeopteryx, and I mean ANYTHING, flying is not the issue. It’s the overall optimization to the environment. So unless said Archaeopteryx got its wings overnight, it would be dead in the water and extinct before taking off.
You make no sense. The topic is “Natural Selection – Evolution Magic”. Stay on topic.
I haven’t seen an OP which screams “I DON’T UNDERSTAND EVOLUTIONARY THEORY EVEN A LITTLE!” that loudly in years.
It’s hard to know where to begin to deconstruct that much concentrated FAIL.
Sure I do, but I can see that we are not really aligned here.
Consider this example of camouflage. It only makes sense if the moth lives in an environment with trees against which it can hide from predators. To me this looks like an adaptation that increases survival. Yet you are trying to tell us that, because the survival advantage can only be cashed out in a particular environment, it doesn’t exist at all.
Not only doesn’t that make sense from an evolutionary point of view. It doesn’t make sense from a Design perspective either. What is the bloody point of camouflage if it doesn’t affect survival?
No, another measure would be the relative proportion of those descendants in a population, for example. That can be achieved without any differences in survivability.
Nice, perfectly aligned pepper-moth with the bark of the tree…
But here is my problem… Pepper-moths do not rest on tree trunks during the day…so how was this picture taken???
Please tell us it isn’t so, Corneel?
The pepper-moth wasn’t glued to the tree trunk, was it? How else could this picture have been taken? And more importantly, why would anybody glue a dead pepper-moth to the tree trunk? What would anybody try to prove by this obvious deception?
It isn’t so, J-Mac
It’s not Biston betularia J-Mac, but some species of Underwing (Catocala). It was shot by an amateur photographer in Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park, Canada. Just follow the link.
That Jesus never existed, obviously!
Hmm… Anywhere? As long as you have intelligent argument…
I am not saying that. Read again.
Hmm… Anywhere? As long as you have intelligent argument…
I am not saying that. Read again: “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.”
How do you calculate “the relative proportion of those descendants” other than by counting (or sampling) to surviving descendants and divide that by the total population? What “differences in survivability” are you talking about?
Not much better, I am afraid. Because “phenotypes are impossible to define and measure in entirety” and “phenotype changes constantly from birth to adult to old age” camouflage can not increase survival?
Also you have ducked the problem that for many designed adaptations to make sense, you need a link between phenotype and survival as well.
I don’t calculate it differently. But this in itself suffices to disprove your claim that “selection and survival are one and the same”. Obviously, you require fitness variation to get natural selection going. Because you equate fitness to survival I simply need to demonstrate that natural selection can proceed without any differences in survivability. And the proportion of descendants of a certain lineage can increase solely because of differences in growth rate, such as was the case in Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment for example.
How would YOU know about Archaeopteryx? When was the last time you saw an Archaeopteryx fly? Talk about “poor understanding”, it seems you didn’t understand the optimization gap. Read again.
Can’t you understand anything?
Just another extremely ignorant creationist.
Where do you get “camouflage can not increase survival”?
Also, if phenotype is a purely theoretical concept (because you can’t measure as seen), how do you link it (something purely theoretical) with something else that is real?
I like the magic attribute of natural selection you expose but I find that many Darwinosaurs often believe in the omnipotence of natural selection…
I have to admit that I don’t blame them…If you really analyze closely what kind of creative power natural selection would need to fulfill the expectations that Darwiosaurs put on it, it is a lot of unreasonable pressure unless it is magic or omnipotence…
The problem arises when the abilities of natural selections are properly screened….but that is not what Darwiosaurs want to do or would ever like to do…
Their set of beliefs is unshakable: right or wrong. As it should be. Blind belief seems to never fail…
Why don’t you just say you don’t like what he says instead? If you don’t like what he says, provide evidence… I don’t like his views because they make your views look like s…t doesn’t cut anymore Glen, especially when you are confused… which has not been an issue until today…apparently…. 😉
What are you talking about? Your statements shows great confusion.
1. “Fitness is never defined independently of survivability – this renders the fitness concept redundant especially since survivability can be measured while fitness cannot.” Because of this, there is no “fitness variation” that does anything. Disagree by describing you “fitness function” if you can.
2. “to get natural selection going” is nonstarter as there’s no such thing as “natural selection” – this is what I am demonstrating with this analysis. There can be intelligent selection, but even that doesn’t lead to the species transmutation imagined. We’ve tried for thousands of years and only gotten canines out of canines and felines out of felines.
3. “proportion of descendants of a certain lineage” is meaningless. What’s a “lineage”? Remember each organism is different that all others.
4. What do you mean “differences in growth rate”? Between who and who? Again, each organism is different.
5. All these (1 to 4) aside, what’s your overall argument. Be clear!
“Phenotype: the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.”
Does not sound purely theoretical, it seems to me that once you observe a thing it is no longer purely theoretical. It exists.
Of course. This is their religion, but since they won’t acknowledge, we have to analyze their dogma using the scientific method and demonstrate it fails.
Mine is an attempt to deconstruct the black box called “natural selection” and that many (sadly, on all sides) take for granted. This is the heart of the beast if you will – take this down and you destroy the whole Darwinist myth.
Phenotype is “what sets us apart”. Guess what? An infinity of things set us apart. Can you measure “what sets us apart”? No. Then it’s a theoretical concept. Say you measure height. It sets us apart and is included in phenotype, but it is not phenotype. So no, phenotype is not observable even when height is (even if forever changing).
You don’t understand one thing…
Even most Darwinists, in the right frame of mind that is, know that their theory is a myth…But that’s not what it is about…
It is not about who is right or wrong…It is not even about truth…If it were about truth, Darwiosaurs would have some insight or a perception of right or wrong, truth or untruth…
They don’t have that… It’s not possible to accomplish your admirable goal…
Do you think that anyone at this point thinks that random change to the genome can gain fitness over time even with the selection mechanism? Many posts here try to argue common descent without a specific mechanism.
It seems like mosts evolutionists recognize the problem with natural selection as a mechanism.
Many are like that, yes. But this is not for them, it’s an attempt to crystallize a clear, simple, and logic argument for the benefit of those not yet completely brainwashed and more importantly for the too many “theistic evolutionists” out there. I take it you wouldn’t write here were you seriously proposing to give up.
Most might recognise the problem with natural selection’s omnipotence, but as most Darwiosaurs, they are not, or should not, be acquainted with evidence against their beliefs…
Darwiosauria is not science… It is a religion based on faith without evidence…
Blinded by the Darwinosauria is a new, not yet fully accepted psychological disorder….
I have yet to see one evolutionist that argues “common descent without a specific mechanism”. How would it work without a mechanism?
Moved a post to guano.
Do you make these stupid Creationist proclamations just to make yourself sleep better at night?
This is a record post with 5k comments. In this post Dr. Harshman claimed that common descent was separate from a mechanism and included divine mutations. Finding the specific quote would take some time but no one seemed to disagree.
So you either misread something or are just making it up whole cloth. Neither makes you look very bright.
Here is a quote form Dr Harshman from that post:
As he is claiming common descent does not explain new features, and he has clearly separated common descent from the blind watchmaker thesis.
OK, you brutally misunderstood the point John was making and got it all wrong in your re-telling. No surprises there.
I doubt an infinity of things exists.
What makes us similar might be easier to determine , then whatever is left is what sets us apart. And strange if determination created some kind of pattern.
I can tell a dog from a cat. I must be observing something and comparing it a concept of cat and dog . Maybe you mean something else.
Not to nit pick but you said “purely theoretical “. The components that make phenotype are observable by definition. I thought creationists were into kinds. How do you tell kinds apart? Are kinds purely theoretical?
Here is a post from Harshman that shows his view:
Which directly contradicts your earlier claim no one has identified any mechanism(s) for evolution.
Do you ever try thinking before posting your creationist idiocy?
How did you come up with this claim?
I read the stupidity you wrote.
You obviously did not understand the point.
Bill hears what he wants to hear. I would try to explain to him if I thought it would do any good.
Are you retracting your claim that evolutionary mechanisms are separate from common descent?
The stupidity you continually write rarely has a point.
He never made that claim. You really don’t think about what you write before you post.