Saturday, June 11, 2005

Outstanding Evolution Essay Part Deux

I linked to a great essay on evolution here. This essay is a very entertaining and lucid piece, and even contains a section addressing what I call the "butterfly conundrum":
[C]onsider caterpillars. A caterpillar has no obvious resemblance to a butterfly. The disparity in engineering is huge. The caterpillar has no legs, properly speaking, certainly no wings, no proboscis. How did a species that did not undergo metamorphosis evolve into one that did? Pupating looks like something you do well or not at all: If you don't turn into something practical at the end, you don't get another chance.

Think about this. The ancestor of a modern caterpillar necessarily was something that could reproduce already. To get to be a butterfly-producing sort of organism, it would have to evolve silk-extruding organs, since they are what you make a cocoon with. OK, maybe it did this to tie leaves together, or maybe the beast resembled a tent-caterpillar. (Again, plausibility over evidence.) Then some mutation caused it to wrap itself experimentally in silk. (What mutation? Are we serious?) It then died, wrapped, because it had no machinery to cause it to undergo the fantastically complex transformation into a butterfly. Death is usually a discouragement to reproduction.

Tell me how the beast can gradually acquire, by accident, the capacity gradually to undergo all the formidably elaborate changes from worm to butterfly, so that each intermediate form is a practical organism that survives. If evolutionists cannot answer such questions, the theory fails.

Here the evolutionist will say, "Fred, caterpillars are soft, squashy things and don't leave good fossils, so it's unreasonable to expect us to find proof." I see the problem. But it is unreasonable to expect me to accept something on the grounds that it can't be proved. Yes, it is possible that an explanation exists and that we just haven't found it. But you can say that of anything whatever. Is it good science to assume that evidence will be forthcoming because we sure would like it to be? I'll gladly give you evidence Wednesday for a theory today?

Note that I am not asking evolutionists to give detailed mechanics for the evolution of everything that lives. If they gave convincing evidence for a few of the hard cases – proof of principle, so to speak – I would be inclined to believe that equally good evidence existed for the others. But they haven't.

Yes. I've been looking for a chance to write a small blurb about butterfly evolution. Now, when the caterpillar encases himself in the cocoon, what does biology tell us about what happens next? What happens next is this (sorry, I don't remember where I first read about all this): the caterpillar literally dissolves into a slurry of undifferentiated cells. Then the butterfly begins its formation from various points that are located toward the outside edge of the slurry, with not much correlation between where particular parts were located on the caterpillar and where the new analogous parts (such as they are; I mean a caterpillar doesn't have legs or wings or antennae) begin to form for the butterfly.

So all this being the case, how would typical Darwinian logic (the stuff we learned in school) be applied? "Well, those caterpillars which happened to emerge as totally different creatures after dissolving into a slurry survived to reproduce, while the ones that didn't didn't." Sure. That explains it. Case closed, I guess.

It is interesting to me that one of the prettiest of all creatures (the butterfly) has a life cycle that shouts out against Darwinism and towards design. It is also interesting to me that this same creature is a powerful symbol of death, entombment, corruption, and resurrection to glorified life.

But, hey, that's just me.

3 comments:

Richard Bennett said...

So your argument against evolution goes something like this: "anything I don't understand must have been God's work."

That's fine as far as it goes, but don't expect that people who make their living trying to figure things out will accept it.

There are tons of species that take one form in their juvenile stage and another as adults; corals, for example. It's not at all uncommon.

And on the essay you linked: the first part deals with the origin of life, a subject about which evolution is silent. Essays on evolution that begin this way are always bogus.

darwin sceptic said...

No the argument is not that "anything I don't understand must have been God's work."

The argument is why are we expected to accept evolution as a proven fact when the proof lies millions and even billions of years in the past. No human saw it happen. No one documented it, at least not in a manner that can be accepted as unquestionable scientific fact. With no documentation from scientifically trustworthy observers there is no way to know if the alleged natural selection process of evolution even occured much less if the natural selection processes we see today are a continuation of those processes.

Even the best scientific explanations based on the best fossil records are not the same as scientifically proven facts. Other scientific fields require observable and repeatable results before a theory is accepted as fact. Unfortunately for both evolutionists and creationists, the development of life on this planet was unobserved history. Moving beyond the theory stage for any explanation is highly unlikely.

Evolutionary theory was not always silent on the origin of life. I grew up reading and listening to evolutionists go on about the primordial soup. That silence you speak of is a recent occurence.

Evolution has become its own religious dogma.

Richard Bennett said...

Natural selection still takes place, and the fossil record is very good. There is as much if not more evidence for natural selection as for any other scientific theory.

And no, the origins of life can't be explained by natural selection. If you want to say "God did a miracle and there was life" you're certainly welcome to do that. Meanwhile, science will endeavor to discover exactly how God's mirable unfolded.