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Third Member of National Academy of Sciences to Criticize Darwinism also Trashes Dawkins

Greetings this Friday the 13! It is an unlucky day for Darwinism when Dawkins and Darwinism are criticized by the most elite members of the scientific community.

The most elite scientists in the United States are recognized by their membership in the National Academy of Sciences. To date, I’m now aware of 3 members who have expressed some form of serious criticism of Darwinism. The first brave NAS member was Phil Skell (see: Phil Skell Writing for Forbes ). Another NAS member critical of Darwinism is Masotoshi Nei (see: Peer-Reviewed Article Critical of Darwinism by NAS Member, Evolution by Absence of Selection.).

And now with his recent induction into the National Academy, Michael Lynch is the third member I’m aware of to be openly critical of Darwinism. This time Lynch uses the Proceeding of National Academy to lambast the behavior of Darwinists. He delivers the ultimate insult of his colleagues, he likens them to creationists!

His lambasting can be found here in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: The frailty of adaptive hypotheses for the origins of organismal complexity

The article was a gold mine of quotable morsels:

the myth that all of evolution can be explained by adaptation continues to be perpetuated by our continued homage to Darwin’s treatise (6)
in the popular literature. For example, Dawkins’ (7–9) agenda to spread the word on the awesome power of natural selection has been quite successful, but it has come at the expense of reference to any other mechanisms, a view that is in some ways profoundly misleading.

So what does Lynch propose instead of natural selection? The euphemism Lynch uses is the phrase “neutral evolution” which is evolution that occurs in the absence of natural selection. He argues the default mode of evolution should not be evolution by natural selection, but evolution in the absence of natural selection. This has been mathematically and empirically demonstrated through the work of Pagels, Kimural, Jukes, King, Nei, (unwittingly) Haldane, and so many others.

One will rightly object that “neutral evolution” isn’t really a of mechanism for creation of complexity, only a description of the conditions where complexity arose. For example, I could say the Faces on Mount Rushmore or Video Game X-boxes have little reproductive selective value and thus their emergence is subject to “neutral evolution”. Such a description is hardly informative! “Neutral evolution” only states that evolution happened without natural selection but instead by other mechanisms, but it doesn’t give details of what those mechanism were! We can save further discussion of “neutral evolution” for another day. The important thing is that the body of research supporting “neutral evolution” is a devastating mathematical critique of Darwinism!

Most biologists are so convinced that all aspects of biodiversity arise from adaptive processes that virtually no attention is given to the null hypothesis of neutral evolution, despite the availability of methods to do so (32–34). Such religious adherence to the adaptationist paradigm has been criticized as being devoid of intellectual merit (35), ….

You’ll have to read the rest of the paper to see his mathematical take down of Darwinism based on his field of expertise, namely, Population Genetics. Lynch is considered one of the world’s leading population geneticists and no doubt it was for this expertise he was elected to the national academy. I encourage UD visotors to read Lynch’s paper. There are so many other parts of this great paper, but in closing, I’ll highlight this one where lynch likens Darwinists to creationists:

the field of evolution attracts significantly more speculation than the average area of science.….
it is often claimed that ill-defined mechanisms not previously appreciated by evolutionary biologists must be invoked to explain the existence of emergent properties that putatively enhance the long-term success of extant taxa. This stance is not very different from the intelligent-design philosophy of invoking unknown mechanisms to explain biodiversity. Although those who promote the concept of the adaptive evolution of the above features are by no means intelligent-design advocates, the burden of evidence for invoking an all-powerful guiding hand of natural selection should be no less stringent than one would demand of a creationist. If evolutionary science is to move forward, the standards of the field should be set no lower than in any other area of inquiry.

The field of population genetics is technically demanding, and it is well known that most biologists abhor all things mathematical. However, the details do matter in the field of evolutionary biology. As discussed above, many aspects of biology that superficially appear to have adaptive roots almost certainly owe their existence in part to nonadaptive processes.

Buy Lynch’s article can be more succinctly stated by one of his own colleagues who summed up the state of Darwinism:

We Suck!

Jerry Coyne

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6 Responses to Third Member of National Academy of Sciences to Criticize Darwinism also Trashes Dawkins

  1. “Only a tad more than one in four teachers really accepts evolution as scientists conceive of it: a naturalistic process undirected by divine beings. Nearly one in two teachers thinks that humans evolved but that God guided the process.”

    God isn’t going to go away simply because a few atheistic scientists want him to. The phrase “get over it, already” comes to mind.

  2. But Barb, Nietzsche said that God is dead! Are you saying he came back to life?

    I note that Lynch equates intelligent design with creationism. But his statements are heartening. It’s like intelligent design is making an impact but no one wants to admit it. It’s like they are saying “I don’t believe in intelligent design, but (fill in the blank)”

  3. Salvador:One will rightly object that “neutral evolution” isn’t really a of mechanism for creation of complexity, only a description of the conditions where complexity arose.

    And mechanisms for that “arising” are, after all, what all the disagreement is about.

    As de Vries quipped more than a century ago … and thereby pointed out the problem for evolutionism … (to paraphrase) “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.

    How, exactly, can “neutral evolution” explain the arrival of the fittest, any more that ‘natural selection’ can?

  4. Such a description is hardly informative! “Neutral evolution” only states that evolution happened without natural selection but instead by other mechanisms, but it doesn’t give details of what those mechanism were!

    Errm, no. Lynch wrote:

    First, evolution is a population-genetic process governed by four fundamental forces. Darwin (6) articulated one of those forces, the process of natural selection, for which an elaborate theory in terms of genotype frequencies now exists (10, 11). The remaining three evolutionary forces are nonadaptive in the sense that they are not a function of the fitness properties of individuals: mutation is the ultimate source of variation on which natural selection acts, recombination assorts variation within and among chromosomes, and genetic drift ensures that gene frequencies will deviate a bit from generation to generation independent of other forces.

    and he then goes on to discuss the effects of these mechanisms, e.g. drift and mutation.

  5. drift and mutation.

    mutation is change, big deal. A chemical reaction is a change. A car being hit by a rock is changed. Saying something changes is hardly descriptive! To say something mutates from one thing to another is hardly descriptive. By that standard, even creationists are mutationists.

  6. This guy talks like a biblical creationist in complaining about the quality of evolutionary “biologists”.
    Great stuff.
    Yes its crazy speculation on speculation.
    Righto about its not like other sciences.
    Its not science. Its untestable mostly.

    A positive rant.
    If natural selection was wrong as a origin for some things then why not enlarge the list to everything?
    Other mechanisms are just a retreat under modern realties in progress.
    Evolution was always first as a answer to christian ideas on origins. This is what is historically always been celebrated. Beat the bible.
    This was the earlier and present establishments real motive in promoting/defending evolutionism beyond its actual merits in human insights on the natural world.

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