Home » Darwinism, Evolution, News » Interesting thesis from Princeton prof: Can small life forms evolve randomly?

Interesting thesis from Princeton prof: Can small life forms evolve randomly?

Princeton evolutionary biologist John Bonner has a new book out, Randomness in Evolution, based on his lifetime study of slime moulds. He believes that natural selection does not act in the uniform way that Darwinists typically insist, and recounts his experiences as a heretic among career Darwinists in a recent article in New Scientist (“Rules of evolution go a bit random if you’re small”):

… Natural selection favours random genetic mutations that offer an advantage, therefore many people believe that all properties of an organism are an adaptation. If one cannot find the adaptive reason for a feature of an organism, one should just assume that there was once one, or that there is one that will be revealed in the future.

Hence the dogmatism in the face of contrary evidence.

How can these organisms escape the stranglehold of selection? One explanation grabbed me and I have clung to it ever since; in fact it is the backbone of my new book. The reason that these organisms might have shapes that are not governed by natural selection is because they are so small. …

His thesis is that small forms develop so rapidly into a few simple shapes that their development might simply not give selection time to work its magic. Even that is apparently heretical these days.

Let us now examine the situation for microorganisms. What is the evidence that their shapes are less likely to be culled by natural selection? The best examples come from organisms that make mineral shells: Radiolaria (pictured) and diatoms with their silica skeletons and Foraminifera with their calciferous shells. About 50,000 species of radiolarians have been described, 100,000 species of diatoms and some 270,000 species among the Foraminifera – all with vastly different shapes. For example, radiolarian skeletons can be shaped like spiny balls, bells, crosses and octagonal pyramids, to name but a few.

Bonner argues that a “strict adaptionist” (a true Darwinian) must find a separate explanation of how each shape arose through natural selection. He thinks, by contrast, that they are randomly mutated without selection. And he cites the Master, Darwin, to prove it, then reiterates his faith in natural selection.

It’s too bad, really, that a clever man is so dominated by dead hands and tenured mediocrity.

Darwin’s followers’ believe that natural selection is the way that large, intricate information-rich structures are created, by eliminating unlucky mutations alone. That improbable claim is simply not to be questioned in science. This type of situation is now new; it is much like the dogma that poverty causes crime, which is not to be questioned in social work or that spending more money produces better schools, which is not to be questioned in education. Even those insiders who challenge the dogma end up emitting it accidentally or under pressure.

That all these propositions would require miracles in order to be true does not matter. In the absence of the miracles, their proponents happily settle for quelling dissent, in favour of business as usual.

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One Response to Interesting thesis from Princeton prof: Can small life forms evolve randomly?

  1. OT: Just came across this one:

    Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin

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