The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe — A Preview
|March 28, 2007||Posted by William Dembski under Evolution, Intelligent Design, Darwinism|
Granville Sewell asked me to post this:
“The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe”
A Preview of W.E.Loennig’s Part II
By Granville Sewell
Darwin’s story of how the giraffe got its long neck is perhaps the most popular and widely-told story of evolution. It is popular because it seems plausible: giraffes with slightly longer necks enjoyed a slight selective advantage in reaching the higher leaves of trees, and so over the ages these slight neck elongations accumulated, resulting in the modern giraffe. In fact, I used the giraffe story myself in my Mathematical Intelligencer article (at www.discovery.org/csc) as an example of purely quantitative change, that natural selection possibly could explain, as opposed to the origins of new organs and new systems of organs.
Biologist and geneticist W.E.Loennig has written a detailed, thoroughly-researched study, “The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe”, which shows that almost everything about this popular story is either false or unsubstantiated. In Part I (my English translation is linked from www.discovery.org/csc) Loennig shows that there is no fossil evidence to support the idea of a gradual elongation of the neck from the giraffe’s Okapi-like ancestors, and that the elongation required much more than simple quantitative changes: new features were required, for example, to handle the much higher blood pressure required by the long neck.
Loennig has now completed the second and final part of this detailed study, and I have made a first-draft English translation (actually, his English is better than my German, but I had more time on my hands!). The German version is already available (www.weloennig.de…), the English translation will be linked from www.discovery.org/csc in a few weeks. In Part II, Loennig looks at many other details of this widely-told story and finds them also not supported by the facts. He discusses the alternative of intelligent design, and answers the charge that it is not falsifiable, and in fact concludes:
“…the scientific data that are available to date on the question of the origin of the giraffe make both gradual as well as saltational evolution by mutations and natural selection so extremely improbable that in any other area of life such improbability would strongly motivate us to look for a feasible alternative. For biologists committed to a materialistic world view, however, an alternative is simply not considered. For them, any valid and even the most convincing objections against the synthetic theory of evolution are nothing but open problems that must be solved in the future entirely within the confines of the theory. This is still true even when the trend is clearly running against them, that is, when the problems for the theory become greater and greater with new scientific data. This essential unfalsifiability, by the way, places today’s evolutionary theory outside of science, one of whose defining characteristics is that theories can only be considered scientific if they are falsifiable, and can list clear criteria by which they could potentially be falsified.”
I have found many other mathematicians, engineers and physicists who, like me, find the idea that the struggle for survival could explain everything in the living world to be manifestly preposterous. Yet most are reluctant to criticize this idea openly, because they see entire libraries full of scientific books and journals supporting the idea, and they wonder, is it really possible to write so much in support of an idea that is false? For these people I recommend reading every page of this 100-page work; when they are finished, they will understand that, yes, it is possible.