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Evolution now more firmly established than gravity

Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection, which was already as well established as the theory of gravity, has taken a big leap forward. According to the New Scientist (see Dave Scot’s post earlier today), E.Coli bacteria have evolved the ability to digest citrate, after only
44,000 generations. “It’s the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait,” says New Scientist reporter Bob Holmes. Biologists have known for a long time that the same mechanism that induces drug resistance in bacteria is responsible for the evolution of human brains and human consciousness, but this new experiment is spectacular confirmation of this theory.

Now that evolution through natural selection is more firmly established than the theory of gravity, physicists are left in catch-up mode. “We are in the planning stages of a new experiment to try to catch gravity in the act,” said one MIT physicist who declined to be identified. “We are going to drop a ball off of a specially constructed tower, and will have lots of
photographic equipment ready to document what happens. If we can get pictures of the ball moving toward the Earth, we will again be able to claim that gravity is as well established as Darwinian evolution.”

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10 Responses to Evolution now more firmly established than gravity

  1. “It’s the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait,” says New Scientist reporter Bob Holmes.

    Ah, so New Scientist admits that evolution has never had observable evidence before.

  2. Wouldn’t that be something?
    I’ll be interested in those pictures and I just hope to goodness they won’t be photo-shopped.

  3. At last! So physicists are abandoning their old irritating “just so stories” about bodies falling, and trying to get some evidence! It’s never too late. Good thing that they had the wonderful example of their fellow scientists, the biologists, who showed them the right path.

    I hope mathematicians may follow too, and we can soon have photos of Pitagora’s theorem caught “in the act”…

  4. 4
    PannenbergOmega

    Okay. If Darwinian evolution is a conservative force, how is it acting as a creative force in this instance?

    Could you someone explain this to me?

  5. 5
    PannenbergOmega

    Was this new and complex trait somehow there to begin with in this bacteria?

  6. 6
    Granville Sewell

    PannenbergOmega,

    As Dave Scot pointed out, Michael Behe addresses the Lenski experiment in The Edge of Evolution (p140-2) and concludes “nothing fundamentally new has been produced.” The New Scientist article claims it has produced an increase in complexity. I am not a biologist so I can’t evaluate this claim, my point is that the New Scientist admits that this is the “first” time natural selection has ever been observed to produce such an increase in complexity. This is an astonishing admission: a theory that claims to explain all of biology, and is promoted as being as certain as the law of gravity, has (at least until June 2008) never been observed to have produced a significant increase in complexity!

    Such an extrapolation, with such confidence, would be the laughingstock of science if it were made in ANY other scientific field; but the rules are very different for scientists studying evolution.

  7. As it is such an important issue, I hope resources will be promptly allocated to characterize the exact mutation, both at DNA level and functionally. That would allow some serious analysis. Until then, we are reasoning about a bunch of assumptions.

    Which, anyway, did not stop the New Scientist from rejoicing in the triumph of evolutionary theory. But, as this is the first case that evolution is “caught in the act”, if when we understand better the context there is no “act” left, then will the New Scientist admit that evolution has never been caught in the act?

  8. 8
    PannenbergOmega

    Thank you, Professor Sewell.

  9. Thanks for the delightful post. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the gravity “experiment,” which is so blatantly obvious to every sane individual, against the decades-old effort by thousands of dedicated professionals to catch a glimpse of one, please at least one, meaningful evolutionary event.

  10. Granville

    It’s always a pleasure to read your writings. Love your sense of humor. Professors like you are the best. Even if the subject matter is somniferous it’s impossible to nod off while laughing. Many thanks. :lol:

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