Home » Intelligent Design » New Evidence Supports Natural Selection

New Evidence Supports Natural Selection

The most tested theory in science – Natural Selection – has new and improved evidence to support it says Pim Van Meurs on Panda’s Thumb.

Excuse me, but haven’t the NeoDarwinian dogmatists been saying for years that Natural Selection is as well tested as the theory of gravity?

Do we hear headlines like New Evidence Supports Theory of Gravity or New Evidence Shows Things Don’t Fall Up? ROFL

Who are these clowns trying to fool? :-)

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

44 Responses to New Evidence Supports Natural Selection

  1. Conflating again. Natural selection as an engine of adaptation has been well-established. This study shows that natural selection is also an engine of reproductive isolation (speciation).

    I note you ignored the findings.

    Wow! And all this time I thought you boys had a handle on speciation. You mean you’ve been bluffing for 150 years about Natural Selection but now you’ve really got the goods? :roll: I don’t want to be fooled again, sir. :x This time you gotta cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your mother’s eye if you’re lying. I’d ask you to swear on a stack of bibles but I know how much that would mean to you… :lol: -ds

  2. lol

    This goes in line with the Project Strawman’s Steve’s mentality. No one put in question that the majority of scientists are Darwinists.

    Similarly, no one put in question that Natural Selection works. The issue is that NS does not work the way Darwinists would hope for.

  3. Um, isn’t the difference that there’s a well-organized campaign to take natural selection out of schools, whereas no such campaign exists for gravity? Surely if half the American people didn’t accept the theory of gravity and teaching “alternatives to gravity” were a large political movement, physicists would be out there defending the theory to the public at every possible point — as they should.

    No, the difference is that gravity actually is a well tested theory. -ds

  4. Mats: Similarly, no one put in question that Natural Selection works.

    Um, blind concession is irrelevant to science. The question is whether natural selection can be shown to drive reproductive isolation, an assertion strongly supported by the study.

    Ecological divergence exhibits consistently positive associations with reproductive isolation across disparate taxa
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/conten.....08653103v1

  5. Mats said:

    “The issue is that NS does not work the way Darwinists would hope for.”

    And that would be what way?

  6. From the article:

    “In the last 20 years, studies of a number of specific species have demonstrated that natural selection can cause sub-populations to adapt to new environments in ways that reduce their ability to interbreed, an essential first step in the formation of a new species.

    I’d like to see this research because it certainly would seem to support NS as the engine for macro-scale species change. Where does the absence of beneficial information gaining mutations play into this? How about Irreducible Complexity on the biochemical level?

  7. Here’s some new evidence supporting Einstein’s theory of gravity (aka general theory of relativity):

    http://www.sci-tech-today.com/.....y_id=40817

    More confirmation that things fall down, not up, even near black holes. Amazing. Who’d have guessed? -ds

  8. I realise this is not quite your main point, but people do still test the predictions of gravity. How about this measurement of frame-dragging from 2004:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3762852.stm

    or this measurement of the `speed of gravity’ from 2003:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2639043.stm

    So I think you certainly can see headlines like `new evidence supports theory of gravity’!

  9. “More confirmation that things fall down, not up, even near black holes. Amazing. Who’d have guessed? -ds”

    I think there is a lot more to testing gravity than just checking it’s an attractive force.

  10. I think Dave’s point centers around hypothetical evidence for Natural Selection producing CSI, which is the foundation of Darwinism. When it comes to Darwinism we’re still searching for basics here, not details. With gravity you can toss a rock for basic evidence. But when it comes to Darwinism you look to what evidence?

  11. Everyone brace yourselves… I’m about to link to an YEC article. [*Please note that the opinions of the site I'm linking do not necessarily represent the opinions of the people of Uncommon Descent]. I just found some of the points in this treatment, compelling:

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....apter4.asp

  12. Patrick, I agree that what you say is the main question asked by IDers.

    However, I thought DS’s point here was slightly different. In particular, I thought he was saying that producing new evidence in support of a theory necessarily contradicts the assertion that the theory is already `well-tested’.

    That’s what my gravitational examples were supposed to refute, anyway.

  13. physicist, I hear what you are saying and I think you are correct when it comes to Gravity. However, in the case of NS, I think we have been fed people’s assumptions as “fact” for many years, in the absense of something which is actually “well tested”.

  14. Scott,

    That is a debate to be had, and I agree is the central motivation (as I understand it) for ID.

    I was just responding here to an inaccurate description (and an inaccurate example) of the way theory and experiment work.

  15. in other words, you may well argue that NS is not well-tested.

    But the fact that a biologist claims NS is well-tested AND also claims to produce new evidence for a particular prediction of NS is *not* a priori contradictory.

  16. I’d say Natural Selection itself is well-tested but its proposed ability to produce CSI is not. The second issue is what ID proponents are focused on and this argument is more based on faulty communication that anything else…but that doesn’t take away from the not-so-clearly-made point.

  17. Right, we can somewhat confidently assert that NS is responsible for trivial adaptive changes (Finch beaks, etc…) within a species, but I’m still struggling to see new their “evidence” of it working in harmony with beneficial mutations in isolated populations and thus leading to novel species.

  18. Well, perhaps DS should answer whether I was misunderstanding the point he was making. Do you really think I was? It certainly sounds like he thinks people don’t experimentally test gravity because it’s already a `well-tested’ theory. Hopefully my examples above are helpful, anyway!

    Of course, arguing that NS can’t produce CSI is what people debate here all the time, but I thought this posting in particular was making a slightly different point.

    Let me know when Natural Selection is so well tested that the remainder of the testing of it is confined to testing its predictions beyond the 15th place to the right of the decimal point in the extremes of very small and very large. The theory of gravity can predict practical things with such certainly and precision that it’s simply ridiculous to compare it to natural selection which can’t predict anything at all about future evolution. All NS is good for is a mechanism to explain observations of one-time events that already happened and can’t be repeated. Does that sound anything like the theory of gravity to you? If NS was a theory of planetary motions it would still be epicycles and its predictions astrological forecasts. -ds

  19. Patrick, I understand that the argument I’ve paraphrased in #15 is far from the main thrust of ID. But, I think that that argument (and the faulty example of gravity) was worth clearing up, anyway.

  20. DaveScot — YOU NEED TO READ THE ABSTRACT. YOU ARE GIVING THE DARWINISTS WAY TOO MUCH CREDIT.

    Sorry for shouting, but the funny thing is that, at least according to the abstract, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the article remotely resembling natural selection. This is _only adaptation_. It doesn’t specify the _mechanism_ of adaptation. It is _assumed_ to be natural selection. This is yet another instance of Darwinist bluffing. All they have shown is that in different ecological environments, species change to adapt to their environments. What they have not shown is that the mechanism behind this is RM + NS or even just NS.

    I gave them credit? I hate when I do that. Not to make excuses but I am trying to quit. -ds

  21. physicist wrote:
    “I realise this is not quite your main point, but people do still test the predictions of gravity. How about this measurement of frame-dragging from 2004…or this measurement of the `speed of gravity’ from 2003… So I think you certainly can see headlines like `new evidence supports theory of gravity’!”

    Not to mention the launch in 2004 of a $700 million satellite (Gravity Probe B):

    http://einstein.stanford.edu/

  22. Mercy! Give me the 700 Million and I’ll probe yer gravity. I gots lots o rocks n such I could use.

  23. Fortunately, not all gravitational (or other physics) experiments are so expensive!

    Of course, some important experiments (e.g. the LHC) *are* very expensive…and the issue of how much the public are willing to spend on fundamental science is definitely an interesting (but off-topic!) debate.

  24. Scott, I don’t reckon you’ll get any further than newtonian gravity with your rocks :)

  25. Hey, nobody knock the Gravity Probe-B project. It’s an amazing piece of engineering.

  26. Wait, wait! NS is good at predicting things. Like extinction, loss of function, etc.

  27. Okay. So I should have read all of the comments first. :oops:

    Valerie, good to see we had the same thought.

  28. “It’s what scientists do. They test theories. Even theories they think they understand…

    Of course, no one’s screaming that gravity is a farce or a joke. Maybe you should? Just for consistancy’s sake?”

    Now that you guys have had your fun with the strawman can you focus on the real issue at hand?

  29. “Excuse me, but haven’t the NeoDarwinian dogmatists been saying for years that Natural Selection is as well tested as the theory of gravity?”

    Why is scientific research greeted with such hoots of derision? The fact that this research is going on seems to show that the theory of evolution, as the best explanation for the diversity of life, is never “off the hook.” Far from being a dogma, it is ever being scrutinized in the light of new research.

    It’s a safe bet to say that germ theory will be studied until the end of the age!

    Are there any research programs in the works for ID theory?

    btw, falling objects just show the EFFECT of gravity. Gravity continues to be studied, as has been ably pointed out by others here. It was a cover story just last year in Scientific American.

  30. “Are there any research programs in the works for ID theory?”

    Any functional (as opposed to historical) approach to genetics is an ID research program.

    The small but growing field of dynamical genetics is explicitly ID.

    Any study of mind and its relationship to causation is ID.

    Any study of creativity is ID.

    Dembski’s studies of probability and intelligent causation is ID.

    Any study of forensic methods of determining intentional causation is ID.

    Also note that what the article claims is that the new evidence is that speciation can occur because of natural selection (nevermind that natural selection is assumed, not demonstrated, in the paper itself). So it is now news that there is evidence that natural selection can account for _micro_ evolution. This is completely different than the gravity example. In the gravity examples, it is talking about searching for unknown and edge cases of gravity. In this article, they are talking about finally having experimental evidence for the _simplest_ case of evolution, which even many creationists had previously thought to be already proven! They didn’t show natural selection to be responsible for mesa- or macro- evolution, only that it might be responsible for micro-evolution. And all this from a theory that is supposed to be the fundamental fact of science, and to be as proven as the fact that the earth is round.

    In fact, the evidence is the other way ’round. There is a smittering of possibility that RM+NS might be responsible for micro-evolution, and none whatsoever that it could cause fundamental changes. In fact, I take the recent Davidson paper as empirical evidence that micro- and macro-evolution, if they exist at all, are fundamentally different processes (I take it to be that they were individual designs).

  31. In fact gravity remains an intense area of interest. We’ve seen a few examples but take a look at how much work is done in this regard. To see how intensily studied it is i tried to look up ‘gravit’ (so i can net gravity and gravitational etc) at Physical review letters and a few other journals just from the Americal Physical Society. It returned “Your search returned 4922 hits, only 300 have been displayed.” And in the last 10 years there are 66 papers just in these few journals (which very much do not specialize in gravity). Additionally, by searching the astro physics preprint server (http://xxx.lanl.gov/archive/astro-ph) i find about 250 articles in the last 10 years (of course these are not necessarily published).

    Wether or not people spin it to the general populace as suddenly gravity is confirmed every year is a public relations and political point. Gravity reamins a very robust area of inquiry just like evolution. It is the political climate that is different.

  32. johnny b,

    “Any functional (as opposed to historical) approach to genetics is an ID research program.”
    I don’t get it. If a geneticist shows that genotype A survives better in environment 1 and genotype B better in environment 2, then she is engaged in an ID research program?

    “Any study of mind and its relationship to causation is ID.”
    So now psychology is also an ID research program?

    I read the abstract of the recent Davidson paper you refer to. Why is that paper evidence that micro- and macro-evolution (assuming they exist) are fundamentally different?

    Please enlighten me.

    BTW, did you really read the PNAS paper this thread is about? You say “they are talking about finally having experimental evidence…”, but the paper is nothing but a correlational analysis of previously published observational data. No experiments. Perhaps we have different definitions of experiment.

  33. “If a geneticist shows that genotype A survives better in environment 1 and genotype B better in environment 2, then she is engaged in an ID research program?”

    A functionalist approach is one that assumes function as a starting assumption of research. For example, see this paper on genome function. They criticize the “selfish gene” concept, and view biology from a systems perspective, and view the operation of the cell holistically as a system architecture. This is similar to the claims made by Jonathan Wells on centrioles generating a polar ejection force.

    A lay version of this can be seen in an article by the author of the former paper: A Third Way.

    “So now psychology is also an ID research program?”

    If it views mind as distinct from (but subject to) physical causation, then yes. (note that not all psychology does this).

    “Why is that paper evidence that micro- and macro-evolution (assuming they exist) are fundamentally different?”

    The core systems of an architecture appear to be invariable. Therefore, the changes occurring today are not the same changes that brought about the core systems, since the core systems are not changing today, and have not changed for the supposed millions of years that they have been in place. Therefore, macro-level evolution is fundamentally different than what we observe today.

    Another analysis of the same subject can be found in Malcom Gordon’s The Concept of Monophyly (I have a short summary and quote here if you don’t have access to the article).

  34. Here’s a clip showing another experiment testing gravity. It hasn’t seen anything yet, but at the moment it is setting upper limits on some very fundamental aspects of gravity.

  35. “With gravity you can toss a rock for basic evidence.” So that’s all there is to gravity?

  36. “Let me know when Natural Selection is so well tested that the remainder of the testing of it is confined to testing its predictions beyond the 15th place to the right of the decimal point in the extremes of very small and very large. The theory of gravity can predict practical things with such certainly and precision that it’s simply ridiculous to compare it to natural selection which can’t predict anything at all about future evolution. All NS is good for is a mechanism to explain observations of one-time events that already happened and can’t be repeated. Does that sound anything like the theory of gravity to you? If NS was a theory of planetary motions it would still be epicycles and its predictions astrological forecasts. -ds”

    Davescot

    I wasn’t arguing here that Natural selection is as well-tested as gravity. You are missing my point if you think that I was.

    I was pointing out that even very well-tested theories (taking your example of gravity—it was you who initiated the comparison, not me) continue to be tested further. Sometimes these new tests produce further evidence for the original theory, sometimes they tell you that the original theory is wrong and you need something new.

    So my point was that new evidence for NS doesn’t a priori mean that NS *can’t* have been well-tested in the first place. This seemed to be what you meant by:

    “Do we hear headlines like New Evidence Supports Theory of Gravity? ROFL”

    Of course you may argue that NS is not at all well-tested as a means of producing CSI, and there isn’t enough evidence for it to be convincing. Of course, this is the main thrust of ID. But as I tried to point out above, that wasn’t what I was disputing in this thread (though I may do elsewhere). I hope that is clear now, it seems to be to most other contributors! :)

  37. You’d think that with all these ID research programs there’d be at least one paper in a peer reviewed journal

    There is and the editor that allowed, Richard Sternberg, it was persecuted for it by the defenders of the Darwinian faith. Is that how science works – when a peer reviewed article is published that goes against dogmatically held belief in NeoDarwinian evolution the editor who allowed the heresy to be published is blackballed? Speak right up and tell us if that’s how science works. -ds

  38. Physicist: “even very well-tested theories continue to be tested further.” and “I hope that is clear now, it seems to be to most other contributors!”

    We know. I very much doubt that DS or any other ID proponent was attempting to argue this point. I’m not sure why you and all the other ID critics seized on this point. That’s why I said this earlier:

    “Now that you guys have had your fun with the strawman can you focus on the real issue at hand?”

    And that real issue is this:

    “NS is not at all well-tested as a means of producing CSI, and there isn’t enough evidence for it to be convincing”

    Kural: ““With gravity you can toss a rock for basic evidence.” So that’s all there is to gravity?”

    Of course not. The point is that BASIC evidence can be readily found in one case and not in the other. It’s a contrast. And if you can provide evidence of NS producing CSI go ahead.

    All: Speaking of testing theories, I would not be surprised if ID theory has some flaws or that it’s possible more methods can be added to the toolset. As such, I was fairly disappointed when my Devil’s Advocate thread received no response since the only way to find flaws is to critically analyze ID.

    Actually my point is that you can toss a rock and the theory of gravity will tell you where it will be at any point in time with exquisitely high reliability and precision. If NeoDarwinian evolution is proceeding, which is debatable but that’s a different debate, then humans are like a projectile along an evolutionary path. Where does NDE predict human evolution will be at any point in time in the future? [sound of crickets chirping] NDE describes an unpredictable, unrepeatable process that happened in the past and, because its grand claims of creating novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans happen so slowly as to be unobservable in non-geological timespans, we can’t confirm that it is even happening today. Gravity is predictable and the predictions have been tested zillions of times to a very high degree of precision. Comparing NDE theory and gravity is simply ludicrous and causes one to seriously question the critical thinking ability of anyone that tries to make an equitable comparison. -ds

  39. “You’d think that with all these ID research programs there’d be at least one paper in a peer reviewed journal”

    There are many. They just don’t use the _term_ Intelligent Design. I have a small list of some of them that I have read on my website. There are several others.

  40. Well, Dave, perhaps you should make your points more clear in the future so we don’t waste more time arguing over a non-issue like whether or not “even very well-tested theories continue to be tested further.”

  41. I have two comments. The first is that equating “natural selection” with “gravity” is erroneous. The theories to be equated are “evolution” and “gravity”. That said, “natural selection” is a mechanism by which evolution operates. It continues to be tested. So the question now is, what is the proposed mechanism by which gravity operates and is it more or less understood than mechanisms evolution? No matter how much we test gravity, things still fall up; and no matter how much we test evolution, organisms are still modified over time.

    The second comment is about the predictive power of gravity vs. evolution. Gravity is a simple, mathematical and physical theory whereas evolution is a complex, biological and historical one. Their predicitive powers cannot be compared and contrasted on the same quantitative scale; to attempt to do so is nothing but a set-up. At the same time, the theory of gravity doesn’t accurately predict anything if you don’t know all the other conditions surrounding the system; that is, if something as simple as friction weren’t taken into account, the theory of gravity would not accurately predict where the rock will be. Nor does it account for wind, etc. Conversely if you know every single factor contributing to evolution precisely and accurate, you would be able to predict the evolution of the next species.

    To the first point – pretty much everything is modified over time. That isn’t the issue. The issue is in the case of living things whether random modifications can by any unintelligent means cause the creation of new cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. Organisms really don’t appear to be modified much over time either. The fossil record shows new forms appearing rather quickly and staying pretty much the same before becoming extinct. The modification is abrupt and extensive – genuine evolution appears to proceed through saltation.

    The second point is just wrong. The theory of gravity predicts the behavior of objects (in the absence of other forces) with a high degree of precision. The NeoDarwinian theory of evolution can’t predict the path of evolution with any precision at all. It is a just-so narrative that describes an unpredictable, unrepeatable history of evolution. And it doesn’t even match up well with the fossil record. -ds

  42. Hi Patrick

    “Now that you guys have had your fun with the strawman can you focus on the real issue at hand?”

    Of course, the `real issue’ is what we discuss on the majority of threads. I think it’s fair for me to criticise a slightly different point made in this posting—it looked to me like DS genuinely thought there was no testing left for gravity. Hence his `ROFL’ at the idea of it. And not every thread has to be about the same thing :)

    “Well, Dave, perhaps you should make your points more clear in the future”

    Agreed!

    “Comparing NDE theory and gravity is simply ludicrous and causes one to seriously question the critical thinking ability of anyone that tries to make an equitable comparison”

    I don’t think anyone in this thread said or implied they were equally well-tested. (As an aside, gravity is probably not even the best example as e.g. QED is tested to much higher precision, but that’s another story. I wouldn’t describe our knowledge of Newton’s constant as `exquisitely precise’!)

  43. Yeah, reading Dave’s posts again I suppose I can see how you could perceive Dave was saying that. I just assumed Dave couldn’t actually be saying something that dumb. :)

  44. johnnyb said

    “There are many. They just don’t use the term Intelligent Design. I have a small list of some of them that I have read on my website. There are several others.”

    Just had a quick look at the first abstract listed (im terminally short on time) the title asks the question

    “Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life”

    As a challenge to natural selection this is an invalid argument, because it is abiogenesis that concerns itslef with where life comes from not Evolution/natural selection.

    Many who know of Evolution have no problem with the fact that god came down on a magic cloud and created the first life then guided its rise (or fall) to mankind and the diversity around us. (I think thats the pope’s official view?)

    But the brutal fact remains that you cant prove this as it involves supernatural cause. What we can say is that this environmental factor X is likely why this organism evolved to do Y.

Leave a Reply