Natural Selection: The Achilles Heel of Darwinism

Prof. John Davison

August, 2011

The words "Darwinism" and "Natural Selection" have come to be virtually synonymous. I will show in this essay that Natural Selection (NS) not only had nothing to do with evolutionary change, but served to prevent change for as long as possible, its role today as always in the past. How such a fundamental misunderstanding ever managed to take place requires an explanation which is the purpose of this essay.

After Darwin returned from the nearly five years he had been naturalist on board the H.M.S. Beagle, he settled in 1842 in what was to become his home for the rest of his life. Down House (note the absence of the terminal e) is located in the village of Downe in the London Borough of Bromley near the southern border of greater London. Darwin never left England again and it was there at Down House that he developed his notion of Natural Selection as the engine for organic change. His home is now a museum and tourist attraction where devoted disciples visit to pay homage to the man who more than anyone else removed God from the evolutionary equation. So taken is Laurence A. "larry" Moran with Darwinism that he named his blog "Sand Walk" after the path that Darwin frequented as he reviewed his evolutionary fantasies.

A Creator (or creators) were no longer necessary as evolution could now be explained as an auto-catalytic process fueled only by the accumulation of small changes selected for or against by Nature, the sole judge of what will or will not survive to produce the changes that we know have taken place over the millennia in which species have come and gone in the history of life on this planet.

For 17 years Darwin pondered what he had observed on the voyage of the research vessel H.M.S. Beagle and it was there in and around Down House that the notion of NS finally fully crystallized; yet he still hesitated to publish his explanation. An interesting question arises. Why did he wait so long?
Of course we can only speculate but it is generally agreed that what prompted publication was the fact that Alfred Russel Wallace had reached a similar if not exact explanation for organic change – Natural Selection.

Scientists live in mortal fear of being "scooped" and when such a prospect looms, they tend to react promptly. Wallace had sent his ideas in the form of a letter to the Linnaean society and so it was arranged that his letter and Darwin's would be read simultaneously as part of the Proceedings of the Linnaean Society. The letters which had already been received were each read in a meeting of the Society which took place on July 1, 1858.

Darwin reacted quickly, assembling his materials in the form of what he described as an "Abstract" and his book was published on November 24th, 1859 under the imposing title -

"On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."

That title leaves little to the imagination as Darwin has clearly stated that NS is the cause of organic evolution.

Having summarized its history, we are now prepared to demonstrate that there is not a word of truth in Darwin's book and that the sole role of NS has been misunderstood from 1859 to the present day.

Before we begin it is important to review briefly the role Alfred Russel Wallace played in this unfolding drama. While Darwin spent the rest of his life in England, Wallace was becoming the greatest and most widely traveled naturalist of the 19th century. Wallace soon modified his earlier proposal at first gradually and finally completely as exhibited by the title of his last book -

"The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose."
London, Chapman and Hall, Limited, 1911. Wallace died in 1913 in his 90th year.

It is no wonder that the Darwinians ignore the metamorphosis of the co-author of natural selection, the sine qua non of the Darwinian paradigm.

A scientific hypothesis is only as good as it can be verified by experiment or direct observation. The theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman reminded us that -

"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is. It doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong."

Sensu strictu Natural Selection has never reached the status of theory as theories are verified hypotheses, a status NS has never reached. The gradual change required by the Darwinian thesis has never been observed nor has it ever been verified by controlled experiment.

The key word is gradual. Gradual changes require long periods of time to be observable and this has been the argument the Darwinians use to support the NS concept. Related to this is their insistence that evolution is still going on. Everything the Darwinian sees is through the lens of a continuing evolutionary process of adjustment to a changing environment. There is no question that such changes can occur. For example, insects can become resistant to insecticides, microbes to antibiotics and many organisms can become tolerant to changes of temperatures and toxic conditions, etc, etc. But do these adaptations represent evolutionary changes? As far as can be determined, they do not, because when the challenging factor is removed, the organisms return to their prior state. The key element that distinguishes evolution from adaptation is the irreversibility of organic evolution. Any change which can be reversed is not an evolutionary change. No mammal has ever evolved into a reptile, no reptile into an amphibian and no amphibian into a fish yet we know with certainty that sequence in reverse is the path through which evolution has actually taken place.

The paleontologist Otto Schindewolf was adamant about the notion of an experimental evolution.

"Many authors have spoken of experimental evolution; There is no such thing. Evolution, a unique, historical course of events that took place in the oast, is not repeatable experimentally and cannot be investigated in that way."
Basic Questions in Paleontology, page 311. (Schindewolf's italics).

As an experimental scientist, I was at first shocked at Schindewolf's position but have since come to believe that it best represents the historical facts. The reaction by the Darwinians has been, aside from rarely mentioning Schindewolf at all, to dismiss his evolutionary conclusions as "spectacularly flawed." Those are the words Stephen Jay Gould used when he wrote the Foreword to Schindewolf's 1993 English translation – "Basic Questions in Paleontology," (page xi) – originally published in German in 1950 as "Grundfragen der Palaontologie." Forty three years after its publication and 22 years after Schindewolf's death, Stephen Jay Gould decided to dismiss Schindewolf's evolutionary science by describing it as "spectacularly flawed." I have never forgiven Gould for this shabby treatment of the greatest paleontologist since Cuvier. We can be certain that Gould would never have dared use those words when Schindewolf was still alive.

It is characteristic of the Darwinians to ignore their critics while alive and then to dismiss them once they can no longer respond by claiming that we know much more now than we did then. Those many critics of the Darwinian model constitute a veritable honor roll of the most distinguished biologists of the post Darwinian era – William Bateson, Reginald C. Punnett, Leo S. Berg, Robert Broom, Pierre Grasse, Richard B. Goldschmidt and many others, not one a religious or atheist zealot. Nothing has changed since St. George Mivart, in his 1873 book – "On the Genesis of Species" – described NS as "incompetent" because it cannot explain the appearance of new structures – "THE INCOMPETENCY OF 'NATURAL SELECTION' TO ACCOUNT FOR THE INCIPIENT STAGES OF USEFUL STRUCTURES." – The title of MIvart's Chapter II, page 35.

While many had questioned NS it was not until 1922 that it was finally best described for what it actually has always done and still does.

In his remarkable book "Nomogenesis or Evolution Determined by Law," Leo Berg characterized NS as follows -

"The struggle for existence and natural selection are not progressive agencies, but being, on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard."
page 406.

While many others had questioned NS before him, Berg unambiguously and vigorously stated what, in his opinion, NS actually does, a position which I believe best represents the testimony both of the fossil record and what we see operating with the present biota. With his carefully crafted sentence, Leo Berg struck a death blow to Darwinism by turning the role of Natural Selection upside down, rendering it useless as an explanatory thesis and at the same time explaining its primary role which has always been the same – to delay evolutionary progress for as long as possible, a strategy which, with very few exceptions, has terminated with extinction.

But has Berg’s revolutionary thesis been recognized by the Darwinians? The answer is an unqualified NO! Stephen Jay Gould in his ponderous “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” made no mention of Leo Berg in the text and didn’t list Nomogenesis in his Bibliography. Ernst Mayr whose office was down the hall from Gould’s (at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology) also made no mention of Berg in the text of his “The Growth of Biological Thought,” but added insult to injury by listing “Nomogenesis” in his Bibliography. Thus Mayr openly dismissed Berg’s science as of no consequence. Accordingly, the two most prominent spokespersons for the Darwinian paradigm revealed themselves to be scientific bigots, unfit to wear the mantle of scientist by allowing their congenital atheism to destroy the one feature that has always characterized the true scientist, the willingness to abandon a failed hypothesis when that becomes necessary. Rather than confront their many critics, the Darwinians continue a tradition that began a century and a half ago. when they failed to respond to St. George Mivart’s accurate description of NS as “incompetent.” Leo Berg was the greatest Russian biologist of his generation and, in my opinion, the most insightful evolutionist of all time. His book “Nomogenesis or Evolution Determined by Law” remains a treasure trove of evolutionary science unexcelled as a source of real evolutionary science free of the trappings of ideology, prejudice and bigotry. Everything we have learned in the eighty-nine years since its publication fully vindicates the words with which Berg described the closely related mysteries of ontogeny and phylogeny -

“Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
Nomogenesis, page 134

“It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it to be true.”
Bertrand Russell

By accepting Berg’s position, the Linnaean taxonomic system receives powerful support. Linnaean taxonomy depends heavily on the apparent immutability of species, a feature which allows even the amateur to correctly identify any organism he is likely to encounter. Taxonomic keys proceed on the basis of alternate choices which lead in relatively few steps to the unambiguous identification of the organism sought. The vast majority of organisms in their natural state exhibit very little variation, and those that do are easily identified as to species as, for example, white tigers. Furthermore, the genetic basis for such rare mutants obviously has little if any adaptive advantage in any event. The lowly chickadee, so common in the Northeast provides an ideal example. Every chickadee not only looks rather exactly like every other chicadee, but they all sound alike as well – chickadee-dee-dee, chickadee-dee-dee. Apparently only the chickadees recognize the opposite sex! These observations are in perfect accord with Berg’s insistence that natural selection and the struggle for existence “maintain the standard.”

Indeed, from what we know with certainty, there is little reason to assume that even speciation is still in progress. I have repeatedly challenged the Darwinians to present an example of a new verified species and the species known to be its immediate ancestor. Such examples have not been forthcoming, leading me to postulate, with Robert Broom and Julian Huxley, that creative organic evolution is no longer in progress. What we see are the products of a past evolution, not examples of evolution in progress as the Darwinian model demands. One of the most remarkable contradictions in the evolution literature is the way that the Darwinian faithful have ignored a conclusion drawn by one of their own, Julian Huxley, the man who coined the term “modern synthesis” which became the title of his book “Evolution: The Modern Synthesis,” otherwise a thoroughly Darwinian interpretation of evolutionary phenomena.

Oblivious to the science of their critics, both those within and without the Darwinian camp, the faithful continue their allegiance to the fundamentals as laid out by their founder – Charles Robert Darwin. I can only conclude that we have witnessed and continue to witness the conquest of a blind, atheist inspired ideology over reason on a scale hitherto unknown in experimental and descriptive science.

Based on what we have presented here we are now prepared to offer our interpretation of the findings from the experimental laboratory and the fossil record as follows -

1. Chance and natural selection have played no role in the ascending sequence which the fossil record so clearly represents.

2. The sole role of natural selection has been limited to small reversible transformations none of which lead to new species. However, the accumulation of deleterious genes may play a role in extinction.

3. No evolutionary changes have ever been gradual which is how it is possible to identify every organism, living or fossil, with certainty using simple binary keys.

4. There is every reason to believe that creative organic evolution is a phenomenon of the distant past and is no longer taking place. Thus, it follows that the current biota is a terminus, a climax of what must have been a planned sequence in which chance has played at best a trivial role.

5.Both phylogenesis (evolution) and extinction have been planned. Without a planned extinction, evolution could never have taken place.

That is our position and so it will remain until it is demonstrated to be without merit, an eventuality I do not anticipate.

“Science commits suicide when she adopts a creed."

Julian Huxley