Except When It Doesn't

2021 Dec 1

According to Dobzhansky, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” note This means evidence from biology always backs (Darwinian) evolution - except when it doesn’t...



The context here is not micro evolution which is basic biological change through time. Micro evolution certainly and observably occurs. The context is Darwinian evolution which is macro evolution, or species common ancestry.


1: Evolution always happens gradually- except when it doesn’t:


2: Common features in species indicate common ancestry - except when it doesn’t:

  • Convergent evolution (parallel evolutionary development of a feature) is very common: e.g.
    • whale vs bat echolocation (same design, different ancestors)
    • flying squirrels vs sugar gliders (look the same, but different genetics)
    • camera-type eye in octopus and humans (no shared ancestor with this eye, any ancestor likely had no eye at all)
  • lineage-specific ORF "orphan" genes performing similar functions by unique mechanisms in related species (wikipedia)


3: Evolution occurs randomly and without respect for need - except when it doesn’t:


4: The evolutionary tree of life is confirmed by the fossil record - except that it isn’t:

  • Fossils only record organism structures.
    • They do not indicate ancestor relationships.
    • Lineage relationships are assumed from appearance similarities and strata locations.


5: The evolutionary tree of life is confirmed by genetic relationship studies - except when it isn’t:

  • A group of yeasts could not be assembled into a genetic inheritance tree from their genetic data. There was clearly no common genetic relatedness pattern.
  • Taxonomy trees developed both from morphology (the study of forms - like from fossils) and from genetic relatedness also consistently diverge instead of converging.


6: Taxonomically similar species have similar genetics - except when they don’t:

  • Lineage-specific ORF "orphan" genes are seen everywhere. The orphan genes are very unique, questioning whether the "similar" species are related by common descent. (article)


7: Evolution has the creative power to produce the diversity of life as we see it - except that it doesn’t:

  • Mutations are overwhelmingly destructive instead of constructive. Because of this, natural selection at best explains the survival of the species, but not the arrival of the species.
  • This problem is acknowledged by the existence of the recent Extended Evolutionary Synthesis effort because the standard Modern Synthesis is insufficient even to many evolutionists.
  • The whole of the universe has not had enough probabilistic resources since the Big Bang to find even two coordinated proteins, much, much less the vast number needed for a full biosphere. (See The Probability of Life)


8: Evolution develops life from the more simple species to the more complex - except that it doesn’t:

  • The technical claim is that evolution does not change the average complexity of life.
    • The claim is made this way to avoid teleology (purpose) in evolution.
    • However, that is not what is clearly taught in textbooks or what is illustrated by phylogenetic tree of life diagrams.
  • If average complexity were staying the same, we would see some organisms becoming more simple to balance those that were becoming more complex. But, we don't see evidence of that.
    • Gene knock-out experiments of simple organisms make them less fit in general environments. With enough genetic knock-out, they always become non-viable.
    • There is a baseline of complexity, therefore the technical claim is false.


9: Due to the creativeness of natural selection, evolution has produced more complex species from more simple species - except that natural selection hasn’t:

  • Natural selection itself has zero creativity. It creates nothing. At best, natural selection is a sorting effect that is applied to mutations.


10: Natural selection retains only the organisms with the most fitness - except when it doesn’t:

  • Natural selection supposedly retains even very slight advantages from individual mutations. However it is only a weak sorting effect.
    • As a selection system, it was not sensitive enough to shed the costly baggage of "junk DNA" and "vestigial organs".


11: Evolution carries significant baggage of dis-utility that comes from its random meandering path - except "dis-utility" often disappears with more study:

  • Examples
    • Important function is now known for the appendix (for storage of important gut bacteria) like as for many other organs which used to be called "vestigial".
    • "Leg" bones in whales were assumed to be useless vestiges of evolution from land animals. However we now know that they are critical for whale reproduction.


12: Evolution made optimized designs - except when it made junk; or vis versa:

  • The theory predicts both junk and optimized systems by the same mechanism, therefore it predicts nothing.
  • Junk DNA: When we had more limited understanding of DNA, it was assumed due to evolution that sections that did not code for proteins were junk DNA. Then as we learned more we found utility for most of those sections, especially that they were functioning as control and regulatory systems.
  • Human eyes: Our eyes have their nerve wiring on the retinal surface. Supposedly this is evidence of a poor design because light must pass through this layer. However, human eyes are able to detect single photons; it is not physically possible to do better than this. Now studies indicate the design is part of the reason for the exceptional performance of the eye.


13: Evolution has sufficient time to occur - except it doesn’t:

  • In the Cambrian explosion, most major animal body plans appeared with no antecedents in the space of about 10 million years.
    • This time frame is exceedingly short; it is completely insufficient time for the necessary evolutionary development to happen. note
    • Population genetics has shown that for one neutral mutation to spread through the whole population takes 4N generations on average (where N is the population size).
      • For some animal population with a reasonable generation of 5 years, and minimal viable population of 10,000, then a single mutation will take approximately 0.2 million years to become fixed. For any population that is larger, it will take proportionately longer.
      • A neutral mutation has a 50% chance of remaining. We can account for this probability by doubling the time. So now the single fixed neutral mutation takes about half a million years to happen. Just one mutation consumes a noticeable percentage of the total time budget for introduction of the new animal.
      • Most mutations are deleterious, so a mutation rate that is too high will be fatal. Therefore an animal changing into some new body plan could not have too many mutations each generation.
      • In order to develop into a new body plan many coordinated changes actually would be needed in the genes. However, that is a different kind of calculation, so we will pretend that species with new body plans come from neutral mutations.
    • The evolutionary explanation for how animal viability is maintained across body plan changes is that some master gene (such as the HOX gene) switches off or on other existing genes.
      • However, switching off a gene is not addition of a new body plan. It is not addition of new information as would be needed to specify/define the new body. Disabling something is unlikely to add general advantage to the organism (giving it greater overall fitness), otherwise that is what would have happened already.
      • Switching on some new gene begs the question of the origin of the new gene. There had to have been some evolutionary advantage to the switchable new gene so that evolution could have selected for it. But if it has been switched off, it would have been providing no evolutionary advantage, therefore it would never come to exist to be switchable.
    • Mutations are either deleterious, neutral or beneficial.
      • The overwhelming majority of mutations are deleterious. (The primary function of natural selection is to remove these from the population.)
      • Beneficial mutations are rare and in many cases must be coordinated together to have an effect. This usually makes them rare beyond useful.
      • Neutral mutations have no reason to be conserved, so conserved neutral mutations also become very rare.
      • Mutations therefore are an insufficient source of change for new body plans.
  • Simple calculations can show that there is insufficient time since the Big Bang for even just two coordinated proteins to have evolved anywhere in the universe. Full biosphere evolution is exponentially more impossible.


14: Small adaptive changes can add up to changes that produce new body plans - except that they can’t:

  • The control networks in embryology allow no modifications without death. However, body plans are implemented only during embryo development. Because of this, changes in embryos are always prevented, therefore new body plans are also prevented.


15: The evolutionary mechanisms have continuously been in effect since the beginning of life - except the evidence disagrees:

  • From this article, "There are many examples of fossil species pairs with very different body plans that diverged within a [very short] window of time of 5 (±5) million years." However, now "there exist no living species pairs with even remotely similar differences in body plan that are dated to have diverged in a similar time frame."
  • Evolution is claimed to be the explanation for all species, including widely diverging kinds. And from paleontology, "windows of time of only 5-10 million years account for most of the abrupt appearances of new body plans".
  • If evolution is a functioning or viable process, then evidence for it should not be limited to the fossil record. If evolution is what it is claimed to be, "There is no evolutionary reason why the creative power of this process should have been active over all of Earth history but then ceased to function within the past 10 million years."
  • It would appear that evolution no longer works. And it is reasonable to infer that the putative processes never worked.


16: Evolution is probabilistically likely (even inevitable) - except that it isn’t:


17: Life could have become something different if naturalistic history were re-run - except that it can't be substantially different:

  • Carbon-based life (with water) is the only chemistry that plausibly supports life.
    • NASA believes this is true because they look for carbon compounds and water when they search for life.
    • Carbon is able to compound with other molecules in more ways than all other elements combined.
      • Carbon has four bonding sites.
      • Carbon can bond with itself.
      • Carbon's bonds have an ideal level of strength
      • No other element has carbon's capabilities or flexibility.
  • Life itself is naturalistically impossible because insurmountable problems exist everywhere. Naturalistically, life absolutely can't even be as it is.
    • Abiogenesis can't happen
    • Can't have new body plans (embryo development inflexibility)
    • There is insufficient time (e.g. Cambrian Explosion)


18: Darwin explained the evolution of species - except he didn’t:

  • He made one long argument that mutation and natural selection together are a sufficient cause for speciation, but that is not an explanation of how it happened.
    • Even if they were sufficient to produce the claimed effect, they would only just be drivers of a process that remains opaque. That explains nothing.
    • A real explanation would be able enumerate all the individual small mechanistic steps in an evolutionary sequence. But evolution never does that.
  • Darwin may have supplied a high-level driver for species evolution, but he developed no actual mechanisms for the implementation of the process.
    • The theory fails because there still are no mechanisms that have been experimentally observed to produce changes greater than simple variation.
    • Speciation from a common ancestor has very few functional examples; demonstration of differences that would be classified as greater than speciation do not exist (e.g. a new genus or family). Evolution can only point to the distant unobservable past for such presumed happenings.
    • All mechanisms are at best only predicted to be sufficient based on hopeful extrapolation.


19: Evolution explains life - except that it never does:

  • Abiogenesis is consistently just assumed in evolution. All suggestions for its mechanism though are complete failures.
  • The astoundingly complex "Common Biological Toolkit" of life exists identically in all observed life forms. note This indicates by the theory that it also then existed from the very beginning in the most ancestral life form (LUCA) right at abiogenesis. LUCA had it all; this is beyond all plausibility.

What I have called a Common Biological Toolkit is the functional basis for all living things. On evolutionary theory it must have existed since the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). It includes DNA expressed through RNA into proteins, metabolization of fats and sugars, ATP as an energy intermediate, a cell enclosed by a lipid membrane, ion transporters across the cell wall, cellular division, and etc.

Wikipedia: LUCA

If all these aspects are so critical that they have been completely conserved in all living things, this is evidence that life itself could not exist with all these features. This means that there could not have been a living organism before LUCA without all these common features.


So: Nothing in biology really makes sense in the light of (Darwinian) evolution.

2021-12-01 updated 2022-05-11   © 2022 Larry Grove