Natural Selection Being Questioned

In Darwinian evolution, natural selection is the holy grail for replacing an intelligent designer which becomes something that acts like it, but is really a mindless process with a purpose (fitness). There has been a growing divide within evolutionary establishment where molecular geneticist, Robert James Shapiro describes the distinction from those who believe and his friend (Wilkens) who reviews his book and reiterates it, “that selection has a ‘creative’ and crucial role in evolution and, on the other, there is a growing body of scientists (largely those who have come into evolution from molecular biology.”

Wilkens who is very concerned with such an idea as self-organization rather than natural selection even though it still a natural cause, states…

“The arguments from paleontological evidence for the importance of natural selection largely concern the observed long-term trends of morphological change, which are visible in many lineages. It is hard to imagine what else but natural selection could be responsible for such trends, unless one invokes supernatural or mystical forces such as the long-popular but ultimately discredited force of “orthogenesis.”

I am curious to know what scientists think who believe in self-organization that are being told if they don’t accept natural selection they would have to invoke a creator? This is circular reasoning. What has happened is, the criticism comes from an argument against creationists but this is not the issue because self-organization is believed to be a natural cause. Is it the fear and reason which he believes along with many others that self-organization will lead people to creationism or intelligent design? Is this science where one follows the evidence to where it leads rather than structuring it a certain way because of what people may think?

In Wilkens closing statement, he writes…

“My final disagreement with Jim [Shapiro]’s general argument concerns a truly fundamental point, however: the dismissal of natural selection as a shaping force in evolution. Thus, it is stated, at the very start of the book (top of p. 1): “Innovation, not selection, is the critical issue in evolutionary change. Without variation and novelty, selection has nothing to act upon.” While all evolutionists would agree whole-heartedly with the second sentence, most would reject the first. The matter of selection is then virtually ignored until the final section of the book. There we read, as one of nine bullet-points that summarize the core message: “The role of selection is to eliminate evolutionary novelties that prove to be non-functional and interfere with adaptive needs. Selection operates as a purifying but not creative force.”

Both premises either self-engineering or natural selection require “stuff happens” where the organism from non-living matter acquires amazing abilities that enable them to come up with engineering miracles to create life and sustain life on various complex levels. It is nothing more as Wilkens demonstrates in his rejection of self-organization that random formation of replicating RNA is based on ideology rather than science!  There has been no observation of a chemically or geologically plausible pathways to nucleotides or RNA strands.  The modern intelligent designed movement answer to why Darwinism can’t work is because it doesn’t have an intelligent agent which they say solves the information problem and would allow a pathway to go from non-living matter to living cells to man. That too is an ideology!

Nature was engineered and creatively designed by one mind namely God, not some unexplainable intelligent agent nor natural selection or self-organization!


3 thoughts on “Natural Selection Being Questioned

  1. Shapiro resides in the no mans land on this particular subject. He doesn’t believe in ID, yet admits that Neo Darwinism/TheTheory of Evolution is a joke, (i’m paraphrasing of course) and yet he still believes that someday we may have a cohesive theory. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong, but one things for sure, he is truly a man of faith.

  2. Nature was engineered and creatively designed by one mind namely God, not some unexplainable intelligent agent nor natural selection or self-organization!

    Well, there you have it. Michael, while pretending to admire science, flatly denies it. Denies that there are natural laws that we can use to explain the world and to predict how it works.

    It is interesting that Michael denies the concept of self-organization, even though it occurs before his eyes constantly.

    Apparently he thinks that God arranges molecules into the regular patterns of ice crystals as water freezes. How could blind natural forces create such regularity and symmetry? The ultimate irony is that Michael himself is the product of self-organization by the cells of his body. Or does he believe that God personally supervised the division of his single fertilized cell into the trillions of cells of hundreds of different kinds in his body, each having different structures and functions? Does he really believe tyhat an external agent must execute the DNA instructions in his cells—just as a physically separate computer is required to execute a coded program?

    Michael does not accept von Neumann’s mathematical proof that machines can even reproduce themselves under natural law without any outside agency.

    Yes, Michael believes what he wishes about science and mathematics, and repels that which he is not capable of understanding.


    This attitude locks Michael out from one of the most exciting new branches of science: the study of complex systems. Because he doesn’t believe in self-organization, emergent phenomena, or other concepts that go against his preconceptions. So he will never understand evolution, economics, social networks, or many other self-organized systems..

  3. I am mystified ass to why Michael thinks that Shapiro’s book s or Wilkin’s comments support creationism in any way, shape or form.

    Shapiro’s point is that evolution emplys other mecahnisms in addition to natural selection. Michael has to explain why evolution by additional mechanisms implies that evolution did not occur. Or that the discovery of additional mechanisms implies that natural selection does not occur.[1] Desperate, Michael. Really desperate.

    Of course, everyone except Michael already knew that evolution has a number of mechanisms. Selection by the environment. Sexual selection. Epigenetics. Copy-number variation. And many more.

    Michaerl also conveniently missed “The Role of Coevolution,” 335 Sci 410. Creationists maintain that evolution is incapable of bridging valleys between fitn\ness peaks in a landscape. This article shows how the evolution of one species favors innovations iin another species that allow the second species to move through a fitness valley between two peaks. Another creationist icon shot down.

    Michael also seems to think that self-organization is incompatible with natural selection. This is not true. These are two independent mechanisms, and operate without interfering with each other.

    “Irremediable Complexity,” 330 Sci 920, describes the evolution of complex cellular machines by a ratchet-like mechqainism that locks in incremental complexity, preventing the cell from falling back to a previous less-complex state. This “constructive neutral evolution” is significabnt in that it can operate in the absence of natural selection. That is, the cellular machine becomes more complex without any selection pressure whatever.[2]

    I am curious to know what scientists think who believe in self-organization that are being told if they don’t accept natural selection they would have to invoke a creator? This is circular reasoning.

    It’s not circular reasoning. It’s utter nonsense. Michael makes stuff up and then takes off with it, piling assumption upon assumption until his structure topples of its own illogic.

    Natural selection and self-organization are not exclusive alternatives. They are independent concepts. It is obvious that Michael entirely misunderstands both Shapiro and Wilkins. Not too surprising, since creationists make a virtue of ignorance.

    And, by the way, we don’t have to “believe” in self-organization, since we can see it in the world all around us every day.


    [1] Michael apparently neglected to read the recent report “repeatability and Contingency in the Evolution of a key Innovation in Phage Lambda,” 335 Sci 428-432, This experiment (30,000 generations) traced the evolution of a qualitatively novel function by natural selection. The new capability allows the phage to infect its e. coli host via an entirely different pathway. The accompanying news article is at “Natural Selection Caught in the Act,” 335 Sci 335.

    [2] Another example of this mechanism was described more recently, but I can’t rack down the reference to it.

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