I’ve been debating Derrick Rohe and Dan Listermann on Facebook. My challenge to them:
“Show me evidence that random mutations produce beneficial evolutionary events. New features, new organs, better adaptations.”
They can’t prove the random part.
Honestly I suspect they’re struggling a bit to see where I’m coming from.
So let’s cut to the chase. I started asking myself the same question 11 years ago when I first got into a brawl with my brother Bryan about evolution.
I wasn’t a biologist. I knew I didn’t know. Maybe Bryan was right.
I said, “IF random mutations drive evolution, we should be able to find experiments where they sped up mutations somehow, and accelerated evolution.”
It took no time to find those exact experiments. They bombarded fruit flies with radiation from the early 1900s right up to the present.
The whole enterprise was pretty much a total failure. All they succeeded in doing was “If we damage Chromosome #14, we get a leg sticking out of the fly’s head.”
If you apply communication theory you know exactly why. Claude Shannon wrote one of the most important papers in the history of computer science in 1948. It was called “Mathematical Theory of Communication.”
His paper (cited 62,000 times in Google Scholar) establishes that you can only increase information if you obey the syntax of the coding language.
All other kinds of interference can only destroy the message. This is true in computers and cell phones, and it’s just as true in biology – because DNA is also code. (Over 6,000 of those 62,000 papers also discuss DNA!)
Every programmer knows that you can never randomly mutate letters or symbols in any computer program without trashing the whole thing.
DNA is no different. Yet for a century there has been a giant urban legend in biology (evangelized by atheists like Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye) that random copying errors in DNA supply the raw material for evolution. Those mutations are filtered by natural selection. Then presto, you get evolution.
It’s just as impossible as saying that toast occasionally gets HOTTER when you take it out of the toaster.
It’s not merely unlikely, it’s impossible. Claude Shannon showed why.
So the Random Mutation + Natural Selection theory in biology – even though it’s neat and tidy, easy to explain, and sounds perfectly plausible to the average guy – is flat out impossible.
That is why there’s no evidence it’s true.
Yet there IS evidence for evolution. Lots of experiments in real time.
Because the BIG twist in my story was when I found out Barbara McClintock did radiation experiments in the 1940s. She did succeed in damaging DNA, which is no surprise.
But she approached the problem like a hacker. She used small careful doses, then watched very closely to see what her corn plant did next.
Do you know what happened?
The plant repaired the damage – by editing and repairing its chromosome!
What Barbara had done, without intending to, was trigger the extensive genome editing capabilities of her plant. And in the process, she became the first scientist to ever witness evolution happening in real time.
The plant edited its own DNA, because it was missing something it needed to reproduce. It replaced the missing DNA with other, suitable code. It evolved.
The edits followed definite patterns, which McClintock eventually figured out – and won a Nobel Prize.
So the evolution formula is not
RANDOM MUTATION + NATURAL SELECTION = EVOLUTION
Rather, the evolution formula is:
TRANSPOSITION AND OTHER CELLULAR ENGINEERING + NATURAL SELECTION = EVOLUTION.
NONE of these systems are random. They are directed by the cell, they obey rules, and are just amazing.
All serious biologists know this. What older biologists often don’t realize – because they don’t know communication theory – is that NONE of this is random. The random mutation hypothesis has to be thrown out because it’s not even mathematically provable in the first place.
By the way, the latest 2015 Nobel Prize was for insights into the incredibly intricate error correction systems of the cell – which are much like what computers, Wi-Fi routers and cell phones use to clean up dirty signals.
Cells don’t evolve through random mutations. They RESIST and REPAIR them!
And that, my friends, is Evolution 2.0 in 800 words or less. I hope you’ll pick up the book and get the whole story.