Conflating Natural Selection with Evolution

Conflating Natural Selection with Evolution

Evolutionary scientists recently announced a study that many are claiming is proof of evolution in vertebrates.  However, as usual with evolutionary ideas, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors going on which obscures the facts. Words are being thrown around which are being used to mean multiple things without a clear change in meaning.  There has been no observational proof of evolution. It’s all in the words the evolutionists choose to use.  Instead, evolutionists are conflating natural selection with evolution….again.

The study was incredibly thorough and well constructed if the point was to prove natural selection exists. Scientists captured hundreds of light and dark colored mice from a habitat area in northern Nebraska. The genotypes of each group of mice were sequenced.  The researchers then constructed two massive enclosures and released mice into each.  Half the dark-colored mice were released onto dark soil where they were more naturally camouflaged and half were released on lighter soil where they were easy to spot.  The same strategy was used for the lighter colored mice. The researchers then left and came back after three months of allowing the mice to live in their new enclosure, exposed to the elements and the possibility of predators.  Upon their return, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the light colored mice had survived much better on the light soil and the darker mice had survived much better on the darker soil.

The researchers found that a mutation in the genome of the mice had an impact on their survival. This particular mutation deleted an amino acid in the darker colored mice, allowing their offspring to become lighter. In the lighter colored environment, this mutation was favored, leading to an increase in lighter colored mice.  In the darker environment, this mutation was not favored and did not proliferate in the population. From this, the evolutionary scientists deduced that evolution had occurred. “So I think this is a very satisfying illustration of the full process of evolution, from the ecological consequences of these phenotype changes down the molecular details.” Lead researcher Hopi Hoekstra told ScienceDaily.

Critical examination reveals that, as usual, evolutionists are equivocating on the word “evolution”.  Evolutionists use the term “evolution” about as loosely as they can. In this instance, the word is being used to mean variation produced by natural selection. However, the implication is that all live somehow evolved from nothing and that this study is proof. That is a serious over-extrapolation from the available data. While there certainly was change, apart from some old earth heretics, no one denies that change occurs within a group. What creationists argue is that change is limited to within the group and that no new groups are formed.  This study is certainly evidence of natural selection guiding changes within the group. It is not evidence of the rise of a new group.

Further, this mutation is not beneficial, which some evolutionists will assuredly argue. A truly beneficial mutation must be beneficial across the board and have no drawbacks. This mutation is only situationally beneficial. If the mutation occurred in a population living in dark soil, natural selection would weed it out. Light coated mice would stick out like snow on asphalt in a dark-colored environment. Predators would feast on the veritable smorgasbord of essentially free food. That hardly qualifies as a beneficial mutation in any meaningful way.

This study is very illustrative of the traditional evolutionary way of arguing. They attempt to define evolution as simply the results of natural selection. They then redefine the word mid-argument to mean vast amount of changes over long periods of time.  Some of them do it deliberately but most have simply been conditioned to believe that the results of natural selection are the same as macroevolution. They saw the examples in their textbooks in high school and college which were undoubtedly examples of natural selection working on a population, and were never taught to critically analyze them.  Unfortunately for their dogma, natural selection is not the same as evolution.  Change over time happens, no doubt, but this change is small and limited to small changes, such as the change in coat color in a population this study demonstrated. No new kinds have arisen. Mice have remained mice.

2 thoughts on “Conflating Natural Selection with Evolution

  1. Your concept of beneficial mutation is certainly novel (might we say a mutation?-). You say “A truly beneficial mutation must be beneficial across the board and have no drawbacks.” I’ve not been able to think of a single genetic variant that fits that description and so I can’t think of any beneficial genetic variants. For example, you seem to think that the darker allele (presumably the ancestral allele) is a “good” or beneficial gene but that allele is not beneficial on a light surfaced as proven in this experiment so by your definition both alleles are non-beneficial. In fact there is no allele that determines color that could possible be considered truly beneficial.

    I would say there are mutations for which it is hard to imagine any benefit and thus we could call them bad mutations but no mutation (or original condition for that matter) confers only benefit. Consider a mutation that makes an antifreeze protein more efficient. That mutation is great for a plant the lives through a harsh winter and so confers a benefit over the other allele. However, the exact same mutation is a detriment to a plant if the winter is mild because it takes energy to make more antifreeze and so that plant is using energy it could have used to make fruit while its neighbor which doesn’t have the mutation uses it extra energy to make more offspring. The mutation can’t be defined as good bad or indifferent outside a context and that context is the environment which may change and thus change our perspective on that mutation.

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    1. I can see where you are coming from, but I think you’ve missed something here. A mutation that causes death would be universally deleterious. I think we can agree on that point. A mutation that confers an upward evolutionary change (ie gaining wings, or the ability to walk rather than crawl), would be what we could call a universally beneficial mutation, at least in the evolutionary paradigm. I think we could probably agree to that point as well, though we’d disagree over it ever happened. That leaves the overwhelming majority of mutations. Most confer no benefit at all and are slightly deleterious. In the few cases where are benefit is conferred, almost exclusively it only benefits the organism in a specific scenario, much like this one. This is not an upward evolutionary change. It helps the mice in one area, but if that same mutation occurs in the same species in a different location, it seriously decreases their fitness, not to mention any other potential, as yet undiscovered problems the mutations may cause.

      If, as you say, no mutation confers solely benefit, evolution has a major problem. If a mutation has a positive, and negative effect, but the positive outweighs the negative slightly or situationally, which I think is how you are defining a “beneficial” mutation, you run into all kinds of problems. For one you cannot get the new phenotypes and genotypes necesary to create new kinds of organisms without carrying over massive genetic baggage that would cause the organism to go extinct incredibly quickly. So either there are/were a ton of universally beneficial mutations, or there should be no life on earth if deep time is accurate. You’re over a barrel at that point. Either there were tons of exclusively beneficial mutations in the past, which we don’t observe today, or there were not, in which case genetic entropy would have wiped out all life on earth. Neither position is particularly pallatable to your view, I’m aware, and frankly, I don’t really expect to change your mind. But I do wish you would.

      Always a pleasure having one of these discussions, and I appreciate you keeping it civil, unlike some of my other commenters whose comments do not get published.

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