Darwinism Evolving

The Wired Science blog recently raised some interesting questions in their post entitled “At 200, Darwin Evolves Beyond Evolution“.  Now, as near as I can tell, the folks at ‘Wired’ are pretty far away from any dogmatic mantras, whether they be on the ID or the neo-Darwinistic side of things.  And the point of that title is that neo-Darwinism has moved far beyond Darwin’s original ideas, and therefore should be referred to with a different name.  But the post also raised what it called some “big, unanswered questions”.

Ones I find most interesting is this: 

  • How does evolution work in a superorganism?  Bee colonies or leaf cutter ants seem to have the ability to operate as a single entity, even though the colony is made up of thousands of separate insects.  And it seems that genetically, some of the members of the colony develop genetically different profiles, and those seem to enable them to act altruistically within the colony.  In other words, they develop the genetic profile that allows the colony to survive, not the individual.  And most perplexing for evolutionists is that some of these highly distinct, genetically different members of the colony cannot reproduce.

That flies in the face of the standard Darwinian doctrine of survival of the fittest.  What could the mechanism have been that would allow the genetic evolution to benefit the colony rather than the individual?  Seems like that’s a pretty profound problem for Darwinism.

Yet, the Darwinian naturalist-atheists are undeterred.  The speculation, er, hypothecation, is that the superorganism is behaving in a more sophisticated way – survival of the fittest colony, not survival of the fittest ant.  From the article:

Superorganisms, for example, are sometimes the only way to make sense of phenomena like eusociality, in which individual insects care for offspring unrelated to them. 

Click on that link, and you get this gem:  “Is Homosexuality an Evolutionary Step Towards the Superorganism?”  Excuse me?  Come again?  Are we now being told with a straight face that homosexuality is a necessary adaptation for the survival of the human race? 

Only by conceiving of evolution as acting upon entire populations rather than individual organisms can we understand eusociality — the mysterious, seemingly “altruistic” behaviors exhibited by insects who forego reproduction in order to care for a colony’s young.

So, not only do we ‘scientifically’ come up with the notion that some magical force works within groups of insects to nudge the colony toward behaviors that allow the colony to survive, not the individual insect, but now we can see that human beings are evolving not just as individual persons, but as a species as well, and that we need the specialized contributions of homosexuals to help us along!  

Much of the article referenced the “legendary sociobiologist” Edward O. Wilson, who seems to be both the pioneer and primary expert in the field. 

Wilson thinks eusociality evolved as a group-level adaptation for out-competing other insect colonies for food: with some colony members devoted to protecting eggs and larva, others could forage farther abroad. All that’s needed to take this evolutionary step is the rise of a gene — or system of genes — that makes workers want to stay home and help rather than leave the colony and reproduce elsewhere.

The article does not get into what the mysterious force is that encourages individuals to rear young that are not their own, behave altruistically, and to operate as a unit, not a group of individuals.  In a related article

When opposing streams of leafcutter ants share a narrow path, they instinctively alternate flows in the most efficient way possible. Studying how ants manage this could provide the basis for a system of driverless cars running on ant traffic algorithms.

“They never get stuck in traffic,” said Audrey Dussutour, a University of Sydney entomologist. “We should use their rules. I’ve been working with ants for eight years, and have never seen a traffic jam — and I’ve tried.”

People have long been fascinated with the ability of ants to organize colonial activities in patterns as sophisticated as any urban engineer’s megalopolis blueprint. In recent years, scientists have turned ant traffic flows into algorithms applicable t0 data transmission and vehicular traffic.

So the colony acts not only as if it has a mind of its own, but one that is highly ordered, capable of impressive feats of engineering, and absolutely unconnected to any of the ants, groups of ants, or any physical thing at all.  So, if it looks like it has a mind of its own, maybe it does.  And maybe, just maybe, the mind it has is not something material!  Allow me to editorialize…

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might actually be a duck!

People have also long wondered why species were supposed to have a built-in ‘desire’ to survive.  Why should there be any desire, tendency or bias at all toward survival?  Why should an ant, or a plant, or a cell, want to survive?  And so now we see that the metaphysical presupposition built into the Darwinian theory – denied by the Darwinists – was there all along.  The survival bias that was stipulated a priori, was not only a metaphysical presupposition, but we also see now that the survivorship bias is not universal!  

Now the Darwinians need to jerry-rig their naturalist-atheist grand theory once again.  This time it’s not survival of the fittest living thing, it’s survival of the fittest assemblage of things!  And they’re going to have to go back quite a long way to come up with an explanation for the mysterious force that makes some individuals ‘want’ to survive, and others ‘want’ to act contrary to that tendency. 

There are plenty of people who can see the metaphysical presuppositions, or the faith built into their naturalistic theories.  I think this illustrates quite well what Paul Davies meant when he said that science’s “… claim to be free of faith is manifestly bogus.”

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One thought on “Darwinism Evolving

  1. Havok

    In ants, females result from fertilised eggs and are diploid (full set of chromosomes, basically), while the males result from unfertilised eggs and are haploid (half a set of chromasomes, much like a sperm or an egg cell in humans).
    This means the males are 100% genetically the same as the queen (though she is only 50% related to them), while the females are 50% related to the queen (and I think 75% related to each other).
    This relatedness is far greater than in mammals and explains why there is such cooperation between the different individuals. This can be explained from a gene selection point of view, ala Dawkins “The Selfish Gene”.
    Though the group selection model can be helpful in understanding things, it has not been shown that selection can/does take place on the group rather than on the genes of the reproductive individuals, as far as I’m aware.

    So, no need for some additional “force”, and no metaphysical presumptions 🙂

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