Evolution: Its Unanswerable Question
One question removes the keystone of Darwin's arch.
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Here is a question nobody can answer: What does natural selection do for the adapted/fit organisms that survive to reproduce at each generation?
Does that seem like an odd question to you? Do you believe you can answer this odd question?
Try writing one or two sentences along the lines of "Natural selection does this _____________ (fill in the blank) for all the adapted organisms that survive to reproduce." If you can do that, then you will be the first. Try it!
Evolution is a process with two process steps, each of which is said to do something in the process. If this is true, then each step must be amenable to being expressed in a verb form, probably a gerund, i.e., a “doing” step.
The first step of evolution, Darwin’s “descent with modification,” can be described as a “doing” step. For example, one could say that nature performs the first step of evolution by producing (the doing verb) inherited genetic variation during reproduction of each new organism.
Evolution’s first step is uncontroversial: Genetic variation, often genetic mutations, is known to be heritable in living organisms, often producing the “descent with modification” that Darwin observed.
But what about natural selection?
What “doing” function does natural selection perform in the process of evolution? If it does nothing, why is it included in the theory?
If asked, those steeped in evolutionary thought will insist that natural selection does, indeed, do something. In fact, they believe—like Darwin—that natural selection is the keystone in the arch of evolutionary theory. After all, the modern theory of evolution is termed “Evolution by Natural Selection.”
But what does the “by” mean in Evolution by Natural Selection? “By” implies that natural selection does something to make evolution happen. And to be meaningful, this doing must be expressed in a doing verb.
And here is the key insight: Natural selection, to be meaningful, must "do" something for all the evolutionary survivors who, with each generation, live long enough to reproduce. These organisms alone kept the “descent with modification” alive generation after generation to eventually produce us.
Consider every example of evolution provided to demonstrate natural selection. Remember the “Peppered Moth” example? In old England two varieties of moths existed in nature. One variety of moths arrived on earth because they “descended with modification” to be dark-colored moths. The other variety arrived on earth because they “descended with modification” to be light-colored moths.
You know the story. The dark-colored moths could hide more easily on soot-covered tree trunks, leaving the light-colored moths vulnerable to being eaten by birds, which they were. In this evolutionary story, the dark-colored moths were “adapted” better to survive in their environment, which they did.
And there is the similar story of the green bugs and the brown bugs. The green bugs, being poorly adapted to live with hungry birds, got eaten. This left the better adapted brown bugs to live and reproduce.
One last example: the long-necked giraffe. In this example, the short-necked giraffes could not reach leaves on high branches, so they starved to death. Those better-adapted long-necked giraffes, however, could continue to eat and reproduce more long-necked giraffes.
We can all allow for discussion that natural selection “did” something to affect the evolutionary trajectory of the light-colored moths, the green bugs, and the short-necked giraffes. Nature operated in such a way to eat them, starve them, or otherwise end their lives so that they could no longer provide any descent with modification into nature.
But what about the survivors? What about the dark-colored moths, the brown bugs, and the long-necked giraffes? What did natural selection “do” for these organisms?
Do you see the problem?
Consider further: What would the evolutionary fate of the survivors be if natural selection did nothing?
Now do you see the issue?
Consider further: If natural selection did not exist, would the evolutionary trajectory in the line of the dark moths, the brown bugs, or the long-necked giraffes be any different?
Hopefully the unanswerable question is now clear. Natural selection did nothing for the survivors in every example of natural selection provided to us.
The life experience of the dark moths, the brown bugs, and the long-necked giraffes is not affected by natural selection at all; natural selection is invisibly irrelevant to all the survivors who live to reproduce.
Did anything in the evolutionary line of the brown bugs change because the green bugs were being eaten to extinction all around them?
No. At each generation for every line of evolutionary development, the surviving organisms live, reproduce, and die completely unaware of, and without any regard to, and untouched by, the death by natural selection happening to other organisms all around them.
If natural selection did not exist, every organism that is alive today would still be alive, and their very existence would be due solely to the genetic variation provided by descent with modification.
So, we ask again: What does natural selection do for the adapted/fit organisms that survive to reproduce at each generation?
Evolutionists will fill many sentences, paragraphs, and pages in an attempt to answer this question. But the answer should be able to be answered in one, maybe two, sentences clearly and convincingly.
But, alas, no one can answer the question except as we did, with one word.
(Photo derived from photo by Ludovic Migneault on Unsplash)