Are We Reaching a Consensus that Evolution Is Past Its Prime?

elderly.jpg

I'm surprised at how quickly Darwinists have abandoned any claim that evolution is a powerful process at work today, retreating to the position that its power is a thing of the past. The convenience of that stance, of course, is that it enables them to insist that natural selection was a powerful mechanism without committing themselves to the more risky proposition that it still is.

Laurence Moran is among those who seem to favor this approach, at least as I interpret his 

recent post

.

Ann Gauger and I have shown that Darwin's mechanism cannot accomplish what appears to be one of the more favorable functional transitions among proteins. Specifically, we've presented

experimental evidence

 that the protein pictured here on the left cannot evolve to perform the function of the protein shown on the right, despite their striking similarity and the generous assumptions we granted.

We completely agree with Moran that this exact transition never happened in the history of enzyme evolution (and said as much in 

our paper

). But evidently we expect more of Darwin's theory than he does. In particular, we expect it to conform to the established norm of offering universal principles instead of just-so stories.

If it can be shown that natural selection actually has (present tense) the creative capacity attributed to it, then I will certainly join those who are calling everyone to accept this. But if the facts go the other way, as it seems they have, then perhaps the reality check should likewise go the other way.

Darwin certainly didn't make the mistake of relegating natural selection to the past:

It may metaphorically be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.

By this classically Darwinian view, all that was needed for our ape ancestors to evolve the intellectual capabilities that distinguish us so dramatically from apes was the right "conditions of life." It follows that any ape population of today, if placed in those conditions, should evolve in the same way -- not becoming human per se, but rather human-like in every respect that we benefit from being un-ape-like. And similarly, all it should take for one member of a protein family to transition to a new function is the right selective environment.

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