THE BLOG
01/08/2007 10:03 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Survival of the Wisest Part 3

I remain fascinated by orthodox defenders of Darwinism, who believe that the success of a scientific theory proves its infallibility. As a passing note, I have never denied natural selection, but the holes in current evolutionary theory are glaring. Mitch and others can catch up on earlier posts where I detail these holes, or they can consult many other writers on the subject.

Far from assuming that my readers are scientifically naive, I am assuming that they are curious and forward looking. I invite Mitch and other skeptics to adopt that attitude. They might find it more liberating than blind allegiance to the past.

As for the honeybee example, my response will not mean much to those who haven't read my two posts on 'Survival of the Wisest,' where I wrote:

Responders have criticized my example of honey bees that die when they sting. I am well aware that there are drones, workers, and a queen in each hive. But the fact that the workers are sterile doesn't refute the example but only strengthens it. How can a queen bee, who is responsible for laying all the eggs, possibly know whether some hatch with stingers that are fatal or not? How can her genes know? That they somehow do know is part of the credo of sociobiology.

Let's say, however, that some hives survive with workers that die after they sting while others don't survive with workers that can sting multiple times (as bumblebees can)? There is no way to attribute the survival to this adaptation, and in addition, it's only common sense that workers that can sting multiple times are far better defenders than those that die immediately. This is an evolutionary conundrum and remains one despite Darwinian efforts to explain it.

If this doesn't satisfy Darwinian dogmatists, let me add the following:

Darwinism has hit a serious obstacle in its attempt to explain adaptations in a more sophisticated way. Survival is a conscious act, and ignoring that fact in favor of materialism is a dead end. It's quite self-contradictory for current evolutionary biologists to speak of adaptations that benefit the genes of a species without elucidating how a gene can know anything about the outside world. How do the genes of a queen bee, for example, absorb the information about what's happening to worker bees without some resort of intelligence?

Moreover, crude notions of competition and survival of the fittest are grossly inadequate. The entire field of ecology is based on cooperation, symbiosis, and holistic forces that shape life on this planet. The deeper questions are these:

--How does competition fit in with its opposite, cooperation?

--How can mutations really be random given that complex adaptations such as flight require multiple adaptations simultaneously?

--How can we explain adaptations that don't benefit mating preferences? The honey bee is a perfect example. Worker bees take no part in mating, and it's ludicrous to think that drones prefer queens whose genes produce worker bees that die after they sting?

--How can we explain adaptations that only come into effect after mating, such as the differing life spans of creatures after they breed? By what criteria, for example, does Nature choose for one insect to live ninety days instead of one day?

--How can we explain the rise of consciousness out of unconscious molecules?

Darwinians bluster that the answers to these mysteries already exist. This is far from true. I have debated Nobel laureates and other scientific notables on these issues. Mitch doesn't have to worry that I came away with a freshman biology text as my prize, either for winning or losing the debate. But it's always enjoyable to revisit these fascinating issues.

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