Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Julian Huxley's Confession by John A. Davison

by John A. Davison

The history of any science often reveals aspects of that science that have escaped attention in the intervening years. As someone so wisely put it -”The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” I present, in this brief essay, one particularly revealing demonstration of that phenomenon, one that is especially significant to the current status of the Darwinian hypothesis.

Julian Huxley was the grandson of the distinguished Thomas Henry Huxley, known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his spirited defense of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Like his illustrious grandfather Julian Huxley became a major spokesperson for Darwinism when in 1942 he published his“Evolution: The Modern Synthesis.”

Two years earlier, Richard B. Goldschmidt had published “The Material Basis of Evolution” in which he had in effect dismissed the corpuscular gene as the evolutionary unit and instead proposed that it was the chromosome and its internal structure, which had served to direct evolutionary change. It is difficult to imagine two books more opposed in perspective.

Huxley referred to Goldschmidt some 28 times, yet remained a convinced selectionist Darwinian nevertheless. It is important to remember that Darwin wholeheartedly subscribed to Lyell’s Uniformitarian Doctrine; namely, that the forces we now see shaping the world are the same forces that have operated in the past. While that is what most geologists still accept there is no a priori justification for extending that concept to the living world. That is what makes what I am about to present all the more significant.

Huxley’s book ends with the chapter “Evolutionary Progress.” On page 571, seven pages before the end he presents the following synopsis. For emphasis I have italicized key words and phrases but otherwise it is verbatim.

Evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys. Some are extremely short - those leading to new genera and species that either remain stable or become extinct. Others are longer - the lines of adaptive radiation within a group such as a class or subclass, which run for tens of millions of years before coming up against their terminal blank wall. Others are still longer - the lines that have in the past led to the development of the major phyla and their highest representatives; their course is to be reckoned not in tens but in hundreds of millions years. But all in the long run have terminated blindly. That of the echinoderms, for instance, reached its climax before the end of the Mesozoic. For the arthropods, represented by their highest group, the insects, the full stop seems to have come in the early Cenozoic: even the ants and bees have made no advance since the Oligocene. For the birds, the Miocene marked the end; for the mammals, the Pliocene.

I was amazed to read this summary and was curious to find out what prompted Huxley to include it at the end of his book, as it would seem to negate much of what preceded it. Where did he get the notion that evolution was finished? This I feel I was able to do from a paper by the anti-Darwinian paleontologist Robert Broom. Huxley and Broom had corresponded on the subject as revealed by Broom:

And a few zoologists are beginning to recognize that evolution is slowing down, if not quite stopped. In a letter I had from Professor Julian Huxley only a few months ago he says, ‘I have often thought about your idea of the fading out of evolutionary potency, and though I cannot pretend to agree with some of the philosophical corollaries which you draw from it, I more and more believe that it is of great importance as a fact.’ (Broom, 1933).

I was disappointed to discover that the only reference Huxley made to Broom was in a footnote on page 568:

A small minority of biologists, such as Broom (1933), still feel impelled to invoke ‘spiritual agencies’ to account for progressive evolution, but their number is decreasing as the implications of modern selection theories are grasped.

The reference to “spiritual agencies” by Broom was his suggestion that there had been a Plan, a word he capitalized.

Without referring to either Huxley or Broom, Pierre Grasse reached the same conclusions:

Facts are facts; no new broad organizational plan has appeared for several
hundred million years, and for an equally long period of time numerous
species, animal as well as plant, have ceased evolving… At best, present
evolutionary phenomena are simply slight changes of genotypes within
populations, or substitution of an allele with a new one. (Grasse, The
Evolution of Living Organisms,1977 page 84.)

The period of great fecundity is over; present evolution appears as a
weakened process, declining or near its end. Aren’t we witnessing the
remains of an immense phenomenon close to extinction? Aren’t the small
variations which are being recorded everywhere the tail end, the last
oscillations of the evolutionary movement? Aren’t our plants, our animals,
lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and
fauna? (Ibid, page 71).

I unhesitatingly answer yes to each of Grasse’s three questions and I hope others can as well. The reason I have presented this brief essay is to demonstrate that, even from within the Darwinian establishment, grave doubts have surfaced concerning its basic tenets from one of their most prominent spokespersons. I am not surprised Huxley is rarely referenced these days.

Broom, R. (1933) Evolution - Is there intelligence behind it? South African Journal of Science, 30: 1-19

Goldschmidt, R. B. (1940) “The Material Basis of Evolution.” Yale University Press, New Haven.

Grasse, P. (1977 “Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation.” Academic Press, New York. (Original French edition 1973).

Huxley, J. (1942) “Evolution: The Modern Synthesis.” Harper, New York and London.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The very human face of David Springer

I have not joined in the general hilarity elsewhere over the recently published image of John's erstwhile acolyte, DaveScot. I would be too vulnerable to the "pots and kettles" accusation for that.

No, the interesting (not to say, frightening) thing is, there is a distinct resemblance. Tidy the hair, trim the beard to a neat goatee and...

Dave, we could be twins.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Darwinian Delusion by John A. Davison

It is now 147 years since the publication of Darwin’s celebrated “On the Origin of Species,” yet not a single species has been observed to be formed through the mechanism he proposed. That mechanism, the natural selection of randomly produced variations is apparently incompetent to transform contemporary species even into a new member of the same genus. The most intensive artificial selection has also proven to be unable to transcend the species barrier. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that evolution is finished as proposed by the anti-Darwinian Robert Broom and the Darwinian Julian Huxley, curiously the same man who coined the term “the modern synthesis.” (Davison, 2004). Pierre Grasse suggested the same.

“Aren’t our plants, our animals lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and fauna?” (Grasse, 1977, page 71).

I realize that some would not agree with us that evolution is finished, but I am now convinced that it is. How then is it possible for an hypothesis to survive without verification? Both the Phlogiston of Chemistry and the Ether of Physics collapsed when controlled experiment demonstrated them to be without foundation. Darwinism also has failed to survive the acid test of experimental verification. Why then has it persisted?

The reason for this paradox is the subject of this brief essay. It is, as my title indicates, because Darwinism is a delusion. The delusion is that evolution (phylogeny) has proceeded as the result of external causes which can be identified and experimentally manipulated. In my opinion that is impossible because such causes do not now and never did exist. They also do not exist for ontogeny, the development of the individual from the egg. Ontogeny and phylogeny are manifestations of the same reproductive continuum. Since only ontogeny remains, we must look to it as a model evolution. Does not ontogeny proceed entirely on the basis of contained information present in the fertilized egg? Of course it does. The only role for exogenous factors is to provide the necessary conditions for development to take place. For the amphibian fertilized egg all that is required is a freshwater environment at a suitable temperature. In a very real sense that is all that is required for the development of a mammal. I can say that because the amniotic fluid in which the mammalian embryo is bathed is very low in dissolved salts, like the ancestral environment in which our amphibian predecessors developed. Even the crab-eating frog of India, which dives into the surf to capture its prey, must go inland to fresh-water ponds in order to reproduce. Thus the mammalian womb retains the properties of the environment in which our ancestors developed in the past as their relatives still do today. This is true also of the amniotic fluid surrounding the bird or reptile embryo. It too is much lower in salts than the blood or tissue fluids, betraying their fresh-water ancestry as well.

In every instance when we look for a role for the environment as a guide to evolutionary change we encounter a blank wall. The most that can be documented is that of acting as a stimulus for a potential already present. That includes the capacity to become resistant to insecticides and all other phasic responses which, unlike evolution, have proven to be reversible. Mendelian allelic mutations are also reversible and accordingly have played no significant role in evolution either. This realization has led me to postulate the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis (PEH) as the only reasonable alternative for the formation of species as well as any of the higher taxonomic categories (Davison, 2005).

Coupled with the Darwinian delusion is the incapacity of certain ideologies to accept the implications of a predetermined evolution. Such a scenario demands one or more past intelligences far beyond our present capacity to comprehend. Such concepts are anathema to the atheist Darwinian perspective. The Darwinians have traditionally pretended that they had no critics. It is evident in the references and citations that are missing from the writings of their primary spokespersons, Ernst Mayr, William Provine, Stephen Jay Gould and most recently Richard Dawkins.

Otto Schindewolf recognized the failure of the experimental approach to phylogeny more than a half century ago. He too has been ignored but not by this investigator.

“Many recent authors have spoken of experimental evolution; there is no such thing, Evolution, a unique, historical course of events that took place in the past, is not repeatable experimentally and cannot be investigated that way.” Basic Questions in Paleontology, page 311, italics his emphasis, bold my emphasis.

Davison, JA. [2004], Is Evolution Finished? Rivista di Biologia 97:111-116
Davison, J.A. [2005], A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. Rivista di Biologia 98: 155-166.
Grasse, P. [1977], Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation. Academic Press, New York. (original French edition 1973)
Schindewolf, O. [1993] Basic Questions in Paleontology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. (Original German edition 1950).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If it ain't broke...

Apologies to everyone. In trying to move this blog to another host to improve accessibility, I appear to have closed the comments on all previous threads and don't appear to be able to reverse the situation. You should be able to comment on this thread at least, so if anyone has any solutions to offer, I would be grateful.

As a last resort, I can always repost a thread topic.

Edit: well, isn't that amazing. Posting this has restored comments.