Why Evolution’s "Emperor" (Natural Selection) Has No Clothes!

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Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, is often a child’s first foray into the realm of philosophy, as it raises questions regarding conformity, self-questioning and obedience to authority. Its central theme is the idea that the Emperor’s wardrobe is “real” is based, in large part, on the self-deception, self-doubt, and fear of reprisal from one’s own peers for the charade to even be possible.

The tale’s synopsis can be summarized as that of two scammers’ appeal to the narcissistic tendencies of a local ruler, in declaring they can weave him a suit that will be invisible only to the intellectually deficient (i.e., stupid) among the local citizenry. And not wanting to be the only ones seemingly too dull to see what isn’t there, the entire population pretends to behold his fine new raiment. That is until a child among them declares what is abundantly apparent—the Emperor has no clothes!

In a similar way, for over 100 years now, naturalists have been pointing to the abundant evidence of evolution to the West’s population in declaring that it is obviously visible to those who aren’t so blinded by their doltish and foolhardy commitment to religious beliefs. How can you not believe in evolution when natural selection can be observed? And so aggressively has this notion been put forth, in an effort to avoid the embarrassment of seeming intellectually deficient, even many in the church have obediently smiled and nodded obeisance to this cloak of invisibility donned long ago by the story of evolution.

Natural Selection = Evolution?

Because natural selection is so equated with the story of evolution, and biblical creationists of course do not hold to the evolutionary story, many people are sometimes surprised when they find out we actually “believe in” natural selection, perhaps thinking we do see the Emperor’s shiny getup.

That’s because many people think natural selection is basically equivalent to “molecules to man” evolution and is still often one of the biggest “proofs” for evolution offered in school classrooms and popular media. And this is likely due to the fact that natural selection can be scientifically demonstrated, leading many to believe “evolution” itself has been confirmed—and therefore repeatedly fully validated scientifically!

Change = Evolution?

The namesake of the most popular version of evolution today, Charles Darwin, claimed observable evidence of evolution in the form of natural selection because of the variation he saw within certain kinds of animals, particularly the various finches he observed in the Galapagos Islands. He saw many differences, such as variation in beak size. Today, the ability for these small, observable variations to occur in real time within a species is now often called microevolution by many. And this is where it starts to get a little tricky for the average person, who often hears and understands conceptually that the generic meaning of evolution is ‘change in living things over time’.

You see, every biologist on the planet, whether creationist or evolutionist, believes creatures can change over time. So simply stating something has changed cannot mean some kind of “fish to philosopher” definition of evolution, if both camps, almost diametrically opposed in their beliefs, affirm creatures can change. It is actually the type of change that both groups disagree on, and which kind observational science supports.

You see as Darwin observed variations in various kinds of animals, he then extrapolated the observable variation he saw by claiming that perhaps given enough time they could eventually become fundamentally new kinds of animals. But in order for that to have happened, one kind of creature (let’s say a lizard-like animal) would have somehow needed to acquire brand new, never before existing genetic information for different forms, functions, and features (like feathers, wings, or a different type of lung system) to turn it into a different kind (like a bird, for example).

But the problem was that Darwin knew almost nothing of what we now know regarding modern genetics and simply assumed that there was virtually no limit to the potential variation among the individuals of a species. Though truthfully, any animal breeder of his day could have told him otherwise, because people have been performing experimental breeding for thousands of years.

Darwin’s far-fetched beliefs in strange ideas like the possibility of a race of bears fishing in the water perhaps slowly developing shorter legs, longer tails, then wider mouths, until they eventually evolved into whales, is the concept often called macroevolution today. And it makes for a good story. But like all fiction, it is completely unobservable outside of man-made depictions in textbooks and videos that are used to convince people of something no one has ever seen.

Ironically, Darwin often used variation in kinds brought about by animal breeding as analogous to what natural selection might accomplish. He further reasoned that if pigeons and dogs can be selectively bred by man to produce certain desired traits, then nature itself might select for limitless traits that promote survival itself through natural selection. However, while breeders use intelligence to select for desired traits, such as size, strength, or physical appearance, the limits of what can be selected for are determined by the genetic variability already in existence within the creature, contrary to what Darwin imagined. Selection is a process dependent on what is available to be selected from, which is not limitless.

You Can’t Select What’s Not There

Detailed genetic analysis and knowledge of how DNA functions became a study many years after Darwin and revealed that all of the genes from a species compose a gene pool from which selection can occur in populations. The key to remember is that selection is limited to the genes in the gene pool of that particular kind. Genes that aren’t in the gene pool of a kind can’t be selected for.

Take for example the tremendous diversity in domestic dogs, which includes over 150 varieties. Yet even with all of this variation, from the St. Bernard to the Chihuahua, Pekingese to Poodle, Pomeranian, and Great Pyrenees, there are limits to what dog breeders can achieve. They can select from traits already within the gene pool such as height, leg length, fur color, and ear size, but they can’t select for what isn’t there.

No matter how hard they try, they will never breed a flying dog with wings, feathers, and flight navigation systems through selection, because there are no genes within the gene pool to produce wings or any of the other numerous specializations necessary for flight to select from.

Think of selection like going to a buffet lunch with friends. Each of you can select different things and result in different combinations, but your selection won’t cause brand new, never before seen foods to appear on the table that weren’t there before!

Call Their Bluff When Dealing with Evolution

Sometimes, when trying to communicate the “big picture” as to why natural selection isn’t evolution, I like to use a simple explanation using a few decks of cards to illustrate. Although, like all analogies, it isn’t completely accurate in every detail, it can still be effective in demonstrating some basic concepts.

Firstly, to better understand the analogy, we need to recognize that sexually reproducing creatures, like dogs for example, only get their genetic information from their parents: half of their DNA from Mom and half from Dad. So, let’s then use decks of playing cards being compared to the genetic information in a specific kind of creature (dogs for example), to help us understand how changes in living things can happen without them “evolving.”

How to Get Variation

If we start with two decks, shuffling each and dealing half of the cards from one deck and half from the other deck into a new deck, we would see the new deck we created would be different from what the first ones were originally. And if you keep doing this, the decks will change every time you deal them. Some decks will look more similar to others, and some will be very unique, but because there’s a limited amount of cards to start with, they can only vary so much. It’s like the dog kind. You can get chihuahuas, Beagles, poodles, or Great Danes, but they’re all still dogs.

And the big takeaway is this, no matter how long you deal these cards, shuffling and dealing cards won’t create new cards with brand new symbols that never existed before.

You might get decks with more red than black cards, specific combinations of big and little cards, you might get crumpled, damaged or worn-out cards, but it will only produce combinations of the various symbols you already had from the decks when you started, and they will never produce new cards with new symbols that never existed before. Dogs never have offspring with wings for example.

As a matter of fact, if you were able to keep doing this, eventually you might lose some cards, and some decks may not even contain certain cards anymore (some decks might not have any 2s in them, or some might not have any queens for example). And this is the same as what natural selection does, it simply selects from what is already available: it doesn’t add new, never before seen “cards” so to speak. As Professor Walter Veith, former holder of the Chair of Zoology at the University of the Western Cape, said when discussing natural selection,

The very name “selection” implies that you’re choosing between two or more variants. Natural selection never increases the number of variants; it only decreases them. So . . . how does a mechanism that makes less and less end up making more and more?1

In the same way, if a various group of dogs (some with long, medium, or short hair) migrated into an area that had a very cold climate, obviously the long-haired dogs would likely survive better as they would be able to keep warmer than their shorter-haired counterparts. So, because this environment favors that specific genetic combination, those dogs will reproduce more effectively (i.e., their genetic “deck” is advantageous in the game of life under this environmental “rule set”). And any new dogs in that environment that do not have those favorable traits will get eliminated more frequently, leaving behind the long-haired group.

In this case, the rules are set up to select for the long-haired dogs to win and the short-haired dogs to lose. But remember, if we changed the environment, i.e., the rules, and had dropped the original group of dogs into a very warm environment, the climate would have selected for the dogs with more of the short-haired gene combinations.

Natural Selection Isn’t Creative

So natural selection isn’t a truly creative process; it only selects from what God made in the first place in each kind. To create truly new traits, mutations in the DNA would have to happen that could somehow create, add, and integrate a huge amount of incredibly sophisticated information into the gene pool—something that has not been observed.

Genetic mutation may sound creative when used in pop-culture references where super-heroes gaining fantastic abilities abound, but in actuality they are genetic copying mistakes caused by various factors that occur when DNA produces copies of itself. And neo-Darwinism basically says that mutations provide variety while natural selection sorts out the best of this new genetic information in order to “evolve” creatures. But far from producing useful and novel genetic information, mutations tend to break things. They degrade the existing genetic code already in place. And while you can achieve different looks, such as normally red flowers being made pink when mutations delete some of the red pigment for example, this is not actually the creation of a novel genetic feature from nothing. It is brought about by subtraction, not addition.

So when evolutionists invoke mutation as a key evolutionary mechanism, it’s like saying that scrambling the information in a computer program could perhaps result in better software being written by random processes! But, in reality, corruption of DNA coding is a recipe for chaos—and the worse the corruption, the greater the problems. This is why we see many serious diseases today as the direct result of genetic mutation. These are not the kinds of changes required for “pond scum to people” evolution.

So, watch out for the equivocation and obfuscation that is often used when discussing the story of evolution. Evolutionists like to refer to the sort of variation we see among individual kinds of animals as microevolution, implying that this is somehow related to the chance formation of fundamentally new animals by the supposedly existing but never observed process known as macroevolution. However, there is no demonstrable experiment relating so-called microevolution and macroevolution, which makes these terms highly misleading.

Believe Your Own Eyes

So be brave enough not to fold under the pressure of those around you that say evolution is a fact and has been observed. Be honest, has anyone ever seen something even close to what would properly termed evolution in this world? No. The Emperor has no clothes!

The Bible on the other hand makes perfect sense of what we observe in nature. In Genesis 1, God tells us that he created all animals to reproduce according to their kinds. He created and gave each kind a different gene pool from which came all of the wonderful variation we see today within each of the various kinds, but all without one kind ever changing into another.

Footnotes

  1. Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati, “Professing creation A distinguished zoologist ‘tells it like it is’ about evolution,” Creation 22, no. 1 (1999): 36–38.

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