ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) — The Darwinian concept of natural selection seems pretty straightforward: The most fit survive and pass their genes on to their offspring, while unfit organisms die off. But new research, published in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, shows survival is a lot more complicated, and natural selection is neither clear-cut nor provable.
The researchers, who study natural selection as it relates to infectious diseases, explained the theory does not account for environmental changes.
For example, some weeds in a vacant lot may carry a gene variation that helps them thrive in hot sunshine while others favor cool shade. Weather patterns could change over time, or builders might erect or tear down structures around the lot, changing the sunny and shady areas. Such a change would also alter the survival benefit of sun-loving or shade-thriving genes.
Cooperative gene variations also exist that seem to provide no survival benefit for individual organisms, such as insects with genes that cause some to destroy the eggs of mere workers in order to protect the predominance of the queen. Such a gene variation would do nothing to help the individual insect survive, though it certainly would benefit the queen.
Randy Guliuzza, an engineer, physician, and science expert with the Institute for Creation Research, said natural selection cannot deal with the complexities of how organisms adjust to their environment because the concept has the whole process backward.
Natural selection makes the environment the active agent and all living things just passive modeling clay. But, nature doesn’t possess a brain — it can’t select, Guliuzza said. Organisms can self-adjust only because God designed them with innate internal systems that continuously track environmental changes and make appropriate adjustments.
“Natural selection says we have to be adaptable in order to adapt and evolve, but how do we become adaptable unless we have the internal systems to do so?” Guliuzza said. “It is like the chicken and the egg riddle in which everything has to show up at once.”