Cycling along merrily with the notion of evolution stuck like a straw between my teeth. (Believe it or not, this becomes a much better story, if you can bear the preliminary stuff).
Pigdon, A.R. Rethinking Evolution: A Critique of The Current Evolution Theories
Everyone associates evolution with Darwin’s theory and assumes that the two are synonymous. … Evolution is a word that describes what has happened: life has evolved over the centuries. The Darwinian theory is an attempt to describe how this evolution occurred. So we must distinguish between the fact of evolution and the theory of evolution.
Michael Archer of the University of New South Wales (1987) gives the following definition, which sums up the generally accepted understanding of the present form of the Darwinian theory.
The origin of life from prebiotic substances and the subsequent differentiation through time of all species from pre-existing species, this ongoing process being the result of changes produced by natural selection and/or mutation in the genetic make-up of populations.
This definition highlights the major features of the current theory of evolution:
Life originated spontaneously from inorganic matter.
There has been an unbroken line of development from the earliest life forms to the total number of life forms extant today.
This change has come about through mutations (changes) in the genes and these changes are passed on to succeeding generations.
Changes that are environmentally advantageous and reproductively superior, increasing a particular variant’s progeny, tend to replace those forms that produce less progeny. This process is called natural selection.
… refers to total evolution by natural causes and goes beyond interspecies evolution by suggesting that the origin of life and all the changes that have occurred from bacteria to humans are due entirely to physical causes such as the nature of matter and chance association of atoms and molecules in their interaction with the environment.
Charles Darwin acknowledged that the lack of any intermediate stages between species in the fossil record was one of the strongest arguments against his theory, but he believed that this was due to the incompleteness of the record and the fragmentary nature of the fossils then available. He expected that as new fossils were found intermediate ones would come to light bridging the gaps between the species. In the last 130 years the search for fossils has been intensified, motivated by the desire to find these transitional forms, so that, today, fossils of around one hundred thousand species have been recovered, but instead of confirming the theory of gradual evolution, this wealth of fossil evidence has generally contradicted it.
The big question that scientists seek to answer is: How did the vast variety of living organisms of today’s fungal, plant and animal kingdoms arise? A related problem is: Why have many of these species remained unchanged since they first appeared in the fossil record? If mutation, recombination, and natural selection are always at work producing new types of organisms why do most species and classes remain virtually unchanged for millions of years? …
My cloudy response, cycling along my sunny trail in my imaginary Provence. There’s a baguette in my cycle basket, and olives and cheese, and a beautiful woman at the end of my journey, sitting under a tree, dribbling honey over coconut cakes. And I, perversely, am thinking of evolution still, barely watching where my cycle travels. Dangerous territory. Smart arse musing about evolution, or a heart-stoppingly erotic woman, food, wine, and… ?
Oh blah blah, wheels spinning dust, back to my straw and evolution.
This question [see above, prior to my lover’s journey] brings up another, very simple question. If evolution happens so slowly, in response to environmental conditions, how is it that any given species continues to live under threat? We must conclude, given the hypothesis of natural selection, that evolution – which is a kind of organic, biological ‘armour’ against environmental change which threatens – marches along at the same pace as environmental, intra-species threats. How it does so cannot be explained or proven, only surmised, hypothesized. It has not been proven.
Further, and again, simply; if evolution moves along at such a slow pace, how is it that any given species survives at all? Environmental threats do not simply sit down and courteously wait while a species evolves over a long stretch of time. Other animals which hunt a species do not do the same; they continue to hunt, and if a given species cannot evolve quickly enough to protect itself – by disguising itself, for example – then it will soon become extinct. Sooner rather than later, in my view.
Does this mean that evolution is just plain wrong, or half wrong? Does evolution happen much more quickly than was surmised by Darwin – between one generation to the next, for example? That seems to make much more sense to me than conceiving vast stretches of time in which evolution happens. This is just a simple question, as I have said. It is nothing but barely (scientifically) educated musing. But it seems compelling to me. Environmental and other threats wait for no man, or mollusc. It’s a wonder that, under the Darwinian model, we are not all wiped out one after another, over a relatively short period of time. What then? More ‘primordial soup’, bubbling along, thinking about what process of existence and evolution it will try next? Just for a grand cosmic laugh…
I stop my bicycle. The tree, glittering blue sky, with shimmering leaves and a butterfly or two flitting, seen, then unseen – and my lover, picking pine needles, dropping them, smiling secretly. In Provence. So much better than evolution, this journey to her.