I invite you to consider…
What if evolution were true, but it wasn’t quite like Darwin said?
What if there were a new evolutionary model that could explain why fossils show almost no change for millions of years…. then suddenly the Cambrian Explosion: Thousands of new species emerge intact, virtually overnight.
What if this new theory pointed the way to new innovations in artificial intelligence and adaptive computer programs?
What if “Evolution vs. Design” wasn’t an either/or proposition – but both+and?
What if, instead of arguing endlessly about fossils, we could precisely track evolutionary history with the precision of 1’s and 0’s?
What if science and faith were no longer at war?
All these things are not only possible, but a present reality.
I know that’s a pretty bold statement. But by now you’re probably used to that from me. Once again I invite you to relax, hear what I have to say, and consider the information that is presented. See if this makes sense for you.
I really do have a new theory of evolution.
Not only that, in future installments I will use this new theory of evolution to make predictions about what we will discover in the next 3-20 years.
And: after today, you may never think about this question the same way again.
Darwin predicted that the fossil record would show a gradual and steady progression from simple to complex forms of life. It’s now well known that what we see instead is long periods of stability interrupted by sudden leaps forward.
Stephen Jay Gould called this “punctuated equilibrium.” He was at a loss to explain exactly how this worked at the time. But today we have many clues pointing to the answer.
Darwin said that evolution is driven by random variation combined with natural selection.
Today I invite you to consider:
Darwin was half right.
And Darwin was half wrong.
Darwin was definitely right about natural selection.
To be fair, being right about that is no Nobel Prize winning accomplishment. The weaklings die and the strong survive. I think our cave man ancestors were familiar with that one.
(Rog hits Grog over the head with a rock and kills him, then they both get eaten by a hungry tiger. Survival of the fittest… nothing profound about that.)
Seriously, natural selection does not have any kind of creative power at all. All it does is kill of the runts.
The secret to evolution, then, has to be in the “random variation” part.
Darwin, in his time, believed that random variation in heredity produced all manner of species. He said: most of the time it’s harmful, but occasionally it’s helpful and from these variations come all kinds of beautiful forms that appear to be designed.
What is meant by “random variation”?
Thousands of biology books say it’s accidental copying errors in DNA.
They say, essentially, that it’s corrupted data that occasionally turns out to be beneficial instead of harmful.
This is where Darwin and the biology books were wrong.
As a communication engineer I know – with 100.000000000% certainty – that this is impossible.
Nowhere in the vast field of engineering is there any such thing as “the percentage of the time that corrupted data is helpful instead of harmful.”
It’s ALWAYS harmful. Always. Copying errors and data transmission errors never help the signal. They only hurt it.
Now please do not misunderstand me:
I AM *NOT* SAYING EVOLUTION DID NOT OR DOES NOT HAPPEN.
Nope…. I’m suggesting: Evolution just happens a different way than Darwin said. Way different than you were told.
I’ll get to the details of that in a minute. First I need to explain why randomness only destroys information.
Evolution Through the Lens of Information Theory: Random Mutations and Noise
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If we start with the sentence
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”
And randomly mutate the letters, we get sentences that look like this:
The 6uHck brown fox jukped over the lazyHdog
Tze quick bro0n foL juXped over the lazy doF
Tae quick browY fox jumped oGer tgePlazy dog
The iuick brown fox jumped lver the lazy dog
The quiikQbKowSwfox .umped oveh the lazy dog
You can apply all the natural selection to this in the world and you’ll never accomplish anything besides destroying a perfectly good sentence. You can go to www.RandomMutation.com and try for yourself.
Why doesn’t this work?
Because it’s impossible to evolve a sentence one letter at a time – even if you deliberately TRY.
Technically, this is because random mutation is noise and noise *always* destroys a signal. Claude Shannon called it information entropy. Entropy is not reversible. Noise never improves a signal. It only mucks it up.
The only way for this to work is: Evolution has to follow the rules of language.
So…. successful evolution for this short sentence would look something like this:
The fast brown fox jumped over the slothful dog.
The dark brown fox jumped over the light brown dog.
The big brown fox leaped over the lazy dog.
The quick black fox sped past the sleeping dog.
The hot blonde fox sauntered past the sunbathing man.
In English, successful evolution requires precise substitution of verbs and nouns and following the rules of speech.
DNA is no different. DNA has its own language. In fact thousands of linguists have made huge contributions to the Human Genome project by helping to decode the layers of the genetic code. Dozens of linguistic books describe the eerie similarity between DNA and human language.
NEW THEORY OF EVOLUTION:
There is a mutation algorithm that makes intelligent substitutions when species need to adapt to their environment.
It works very much like the sentences I just showed you. DNA actually re-arranges itself like a computer program that rewrites itself on the fly.
Now here’s the kicker:
This is not new. It’s actually more than 60 years old!
A New Theory of Evolution: Cellular Genetic Engineering
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It’s only new to those who are hearing it for the first time.
It’s not just a wild hypothesis, either. It was discovered by geneticist Dr. Barbara McClintock in 1944.
She was decades ahead of her time and she received the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1983. Her picture is now on a U.S. Postage Stamp and she’s one of the greatest scientists in the history of biology.
But even now, people ask me, “Why didn’t they ever teach this to me in biology class?”
Maybe Barbara McClintock could answer that question.
Her discoveries were so radical, so contrary to Darwin, that for most of her career she kept this to herself. She she described the reception of her research as “puzzlement, even hostility. ” Based on the reactions of other scientists to her work, McClintock felt she risked alienating the scientific mainstream, and from 1953 stopped publishing accounts of her research.
Why don’t they teach this in most biology classes now?
I’ll just say, it’s not because her findings haven’t been verified.
And it’s also not because the “random mutation” model works. You may or may not have noticed, but it actually doesn’t work at all. I’ve been publicly debating this online for 5 years and I have yet to have one person send me a link or refer to a book that says, “Here is the actual experiment that proves random mutations drive evolution.”
There is no such paper or book, so far as I know. The random mutation theory, sadly, is an urban legend.
INTERESTING FACTOID: This same process of intelligent evolution is how your immune system learns to fight off germs it’s never seen before: It systematically tries different combinations and once it’s ‘cracked the code’ on the invading disease, it passes those changes onto daughter cells. Your own immune system is a miniature model for evolutionary biology.
Dr. James A. Shapiro of the University of Chicago is one of the leading researchers in this field. Let me share with you about what he’s discovered about protozoa.
What I’m about to pass along is profound, almost miraculous. I want you to read and re-read this a few times before you go on:
A cell under stress will splice its own DNA into over 100,000 pieces. Then a program senses hundreds of variables in its environment and then re-arranges those pieces to produce a new, better, evolved cell.
Again I ask you to re-read that short paragraph and really consider the significance of it. A protozoa re-programs its own DNA and evolves. Intelligently.
What if your computer were able to do… that???
Did you ever use a computer from the 1980’s? Remember Microsoft MS-DOS? Remember turning on your computer and seeing
Now imagine for a moment that DOS 1.0 was never modified by any Microsoft programmers. Imagine that after 1981 the boys in Redmond, Washington never touched DOS again.
Instead, by analyzing the programs it ran, by sensing changes in hardware, DOS “grew” new parts, all by itself. Imagine that it added icons and a mouse, automatically, and after a process of evolution, Windows emerged.
Imagine that after a time, Windows developed Internet Explorer – all by itself – just by adapting to the changing environment of the computer. By re-writing and re-arranging its own lines of code.
Imagine that it then developed networking features. Imagine that, sensing that it needed an email client, evolved Outlook Express. One day the Outlook icon was suddenly there on your desktop. You clicked on it and as you began to use it, it added and subtracted features to suit you.
Imagine that, sensing that it needed virus protection, that it adaptively developed defenses for those viruses.
Sometimes the viruses would take out some computers, but the computers that survived were even more resistant.
Imagine that the viruses also self-adapted and continued to try to worm their way in, in a never-ending competition of dueling codes.
Imagine that ALL of this adaptation happened over a period of years without a single software engineer ever touching it. Imagine this happening automatically just because it got installed on billions of computers.
Oh, I almost forgot: imagine that the very latest version of Windows could still fit on a single 750 megabyte CD-ROM.
If DOS 1.0 evolved into the Windows of today without any engineer touching it, would you say:
-That accidental file copying errors, culled by natural selection, were responsible for these evolutionary changes?
(When have you ever seen a software program or computer virus that accidentally evolved new features through a accidental copying errors?)
OR would you say…
-That the original engineer who wrote DOS 1.0 was so incredibly skilled that he actually devised a program that could self-adapt? That it could upgrade itself without downloading another friggin’ Service Pack?
If you met the engineer who wrote this, wouldn’t you want to ask him how he pulled off this amazing feat? Would you want his autograph?
Wouldn’t you want to ask him a ton of questions…
How did he lay it all out at the very beginning? What were the design priorities? How does the program sense changes in its environment? How does the program perform its computations? Does the program keep a database of unsuccessful mutations so it can avoid trying them again?
Well my friend, so far as we can tell, that’s exactly what DNA has done over the last 3.5 billion years. Instead of degrading and crashing like computer programs and hard drives, it has efficiently adapted and evolved from a single cell to occupy every ecological niche imaginable.
From the frozen ice sheets of the Antarctic to the punishing heat of the Sahara. From the ants under your kitchen sink to glorious singing birds in the Amazon rain forest.
This did not happen through accidental random mutation.
If life evolved from a single cell, this happened through an ingenious algorithm that engineers its own beneficial mutations.
This is an engineering feat of the most amazing proportions imaginable.
If evolution is true, then God is an even more ingenious programmer than the old-school creationists ever imagined Him to be.
This new theory has HUGE implications for the future discoveries of biology. It re-frames the entire evolution debate as a software engineering problem! We have all kinds of tools that can help.
In the next installment I’ll put my balls on the line and describe a half dozen predictions that this New Theory of Evolution makes. Predictions that will be either confirmed or overturned in the next 3-20 years.
Read more about this fascinating New Theory of Evolution:
Newsweek Magazine: “Was Darwin Wrong About Evolution?”
Technical Paper (college level, peer reviewed, clearly written, highly recommended): Shapiro’s “A 21st Century View of Evolution”