So nothing “possibly could stop” evolution from happening?

Sometimes I ask Google a question, and Yahoo! Answers often come up in the first page of results; here’s one such answer:

Once you learn your molecular biology, about how the things in a cell work, how cell replication works, how protein synthesis works you will understand that there is nothing that possibly could stop evolution from happening.

But if only this next quote could come up in the first page of search results instead:

Perhaps the most prominent example…is the hypothesis that mutation and natural selection produce continuous genetic improvement in a population of higher plants or animals. For the past 90 years, scientists in the field of population genetics have developed sophisticated mathematical models to describe and investigate these processes and how they affect the genetic makeup of populations of various categories of organisms. This work in turn, over a period of about a decade…led to the formulation of what is referred to as the neo-Darwinian synthesis or the modern evolutionary synthesis. This so-called modern synthesis integrated the concept of natural selection with Mendelian genetics to produce the unified theory of evolution that has been accepted by most professional biologists.

But does this theory of evolution, formulated essentially in its present form more than 60 years ago, truly deliver on its claims, especially in light of what we now know of how living systems work at the molecular level? The answer is an unequivocal no! In brief, the proteins that make up living systems require such a precise level of specification to be functional that a search based on random mutation can never succeed. It is complete scientific foolishness to claim otherwise. That is why there are no papers in the professional genetics literature that explicitly demonstrate this to be a reasonable possibility.

My two cents

A schematic representation of how antibiotic r...
A schematic representation of how antibiotic resistance is enhanced by natural selection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first quote sounds a bit ad hoc—as though evolution is the one absolute of existence, and seemingly nothing in the universe could ever stop it. It sounds like someone moving from (dispassionate) science to (biased and parochial) scientism.

The second quote does a better job of explaining the historical baggage behind the assertions in the first quote. (I also note a modern-day trope of appealing to mathematical models.) Key to this is how evolution is (consciously) ‘accepted’ by biologists (as an interpreted fact), instead of existing as a brute fact.

It’s hard for me to verify if the second quote’s reference to ‘an unequivocal no!’ is true—but things sound promising if it is.

Quote sources

  1. 4 minutes ago. (2010). Atheists, isn’t saying “nature did it” the same as saying “god did it” (see and actually read what’s below)?. Available: Last accessed 21st Nov 2013.
  2. Baumgardner, J. (2008). Exploring the Limitations of the Scientific Method. Available: Last accessed 21st Nov 2013.

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