Problems for Evolution with Natural Selection and Sexual Reproduction
The next issue I want to address is the problem of the evolution of Sexual Reproduction. I want to preface this post by stating that the following statements and thought grew out of a conversation I had with an Atheist I met on Twitter who goes by the Twitter name @almightygod. He also happens to be a fellow blogger here on WordPress, and you can find him and his blog at http://almightygod.wordpress.com/ Anyways, these statements and thoughts I am about to share grew out of contemplation and reflection on topics discussed during an email correspondence I had with this man, and I don’t actually know if any of these are valid objections (let alone whether they have been brought up by others), nor do I know if these objections have already been presented and refuted, or if they are original to me, and I want you to get involved and let me know in the comments what you think of my arguments, if you have heard them before, and if you know of any refutations to the following arguments (or if you have refutations yourself). I am really hoping to generate a lot of conversation on this topic, and I encourage you to post any thoughts or problems you have with any of my arguments. Anyways, lets get on to the topic at hand, the problems I see with the evolution of sexual reproduction.
What exactly is Natural selection? It is not some force with a will that chooses, it is a name given to a concept of how individual members of a species gets their genes into the next generation. It is not something that acts on anything, it is an explanation. natural selection is simply the idea that those members of a species that get more of their genes into the gene pool have a greater chance for their genes to survive and carry over into the next generation. Natural selection does not do anything, and therefore it would have no effect on the mutations in any way and therefore cannot add anything to those mutations. Natural selection is simply the idea that mutation A is a useful mutation, and therefore would be more advantageous for species X to have. If enough individual members of species X that have mutation A reproduce and pass along mutation A, then mutation A will have a greater chance of surviving into subsequent generations, and therefore become a normal part of species X. There are a few problems with this though.
First, mutations are not a good explanation for new info, because a mutation is usually only a denaturing of a protein, and therefore it is not a prime candidate for being a means of introducing new, useful information. Second, let us examine a hypothetical situation to see another problem for natural selection that involves sexual reproduction.
Let us assume that Brian works at State Farm Insurance Company, typing up risk-assessment reports on a computer all day. Brian happens to have been born with a few mutations. Let us say that the first mutation Brian has is that he has developed Chameleon-like eyes, which can look and pivot independent from each other. The second mutation Brian has developed is that of an extra set of functional arms. So, imagine Brian, who has four arms and two eyes that can look and focus on two different things at the same time. This would be very advantageous for a person working at State Farm typing up reports all day to have, as he could type up these reports on two different computers at the same time.
The problem, however, is that for these advantageous mutations to be passed on and make their way into the gene pool of the next generation, Brian has to find someone to mate with. This would not be an easy task for someone with big obnoxious chameleon eyes and two extra arms. This person would be looked upon as a freak (regardless of whether this prejudicial view of Brian is right or wrong), and he would have a harder time reproducing. In addition, there is no guarantee that these mutations in the genes of Brian are actually going to be passed on to his or her offspring. They could be passive mutations, meaning that more dominate traits (normal eyes, and only having two arms) could be passes along instead, or they could simply not be passed along at all. The problem is that these mutations have to be passed on to the next generation, and there is no guarantee that a mutated member of a species is a desirable mating partner for other members of a species, let alone that these mutations will be passed along to subsequent generations.
The point of this hypothetical situation is to show that just because a mutation is beneficial does not guarantee that such a mutation will be passed along to the next generation. It is possible that advantageous mutations would make a member of a species undesirable as mating partners for other members of that species, and as such, not prime candidates for passing along the mutation.
Another problem for genetic mutations to become a source for change from one species to another is the fact that practically all mutations will cause either harmful effects or no effect at all. During the email correspondence Dave stated that, “[n]atural selection is the process that scoops up this advantage and passes it to the next generation, while letting the harmful mutations die out.”
I have a few problems with this. First, as previously stated, natural selection is not a person that can do something, so it cannot decide to scoop up an advantageous mutation and assure that it makes it to the next generation, while letting the harmful mutations die out. Why should we assume that natural selection will carry on the beneficial mutations, but leave the harmful ones out? Natural selection has been described as a blind process, and as a blind process, without a person or personality behind it, it cannot care whether a mutation is beneficial or harmful. If a creature with a mutation, whether that mutation is harmful or beneficial, survives long enough to reproduce, then it will pass those genes along to the next generation. If, as Dave admits, the majority of these mutations are harmful or have no effect, then it is much more likely that the mutations being passed along into the next generation are harmful to the creature rather than beneficial. It is quite possible that several harmful mutations (which are more likely than beneficial mutations) are not going to be so disadvantageous as to cause a creature to die out before it has the chance to reproduce.
Even if one assumes that natural selection is the idea that all beneficial mutations will make it to the next generation (which is definitely not guaranteed) and that all harmful mutations will kill a creature before it can reproduce and pass its genes along to the next generation (which is also not guaranteed), all we are left with is a better-adapted version of the same species. This process of weeding out the harmful genes and perpetuating the beneficial ones may be true (though there is reason to doubt this), but it still does not bring us to the development of a new species because of such mutations. All that has been shown is that natural selection can aid a species in adapting to its environment, which in turn aids its ability to survive (micro-evolution), but this in no way brings us to the conclusion that natural selection can change or alter one species and cause it to become another (macro-evolution).
There are other problems I see for natural selection involving sexual reproduction. I don’t understand how a species or organism that reproduces asexually evolved into a species that reproduces sexually. It seems like this would require at least three highly miraculous mutations to take place simultaneously. First, you must have a “male” mutation and a “female” mutation simultaneously generate. At the same time these two such mutated versions of a particular species must also be sexually compatible with one another and they must have the ability to reproduce sexually with each other (meaning they must both be fertile). These highly unlikely mutations do not even begin to mention the fact that there must be a mutation that allows for sexual reproduction in the first place, and why should one believe that reproducing sexually benefits a species genes more than to asexually reproduce? Asexual reproduction just seems like an easier way to reproduce and pass along your genes, since you don’t need a mate who is compatible and able to sexually reproduce. If as Richard Dawkins says in The Selfish Gene, “They [our genes] are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rational for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines”1 why would they desire to develop sexual reproduction in the first place? Why not simply continue to perpetuate yourself through asexual reproduction, rather than risk dying out due to lack of a suitable partner? I understand that sexual reproduction creates more variation, which in turn creates more mutation, and therefore more species, but why should genes care of such things, if they care or think at all? It seems to me that Richard is anthropomorphizing genes and ascribing them human attributes.
In addition, there is a problem with a non-sexual organism developing sexual reproduction capabilities. There are several organs necessary for sexual reproduction, and a simple mutation is not going to alter an organism in such a way that it develops all of these organs at once if mutation even has the ability to develop such organs (independently or otherwise) in the first place. If it does not gain all such organs at once, then the creature has mutated a useless organ that is not beneficial or functional in any way without the other sexual organs. As previously stated, you also need two organisms that simultaneously develop sexual organs that are not only functional, but they must also be compatible.
Yet another problem I have with the idea of macro-evolution is the idea of life coming into existence from non-life (an issue I deal with in detail in another post on my blog from October 2011 entitled Evolution and the Origin of Life). Even if you somehow can explain how everything in the universe came into being out of nothing without a creator, you still have the insanely difficult (if not completely impossible) task of showing how life can come from non-life without a creator. Many have undertaken the task of attempting to prove how this can be done, and every single one of them has failed so far.
These are just a few of the problems I have seen with the theory of Evolution, that is, at least the macro evolutionary aspects of it. Micro evolution is a proven fact, but macro evolution still has many many problems facing it. As always, please feel free to leave your comments, questions and objections below in the Comments section.
1. Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) 24.