Examining Hornets, Carefully: Darwinism and its Bugs

Evolution is the political correctness of science, the one scientific theory that cannot be questioned. Biologists can lose their jobs for doubting it. Droning nature shows on television inculcate from our birth its certainty. we are assured that only snake-handling primitive cristians disbelieve, that all scientists affirm it, which they don’t. Most who wonder have the good sense to shut up about it.

}the many clandestine apostates raise multitudinous questions, of which in a later column, but the greatest and most accessible doubt is called irreducible complexity.  }the faithful avoid this matter with irrepressible obduracy. but let us ponder it.

Before considering examples of IC, let us make sure we understand the principle of gradualism, the bedrock of Darwinian theory.

Supposedly, new biological features come about by the gradual accretion of slight modifications due to mutations that are beneficial to the organism or, perhaps, at least neutral. Evolutionists agree that most mutations are harmful and die out quickly but, they say,  from time to time a favorable mutation occurs, and increases the fitness of the organism, as for example by increasing muscular strength or resistance to disease. This gives the possessor a higher chance of surviving, reproducing, and passing on the new and beneficial trait. The next mutation furthers the process, gradually leading to an increasingly fit organism. This at any rate is the theory.

The likelihood of this accounting for the increase of  qualities like strength depends on such elements of population genetics as mutation rates, population size,  rate of reproduction, and number of sequential favorable mutations needed to produce the feature. The first and last are seldom known. However, that a series of beneficial mutations must occur is agreed.

Irreducible complexity refers to the observation that a great many features occur in nature that cannot have evolved gradually because many parts would have to appear simultaneously, the entire system being useless if any element is missing.

Darwin himself foresaw this possibility, saying, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find no such case.” (The Origin of Species)

In this he was more honest than his followers. In fact many such examples can be found. We will examine several throughout this monograph, but start, carefully,  with a hornet.

The Hornet’s Sting

Perhaps the clearest example of irreducible complexity is the stinging system of the hornet. This consists of several distinct parts: (1) a biochemical mechanism to produce the venom, (2) a sac to hold it, (3) muscles to express the venom through the stinger, (4) the stinger itself, (5) muscles to force the stinger into the victim, (6) nerves to control both sets of muscles, (7) muscles to retract the stinger if it is to be used more than once, and (8) the instinct to use the sting. These must exist simultaneously and function in coordination in order to work. Absent any one, the system is useless.

The question for the Darwinist is how the system can have evolved gradually. The answer is that it cannot have: All components would have to have appeared at once, which is impossible by gradual accretion of mutations.  (We will hear ignore the additional observation that the various parts themselves cannot be the result of single mutations. One mutation, meaning an accidental change in DNA, cannot produce a long, perfectly “machined” hollow tube precisely integrated into the venom sac and attached to the necessary muscles, which themselves would require multiple mutations.)

Nature-show evolutionists sometimes argue that the stinging system evolved from the ovipositor of other insects. The evidence offered for this is that both stinger and ovipositor are tubes used for depositing something somewhere, and both exist only in females. This makes no sense for the same reason of requiring multiple simultaneous mutations, some to produce the venom, others to produce its sac, others to attach the sac to the ovipositor. At this point the insect could not lay eggs as it would have a stinger but no ovipositor, and so would need a simultaneously appearing alternative means of reproducing. People offering this “explanation” are engaging in liberal-arts evolutionism, regarding Darwinism as a vague force for improvement while ignoring practical impossibility.

The whole argument over the completeness of Darwinian evolution rests on the foregoing case of the sting.  Hundreds of books, hundreds of thousands of pages and articles have been written  on evolution, full of passion, politics, weasel-wording, religious babble, smokescreening and forty-weight righteousness. The sting however is the perfect test case. What some judge says, or this or that Biblical whatever, or dozens of infuriated biologist or lawyers is irrelevant. If the advocates of evolution can explain the evolution of the sting by gradual accretion of slight steps, then it will be reasonable to suspect  that all instances of irreducible complexity can be explained. If they cannot so explain, then Darwinism fails or is at least incomplete. The question is that simple, embodying no argumentative sleight of hand or esoteric knowledge. If you know a Darwinist, preferably an evolutionary biologist, ask him for his explanation.

Don’t let him change the subject or dance away from the question. If my considerable experience is a guide he is likely to begin denouncing evangelical Christians or dive into, “Alas, poor Fred, poor silly fellow.” Or he may say that irreducible complexity has been debunked. What he will not do, I promise, is give a specific answer to the specific question of the hornet. Try it.

Whether the sting evolved is a question of fact: It did, or it didn’t. If it did not evolve, how in fact it came about is a matter of speculation. Knowing how something didn’t happen doesn’t require knowing how it did happen. I am quite sure that my fourteen-month old granddaughter did not kill Jimmy Hoffa. The certainty does not obligate me to know who, if anyone, did kill him.

A suggestion that drives believing Darwinists into frothing fury is that the hornet may have been designed. If it did not evolve, and looks designed, they say, then maybe it was designed. Yes, maybe. But also, maybe not. A third possibility is that the hornet, and for that matter everything else, arose by means that we haven’t thought of, and perhaps cannot think of. One reason for fealty to Uncle Chuck is that the theory, like religions, provides a comforting sense of understanding origin and destiny. People do not react well to suggestions that this security blanket is false.

(My personal belief is that the Great Pilot of the Cargo Cult, of which I am an adherent, ejected the universe from the cargo space of a holy C-130. }this makes as much sense as any religion, and I like airplanes.)

Countless examples of irreducible complexity exist, easily discoverable by asking by what gradual steps a feature can have come about. For example, skunks defend themselves by ejecting at predators noisome gunch from specialized anal glands. Starting from a proto-skunk, how could this mechanism have evolved by gradual steps? Did our skunk-to-be have  digestive problems leading to chronic flatulence that discouraged fastidious carnivores? The chemical mechanism producing the gunch, the glands to hold it, the muscles to expel it, and the instinct to do so have to be simultaneously present. This lacks the crystalline clarity of the example of the hornet, but is  hard to explain.

For the interested reader the following examples of irreducible complexity may be of interest. However, some of these, such as metamorphosis in insects, offer scope for desperate couldamaybe arguments of sufficient vagueness to blur the issue. The hornet’s armament is the gold standard. If the Darwinist cannot answer this, the debate is over.

Consider the horn of the rhinoceros, which, a Darwinian would say,  evolved to protect the beast from predators. Note the commingling of two distinct ideas, first that the horn protects the rhiho, which is  obvious, and second that it evolved, which it cannot have. We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in the Darwinian gospel that we assume that anything serving a purpose must have evolved to serve that purpose  (“evolved to….: always the language of purpose)

Even to a layman, even at the macro level the horn’s evolution makes no sense.  The horn is made of keratin, the protein of hair and skin, not of bone. This seems to imply that the horn must have formed from congealed hair. This would require (excuse the flip tone, but it has the virtue of being compact) a Hair Sticke’m Together mutation, assuming that one mutation would suffice. But why on the forehead and not all over, or on the left hind leg? So now we need a highly specific Hair Sicke’m Together Laterally Centered on Forehead mutation. Presumably we would then have a clump of clotted hair of no use whatever to the semi-rhino. Next, a Stuck Hair Grow Like Crazy mutation, since the thing would be of no value until long enough to poke lions. Then we need another mutation to give it a perfectly ovoid shape, not an obvious measure for survival, and then a Grow Faster In Middle mutation, to give the aborning horn a point. Presumably there is a Don’t Grow Too Much mutation to keep from growing and growing and turning the rhino into a unicorn.

Since Darwinian evolution works through the accumulation of many small beneficial changes, each of which must favor survival, there should be intermediate fossils in different states of hornization. I can find nothing online about these intermediates, I strongly doubt that there are any but, should they exist, they would establish the fact of the horn’s evolution, though not the mechanism. (Remember, it is the mechanism that the thousand scientists specifically doubt.)

To show that the horn might have evolved through the accumulation of mutations, would it not be necessary to show which and how many genes code for the horn? And thus how many mutations and which? If, reuctio ad absurdem, one mutation could do it, then the nutational theory would be plausible. If a hundred and fifty mutations were necessary, it would be mathematically infeasible. And of course each of these mutations would have to be beneficial enough to become fixed in the population. Good luck.

}then there is the Bot fly, a squat, ugly, hairy fly that catches a mosquito, lays its eggs on said mosquito after positioning it correctly, and attaches them with a kind of glue that it just happens to have at and. It releases the mosquito. When the little feathery syringe lands on, say, a human, the eggs drop off, hatch, and burrow into the host. These make nasty raised lumps with something wiggling inside. Later they exit, fall to the ground, and pupate.

How did this evolve? Did a grab-a-mosquito gene occur as a random mutation (assuming that a single mutation could cause such complex behavior)? It would have to be a grab-a-mosquito-but-don’t-cripple-it gene. That is an awful lot of precise behavior for one mutation. At this point the bot fly would have a mosquito but no idea what to do with it. It would need simultaneously to have a stick-eggs-on-mosquito mutation. This would seem to require another rather ambitious gene.

Catching the mosquito without laying the eggs, or squashing the mosquito in the process, or laying eggs in mid air without having caught the mosquito, would seem losing propositions. Yet further, the glue mechanism for making the eggs drop off onto the host instead of before or not at all, would also have to be present, caused by yet another complex simultaneous mutation. None of these awfully-lucky mutations would be of use without the others. How do you evolve this elaborate dance by gradual steps?

Metamorphosis in insectss: You Can’t Get There from Here. Straight-line evolution, for example in which Eohippus gradually gets larger until it reaches Clydesdale, is plausible because each intervening step is a viable animal. In fact this is just selective breeding. Yet many evolutionary transformations seem to require intermediate stages that could not survive. Metamorphosis in insects is perhaps the most baffling example.

Consider. There are two kinds of insect, two-cycle and four-cycle. Two cycle bugs lay eggs that hatch into tiny replicas of the adults, which grow, lay eggs, and repeat the cycle. The four-cycle bugs go through egg, larva, pupa, adult. Question: What are the viable steps needed to evolve from two-cycle to four-cycle? Or from anything to four-cycle?

Let us consider this question carefully.

We begin with a two-cycle bug, that for convenience we will call a roach, which will endeavor to evolve into a bug that, also for convenience, we will assume to be a butterfly. The roach has the insect’s standard body plan of head, thorax, and abdomen, and the usual chitinous exoskeleton. From a spirit of charity we will assume that it is a flying roach to give it a head start toward butterflyhood.

To achieve that exalted end, our roach would first have to evolve into a caterpillar–that is, a larval form. It is difficult to see how this could occur at all, or why. To become a caterpillar, our roach would have to lose its jointed legs, exoskeleton, and body plan. Since not even the most hopeful evolutionist could attribute such sweeping changes to one mutation, the transformation would have to proceed by steps involving at least several and probably many mutations. Losing the exoskeleton would leave it unarmored and unable to walk, not an obvious selective advantage. Or do we believe that head, thorax, and abdomen first merged mediated by a long chain of accidental mutations under mysterious selective pressures , and then it lost its exoskeleton and became, well– bait?

But if these things did happen, they would lead to a free-standing race of caterpillars, a new species, necessarily being able to reproduce. Then, for reasons mysterious to me, these would have to decide to pupate and become butterflies. And the butterfly would have to lay eggs that became caterpillars.

Which could not possibly work. Metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is enormously complex and if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s curtains. It would depend on a great many steps which would have to appear simultaneously. , but never mind. Unless it wanted to pupate in the all-together, it would need to make a cocoon, in which it would proceed to die because it hadn’t yet evolved metamorphosis. Why a caterpillar would think of doing this is not clear. To turn successfully into a butterfly, it would need the biochemical machinery to transform a mushy, legless, wingless, head-thorax-abdomenless worm into an utterly different creature. Where would it have gotten the impossibly complex genetic blueprint of the butterfly?

Methinks something is going on that we do not understand.


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Comments 9

  • Not understanding should lead to investigation, study, observation and consideration, then theories, testing, challenging, proving and more cycles of the same. But today we are much smarter and we can leap to theory, assumptions of truth and then censoring those who disagree. Much faster and easier to monetize and become famous.

  • The ovipositor is a tube through which females lay eggs. It likely evolved as the stinger, because male bees and hornets cannot sting — they don’t have stingers, but females do. If you consider how hornets and bees lay eggs, you’ll see that they have redundant components, such as multiple egg tubes, called ovarioles, to lay eggs. Many insects have dozens of ovarioles. Unlike us, they have to produce many eggs, pushing them through at the same time. How do they push those eggs out? Through muscle contractions controlled by an excitatory mediator like the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in hornets. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter to control muscle contractions. By coincidence, or evolution, this same acetylcholine is the substance that produces the pain in a hornet sting. Insects often have to push those eggs into the ground, to protects them. That is how the sharpness of the stinger likely arose.

    So the evolutionary jump from ovipositor to stinger, which seems like a big jump, is actually a small evolutionary jump. It merely used a redundant ovipositor used for egg laying. It used as a venom, the neurotransmitter that controls that egg pushing. It used the sharp ovipositor that pushes eggs into the ground to penetrate the skin of animals.

  • Calling into question a scientific theory is a fundamental tenet of actual science. But the act of questioning a theory requires the person attempting to debunk said theory to provide an alternate theory that is at least as feasible, logical and as supported by evidence as the theory being questioned. Otherwise all that is happening is gain saying for the mere same of denial.

    To date science has only Evolution as a theory to explain life as we see it. No other feasible explanation has been postulated. Whether life originated on this planet or arrived here from
    some other planet or place is a reasonable question deserving investigation . But there is no other theory besides evolution.

    Claims for Creationism are well and good….if you have a mindset that favors fairy tale over fact.
    But for the existence of a deity that created everything to be a feasible theory requires…no DEMANDS, that said deity provide irrefutable proof of existence. And even if such proof of existence existed….which it doesn’t…the question of where did the deity come from would exist. Did he evolve?

    We may never know the origin of life beyond postulating possiblities. But denying the best available theory without providing a reasonable alternative supported by evidence is not science. It’s ego.

  • I have read several of Freds articles expressing skepticism on the theory of evolution.
    I have responded to them, but Fred has not engaged in any discussion with me.

  • Yes. I’d add that for animals producing young through male/female sexual DNA combination:
    A) the mutation must not interfere with genetic survivability and
    B) mutations must either occur in both parents simultaneously, or be selected from the mutated parent, significantly lowering odds of “latching” the mutation
    Vox Day does a good line in calculating the statistical odds over the available period and it doesn’t come out well for Darwin

  • People believe (an act of faith)in evolution not because of evidence(there is none)but because they can’t stand the alternative. End of story

  • Thank you Fred. Very much. The creation, in its complexity alone, is telling us as clearly as if it spoke that there is a Creator. The “world”, the current wicked system of things on the earth, is desperate that we should not see that, and not see what Genesis is so clearly telling us. Yet if Genesis is the true history of us, as its writers claim, then isn’t the rescue it promises also sure to come about, and the lost paradise will be restored earthwide?

    Then, and only then, can the meek (those meek towards their Creator, Jehovah, those who listen to him) inherit “the earth” and live forever upon it.

    According to the Inspired Scriptures, there is more happiness ahead for us, right here on the earth, than we can now imagine. I hope we will be there to experience it.

  • Anyone with more than a passing understanding of science recognises there are things science can’t explain. Many of them believe in a higher power or deity.

    Contrast to those who push Scientism, the view that science and the scientific method are the best or only way to render truth about the world and reality. They are truly lost souls.

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