Natural Selection and Mutation

Author Melinda Penner Published on 10/01/2013

Someone brought this video to our attention and asked what our response is. It’s a nicely made video, but the argument is so flawed the response seems simplistic.

The video purports to show how evolution explains where the variety of life comes from. The picture shows a variety of species, which is supposedly what is explained. But the explanation only shows us where the variety within a species comes from. Apparently we’re supposed to leap from the variation of finches to common descent. But the explanation doesn’t explain that.

The power of natural selection to explain the variety of life actually has little support, as David Berlinski points out here in his review of a study on natural selection:

[I]t comes as something of a surprise to learn that despite very long-standing claims by evolutionary biologists to have established the robust viability of natural selection as a biological force, the overwhelming number of such studies have been conducted only in the past fifteen years...

Considering the fundamental role of both linear and quadratic selection in population genetics and in popular accounts of Darwin’s theory, one of those “unresolved” issues may well be whether natural selection exists to any appreciable extent, and if it does, whether it plays any real role in biological change altogether.

It’s surprising to me that the video relies on the Galapagos finches as proof because it’s been pointed out a multitude of times that the finches fall far short as proof of general evolution. Dr. Phillip Johnson explains:

The claim that evolutionary science has discovered and verified a mechanism which can account for the origin of biological information and complexity by involving only natural (unintelligent) causes is supported by an immense extrapolation from limited evidence of minor, cyclical variations in fundamentally stable species.

Natural selection is at work in nature, and mutations are, too. But the two provide only an explanation of variety in species, not the wide variety of many species.