Evolution's "Maginot" Faith Needs Correction

Background, The Problem, Proposed Solutions

Synopsis: France was quickly overrun by Germany in World War II partly due to a blind insistence on the impregnability of the so-called "Maginot Line" of defense fortifications. Every nation, every discipline, periodically suffers from like-intransigence. Example: Religions today, due to dogmatic refusal to admit error, suffer mass defection/apathy/hostility. Evolution, too, needs non-religious revaluation, lest it become an ossified "Maginot Line" for science, blind to error.

I. Introduction

Evolution, like religion, is a family of theories on the origins of life and the nature of (i.e., man's) existence. Like religion, evolution observes and draws conclusions from these observations. In the case of evolution, the possibility of the existence of deity is not considered. "Pure" scientific inquiry does not deny, assert, prove, or disprove anything outside the realm of its inquiry (i.e., deity).

Any theory has three parts to it: premise, data, conclusion; these three must be united in a non-contradictory way (i.e., logically). To be valid, a theory must not be contradicted. If contradictions arise, the theory would need to be modified or discarded in favor of a revised theory which resolves the contradictions. So, to derive a theory properly, one must be careful not to exclude data which might contradict the desired results, lest the theory become tautological, and thus valueless. On such principles is science based.

Evolution seeks to exclude religious explanations on the grounds that religious explanations cannot be empirically proven via some laboratory-like test, to obviate subjectivity. Such a criterion makes sense, for if a thing is true, ideally that truth will be demonstrable apart from human bias.

Therefore, any contradiction-clues offered by looking "underneath" the rhetoric of religion go unexamined.

Do evolution's theories live up to the standard of being demonstrably true apart from human bias? The answer is "no". This "no" does NOT mean the theory should be discarded, denied exposure/teaching within a school's curriculum, or mocked. However, it does mean that those who believe evolution is a correct theory need to do a lot more work.

II. The Evolution Construct and its own origins

First, let's review what "evolution" is regarded to mean. What, in essence, is the theory of evolution? It is a claim that the observed similarities in nature are causally-linked such that the more "primitive" life forms of similar structure mutated into "more-advanced" forms over long periods of time. This long process is called "transmutation", and is the heart of evolutionary theory.

"Evolution" is really a group of competing transmutational theories, not just one.

A. Some proponents maintain this causal linkage starts with inanimate matter, and the interaction of matter and energy gradually gave rise to what we would call the most-primitive life forms (e.g., the amoeba). Further interaction followed the same patterns, mutating into more-advanced life forms, albeit not universally, such that the variety of life forms seen (for example today) arose, over long periods of geologic time.

Perhaps the reason for this rise in differentiation of life forms was due to some cataclysmic events (meteors, radiation, heat, chemical processes, earthquakes) which affected only some of the primitive life forms; so that they were changed while those not so affected remained unchanged. Or, perhaps the environment, itself affected by these developing life forms, gradually changed in a non-uniform manner, such that some of these forms adapted to survive; whereas, the others did not (did not need to adapt), or could not (died out). Thus, man could eventually evolve, but the less-primitive forms of life would continue to exist.

B. Other proponents hold to the idea of transmutation, but circumscribe its origins and scope. For example, some hold that the most primitive life-forms were there at the beginning (did NOT evolve from the random inanimate combinations of matter and energy), so their evolution was from simple-life-form to more-complex-life-form.

C. Still others would restrict "evolution" to certain groups of life forms and call any change in the others, "adaptation".* For example, certain one-celled organisms adapted or  evolved into flora, but never fauna. So, flora never evolves into fauna, and vice versa.

There are other variations in the evolution group, but these three help illustrate what "evolution" means, generally.

Again, "evolution" is a conclusion that certain observed similarities in nature are causally-linked, such that the more "primitive" life forms of similar structure mutated into some more-advanced forms over long periods of geologic time.

Evolution as a theory is mistakenly regarded as a recent discovery, made popular by Charles Erasmus Darwin's Origin of the Species. In fact, the theory of evolution is as old as the theories of religion, and is an offshoot of them. Some metempsychosic (aka "reincarnation") religions related to animism, in which "life" is an impersonal force and so "god" is the sum of this force, these religions are all evolutionary. Like the group of evolution theories, the metempsychosic religions likewise vary by what is deemed the starting point of the transmutation. Their idea of a "soul" is really life going on, changing material form or inhabiting existing material forms. Some versions ascribe god-ness as the sum total of this life force, so everyone has some of "god" in the self ("self" includes plants, bugs, not merely rational beings). Other versions ascribe god-ness as one vast Person-ness, but again all the "souls" are bits of (as it were) this vast Person-ness.

So, evolution first differs from these reincarnation religions in that it does not assign a godlike title (be it force, or Personhood) to the life-source. Second, these religions focus on the development/evolution of the "soul" (synonym for life) over the long millennia of corporate existence. Evolution's focus is on the development of the outward matter observed as being "alive", again over the long millennia. Third, evolution does not separate "life" from matter, but rather deems matter and energy two sides of the same coin of being-ness: the one gradually or quickly recycles into the other along some spectrum, at the one end of which is "pure" matter, and at the other end of which is "pure" energy. The latter is what those reincarnation religions would call the "soul" or "god-ness", and life is basically a cycle (or struggle) between material and immaterial existence.

Thus we know that mankind has been observing the similarities in nature and concluding a causal linkage of an evolutionary nature for thousands of years, not merely the last two centuries. It is surprising that the current definition of evolution, then, is so narrow.

*"Adaptation" used to mean that a life form might change radically, but not so much as to become a new species. Evolution, by contrast, stipulates a transmutation into a new species, in a generally upward trend over the millennia, from simple life forms, to complex.

III. The Problem

There can be no doubt that these similarities exist. Further, we do know that life-forms change in amazing ways to (at least) adapt to sudden or gradual changes in the environment. The question is, what is the true range of these changes? Does all life possess within it a common DNA-like code (analogously), which is so vast it triggers transmutation? Or, is there some external force which imposes such a range of change upon the organism? Or, some other cause(s)?

Obviously the way we define what constitutes "transmutation" will impact our conclusions from the data. "Transmutation" depends upon the following definitions' INTERLOCKING accuracy:

"Life", "Species", "Mutation", "Transmutation".

To the extent there is subjectivity in any of these interlocking definitions, empirical experiments and observations will be inconclusive. Which, of course, they are. In what follows, we'll see that each definition creates tautologies, just as religions' definitions are so often accused of doing.

"Life" is basically defined as that which "breathes" in some manner and is capable of reproducing itself (or being propagated; individual sterilities need not invalidate the criteria). These things are observed, so are called "life". The idea that there might be more to the property of life which is not deemed observable is excluded; so the idea that what we see might be due to what we cannot see, that we see the unobservable through its effects on the observable, is likewise excluded.

For example, the idea that the atomic structures we see are the only types of atomic structures there are, hinders inquiry. Granted, science must operate based upon the knowledge it has; must such a limitation preclude the existence of other structures, which by our current standards are considered "immaterial"? Of course not. Science hasn't yet discovered any alternate atomic structures, because its tools are geared to the current structures we think we know. Therefore the teaching on the subject should make that fact clear, rather than tautolgically assuming what-we-see-is-all-there-is.

Next, to say that "life" must be propagatable is one part of its definition for many forms of life, but need not be a criterion for all forms. The reproducibility requirement is of course long-debated. It was established to be able to categorize the obvious (rocks don't "live", etc). So, if there is life which doesn't die, science doesn't include it in the definition of "life", either. Again, it is hampered by a paucity of test mechanisms for such possible forms. This also should be disclosed, lest inquiry be hindered into how testing mechanisms might be created.

We have here three potential contradictions to the evolutionary idea of life: 1) that some types of "life" may consist of characteristics we think we do not (or cannot) observe with current instruments; 2) that life of (supposedly) unobservable nature creates/affects life in observable ways; 3) that some types of "life" may be never-ending and observable. Moreover, we say our testing mechanisms preclude conclusions on these three potential facts. Thus, our "results" are tautological. Clearly the premise of what constitutes life needs serious reconsideration.

Sadly, as it stands, any "life" which doesn't meet evolution's criteria are excluded from the definition of "life". Worse, only evolution's definitions are presented in classrooms as "the truth". This criticism is not to say religious ideas ought to be taught in the classroom. Rather, the criticism is that science stultifies its future practitioners' "universe" of scientific inquiry: because we don't treat evolution's definitions as tentative, we propagandize. We craft definitions tautologically to fit the expected data, which we of course "find", rather than base our definitions logically upon all the data there might be. What would be wrong with teaching "here's how much we think we can explain life", rather than "we evolved"?

"Species" likewise suffers from tautology. Were the classifications of "species" different, "transmutation" might instead be "adaptation". Or, the opposite, transmutations which are occurring might be improperly classified as "adaptations".

This problem is well-known. So, there have been many attempts to reclassify, and many debates about where a given species belongs: how much of a difference should be used as the crossover point (to a different species)?

Again, the reproducibility factor tends to be the dividing line of what is deemed a "species". If life "A" cannot mate with life "B", or cannot produce nonsterile offspring, "A" and "B" are deemed separate species. It's an understandable dividing line, but it is also tautological. This dividing line may mask a contradiction in the data: 1) certain conditions under which life forms non-routinely reproduce with deemed-incompatible forms. So, perhaps they are indeed of the same species, but not capable of routine reproduction. 2) Alternatively, perhaps certain external conditions create abilities to reproduce which did not before exist, conditions which "tap" some latent genes within the organism and make them create the reproductive capacity.

Since "species" are divided by like-power-to-reproduce, if these two types of reproduction likewise exist, then "species" which have been separated might need to be joined. So, these two possibilities could be "unmasked" by a reassessment of existing data and/or the "species" classification. So a transmutation of "species" would need revaluation.

Thus, experiments which seem to indicate transmutation in plants or lower life forms may merely be adaptation; in which case, the change is within such a species, whose definition needs revision. Yet such possibilities, instead of receiving critical attention, are propounded as empirical proof that evolution is true. "Reproduction" capabilities go insufficiently tested. So, the definition of "species" in these supposed proofs is insufficiently reconsidered.

"Mutation/Transmutation" does not fare much better. "Mutation" as a term tends to focus on some extrinsic cause radical enough (even though the result may gradually proceed) to develop the species in some hitherto-unnatural direction. "Transmutation" means this development has become so vast that the species in question can no longer produce offspring with less- or non-mutated relatives. The cause must be abnormal, and the change it effectuates must be permanent (i.e, creative of an offshoot, but reproductively-incompatible, species).

Thus we have our first "transmutation" tautology: the assumption that this change is a result solely due to some unnatural cause, versus something natural (yet perhaps latent) within the denominated species as a whole. Unnaturalness is needed to justify how some segment of a species breaks off, as it were, and becomes so radically different that it cannot mate with its formerly-compatible relatives.

So, if the mutation is not unnatural, we may be looking at adaptation or degeneration rather than evolution, even if (for example) members of what was once an intra-procreatible species have so differentiated as to preclude fertile offspring from those not so differentiated.

Again, active or latent powers of reproduction, and their "triggers" may expose contradictions. In the "species" reproduction question, the issue was how "species" might be incorrectly classified by ignoring non-routine or special  reproductivity: here, we shift to scope-of-change in reproduction, rather than frequency.

It's not as though we lack data to expose this possible contradiction to "transmutation". We already know that when a species adapts to its environment sufficient to produce some trait which serves the species, it may limit itself to those within the species having that same trait, in order to preserve the trait. So, either the reproductive power "shuts off" those without the trait, or mating-choices are suddenly exclusive to it. What we don't know is the scope of this limitation, nor do we know the scope of the effects.

Of course, "environment" might be biological, not merely extrinsic. For example, a species may be under- or over- reproducing, and such a trait's development compensates for the problem. Indeed, even some of the pathologies in various life forms have been concluded to exist for the macro-level sake of population control/improvement.

So, we might be looking again at an error of human bias in classification. How many of these massive changes in reproducibility are incorrectly deemed "transmutation"?

The second tautology (due to human bias) in "transmutation" is this: once some "unnatural" variable(s) is posited to explain the cause, the allowed universe of deemed-causes is illogically restricted.

To explain this tautology requires an example. It is presumed, based upon skeletal evidence, that the so-called "Neanderthal Man" was in fact human, and his co-existence on earth with "Cro-Magnon Man" illustrates a split with overlapping developments. The split is deemed to occur by various hypotheses concerning environmental changes. The idea that maybe "Neanderthal Man" was really another form of ape-primate, and the origin of "Cro-Magnon Man" might be wholly different, is excluded from consideration.

Moreover, we are assuming that the skeletal remains we have of both types are indeed representations of whole groups of hominids. We don't have a statistically-significant amount of remains; we don't have a statistically-significant set of cultural links to these remains. Nonetheless, evolution assumes that what we have is representative of vast populations in the past. Thus, it illogically excludes the idea that a causal link may not exist (i.e., between the two types of "man").

Moreover, even if both types prove(d) to be "man", other explanations for the same data go unexamined. Suppose "Neanderthal Man" is a hominid, but aberrative, or an adaptation downward? 'Previously civilized, which suffers (maybe macro) mental degeneration? We know man can retrograde en masse. How far might negative adaptation extend, both mentally and physically? Psychiatrists observe that strong mental states cause astounding physical changes. What about a "strong" bestial mentality? Of course, larger populations of remains (etc.) would be needed, to know more of what is normative, and what is aberrative. 'Point is, these possibilities are brushed aside.

In short, the idea that an "unnatural" variable might itself be of some other material (i.e., bio-mental) nature, or of even an immaterial nature, is likewise excluded. Instead, "unnatural" is presumed (never proven) to be a particular data set of possible causes.

So if the true unnatural cause(s) is due to variables outside of the allowed data set, we may not be looking at "evolution", either. The alleged progenitor might be wholly unrelated to the deemed transmuted progeny, or the deemed-progeny might instead  be a progenitor.

A third tautology is the idea that simple life transmutably "advances" to become complex. How do we know that is evolution? Is a being more advanced because it can do more, or is it more advanced because it is simple?

The data contradiction here should be obvious. Natural selection has not obliterated the simple and the weak; on the contrary, the weak persist and always outnumber the strong. The simpler forms of life likewise persist and often destroy the strong. Today's mathematics and physics propound a similarly-contradictive state: the universe is expanding, yet hastening to its "end".

Granted, the theories of evolution do account for the persistence of varied life-forms. However, is the evolutionary accounting of change truly one of "transmutation", or are we looking at mega-adaptation? What if the "few strong" in a society of a deemed-species are there to serve the needs of the "many weak", rather than the other way around? This "many weak, few strong" persistency isn't what "survival of the fittest" should produce. So maybe the purpose of natural selection isn't really the survival of the fittest -- maybe it is the protection of the weak. Whatever the purpose, "advance" via "transmutation" is contraindicated. In short, the data might better depict other, nonevolutionary theories. Of course, such theories, if proven, might thus point back to and validate evolution in a different way. 'Point is, the contradiction goes unheeded in the evolutionary idea of "advance" via "transmutation".

To sum up, we have three arguable contradictions to the evolutionary idea of "transmutation":

    1) that a species' reproductive "triggers" might account for a much greater scope of change, which has thus far been mislabelled evolutionary, or "transmutation";

    2) that "unnatural" factors beyond the scope of evolution's (illogically-narrow) view might prove that what was mislabelled "transmutation" is really a) bigger-adaptational advance, or degeneration; and/or b) change without progenitors;

    3) that what is deemed "advance" might be neither "advance", nor "transmutation".

Clearly such contradictions indicate the premise of "transmutation" needs serious reconsideration. As it stands, "transmutation" is tautologically-defined.

The foregoing examination of evolution's basic definitions ("life", "species", "mutation"/ "transmutation") but partially accounts why fundamental definitions in evolutionary theory are formed based upon tautological criteria: so of course they "prove" true. Next, the relationships between the observations are assumed  based upon these definitions, and assumed  proven due to the existence of plausible causes -- which is allright, so long as everyone knows how tenuous such constructs are. Unfortunately, no warning label accompanies these constructs, so the hearer is given this "theory" as truth. In this, evolution is as guilty as those who so cast their particular religion.

None of the foregoing eliminates evolution as being possibly true. It does, however, show how those who would be its proponents have no stronger a claim to truth than religion might have. So, much more work on the theory needs to be done; meanwhile, evolution MIGHT be true, but thus far is not proven so. That is the proper perspective for anyone who would call himself "scientific" or "logical".

Indeed, the problem of treating evolution as fact is more prevalent among pseudo-scientists and would-be intellectuals who both wish to avoid the "taint" of what they consider (illogical) faith; scientists who daily work in their specialties are often much less certain. Unfortunately, for the sake of science, it becomes imperative to communicate this uncertainty better, lest science suffer the same stultifying fate as religion, which has become so entrenched in past dogmas, it cannot admit of error. Science cannot survive a Maginot-line mentality among the citizenry. I submit this line has already begun to form.

IV. Towards a Solution

Science might resolve such problems by testing competing theories/hypotheses. Here are three:

A. The species adapt, but do not transmute. The similarities between species are just that: similarities. The above-noted problems in the definition of "life" would not be resolved by this hypothesis, even if it were proven true. However, the problems noted with the definition of "species" might be (at least partly) resolved. One can run the current species-classifications through what-if permutations of reclassification. The long-running species debate would have a new motive, to see if there is a classification of life which exposes this alternative as accurate. In which case, the problem has been that of man's incorrect classification of the data. Finally, such what-if scenarios would perhaps help to resolve better what truly constitutes "transmutation".

B. New "species" arise due to: 1) natural hybridization mechanisms within sufficiently-compatible species; 2) unnatural causes; or 3) some combination of the two. This variation "B" thus admits of a greater role in the innate propagation mechanisms of each species than has been heretofore recognized; and much of what has been called "evolution", would instead be the triggering of these mechanisms. So it may help resolve the above-noted problems in the definitions of "species" and "transmutation". Again, the "life" definition problems would not likely be resolved much via pursuit of this "B" hypothesis.

"B" includes both species extinction, and the rise of new ones, as being explained by (for example) environmental changes, or by intra-population changes (inbreeding, disease, changes due to over-/under- population). Again, the focus is on change which need not take place over long periods of geologic time.

In "B", the focus is on latent reproductive mechanisms which give rise to mega-adaptation, not evolution. Because reproduction occurs, the seeming-transmutation is not actually occurring. That this reproduction is not routine would be accounted by seldom-occurring internal biological or external processes/events. Known causes which trigger unusual reproductive rates might offer clues to a "B"-type answer.

The A and B alternate theories don't require much change in evolution's definitions, yet offer competing assumption matrices to explain the same observed data and phenomena. They may well turn up more evidence to warrant evolution. They may instead reveal contradictions hitherto unnoticed. They have the advantage, over the evolutionary arguments, in that they don't require evolutional change to be true. Such a flexibility is more sensible, in light of the data we have. (Transmutation is so based upon assumed near-magical relationships absent proof, it strains logical credibility.)

For example, "A" above, rather than requiring prolonged "transmutation", assumes greater intraspecies diversity. So, there is less need to assume unprovable transmutations. So, instead of merely believing that matter and energy "just always were", the belief becomes, "the diversity just always was." This switch in the starting point focuses on the latter two evolutionary "branches" summarized in "II", above.

For example, "B" (which could be added/combined with "A"), means "transmutation" is instead merely a reproduction feature; which, like recessive genes, does not occur except in rare events; unnatural causes may constitute one of the subsets of "rare events".

To some extent, these two explanations have long been a part of biological science, but have not been perhaps sufficiently evaluated to see how extensive their roles may be in causing the changes currently assumed to belong under the "evolution" mantle.

What alternate hypothesis or theory could help resolve the above-noted tautologies in evolution's "life" defintion? One could add a "C", which, as reincarnation religions have long done, assumes that "life" is some kind of impersonal force, a bundle of coded instructions distinct from, yet affecting all it "creates": a sort of "cosmic DNA". Here, we admit of immateriality (or atomic structures we've thought we couldn't measure), without needing to say "god". Immateriality would be defined, thus, as a sort of life-principle, that which is the uncaused-cause but itself has neither mass nor energy. Perhaps time is an inherent property of it; so, matter and energy, being the "children" of this instruction set, thus become subject to time. (Vector analysis need not be affected by time, still; current theories of spacetime would not necessarily be invalidated, but rather are better-explained, versus "'time' is but the name we give to 'relative motion'.")

Two related types of analysis might help our search here:

    1) a requestionning of whether our "universe" is solely composed of matter and energy (i.e., might some third element exist we've incorrectly lumped into the prior two); and

    2) Quantum theory and the theory of relativity (although they clash). The idea of independent or absolute time, now discarded, might be profitably re-examined.

None of these "A", "B", "C" alternatives requires religion in the laboratory or the classroom.

As it stands, evolution rests on faith, as does many a religion. Evolution believes that its definitions and assumed functions of "life", "species", "mutation/ transmutation" are sufficiently correct. So, evolution is just as much a faith as any religion's "God [whoever "God" is] created life." Both sets of faith do rest on logics. Neither is proven nor disproved.

That evolution has become the queen explanation, admitting of no rivals, is a dangerous trend, which threatens to catapult science back into the "Dark Ages".

V. Conclusion

Transmutation is the heart of "evolution". Unintentionally, its tenets recast the essence of reincarnation religions (absent a title of "god"); yet evolution claims to be non-religious, and on that ground, freer of human bias. It refuses to examine religious concepts to see if there may be, underneath those concepts, testable truths (including ones which may contradict evolutionary tenets).

Moreover, evolutionary theories rest upon tautological foundations: circular definitions of the components to identify (life, species, transmutation), and circular definitions of assumed  relationships among the observed data. This circularity is composed of:

    1) a too-narrow definition of the nature of the components, and

    2) a too-narrow insistence that the observed similarities MUST be causally-linked transmutationally from more-primitive to more-complex.

Thus, all the observed data are deemed "fit". This "fit" gives us the illusion that evolution is correct; instead, this "fit" may mask classification errors in "species" and "transmutation", with regard to 1) reproduction, and 2) intraspecies adaptation/ degeneration. Such a masking can have very detrimental effects upon other scientific disciplines.

Further still, this "fit" waves away gross contradictions, such as the fact that life-form societies continue historically to have the structure of "many-weak, few strong", and the weak not only survive, but prosperously multiply.

Worse, this "fit" is claimed based on data which is not statistically-significant, so we don't know that what we think we see even characterizes ancient populations as a whole. Even if the data were statistically significant, evolution requires so much interpretation that its "theory" is really a string of educated-guesswork to account for origins.

Finally, evolution's dogmatic hold bullies: it does not allow for alternative theories which might explain the same data as well or better, or expose hitherto-unrecognized contradictions in evolutionary tenets.

Human bias thus very much skews the meaning of the results, just as "believers" skew the meaning of their holy books. Evolution, too, once (wrongly) the pariah of belief, fortunately triumphed in the Scopes Trial's effect on public opinion; but by now has joined the ranks of man's many "sacred cows". The alleged exclusion of religious arguments, claiming such arguments can't be objective, is not only silly (for who knows what testable truths might be under the rhetoric), but hypocritical.

So, just as many sects competing the more exposes/fixes/refines some religious "truth", so also science would be better served if the underlying assumptions were tested against competing scientific theories/hypotheses. Science would likewise be better served if it opened up its standards of inquiry on evolution to include testing religious explanations (especially since "evolution" currently is a nondeity form of reincarnation). Such pursuits need not be religious; in fact, such pursuits would be for the purpose of discerning "beneath" the religious rhetoric any human observations which might prove worthy to science.

Meanwhile, evolution's guesswork is necessary. It should be disclosed as such, rather than represented as true, to the public at large. (Many a scientist laments the misrepresentation of evolution as "the truth", so this article's exhortation is not new.)

In sum, evolution, like religion, is a construct which has some internal cohesion, but is not of itself (as yet) conclusive. To insist it is "the answer", as if any competing answer were thus illogical and unscientific, is to be dogmatically religious on evolution. 'Which, of course, is fine; but let us not pretend that evolution is the more scientific; let us admit that, for now, evolution's theories, like religions', still rest on faith.

Such an admission will thus motivate more-objective revisions, and hopefully rid science of what seems to be an ossifying, self-destructive trend.