Evolutionary theory gets credited for changes that really do not help Darwin’s view of a universal tree of life.  Three examples show how.

Toxin resistance by insects:  Science Daily reported on a study out of Cornell University that showed the same mutation occurring in four orders of insects, conferring resistance to plant toxins called cardenolides.  “This is truly a remarkable level of evolutionary repeatability and suggests that evolving resistance to the plant toxin had very few effective options,” lead research Anurag Agrawal said, hinting that evolution might in some way be predestined.  But as Dr. Michael Behe argued, single point mutations, even double mutations, lie within the “Edge of Evolution” and can thus be explained by chance.  Insects gaining the mutation will survive and proliferate because the cardenolides will no longer bind to enzymes required by the insects’ sodium pump.  The insects are still the same species, however.  They have not generated any novel genetic information, let alone a new irreducibly complex structure.  Point mutations cannot explain the origin of the sodium pump and the enzyme in the first place.  At best, this mutation represents a loss of genetic information that happened to help the insects escape death, so it falls in the category of “cutting of a hand makes you immune to handcuffs” – hardly a mechanism that can generate the diverse and c0mplex wonders of the living world.  See also the explanation at Uncommon Descent.

Speciation by gene duplication:  A case of a new “species” of monkeyflower emerging from a whole-genome duplication was reported by Live Science.  The new hybrid apparently cannot crossbreed with other similar monkeyflowers, but whether this represents “newly evolved species” seems a stretch; it is still a monkeyflower, very similar in appearance to the sibling monkeyflowers without the duplication.  “While many new species of plants are thought to arise this way, it has only been witnessed amongst wild plants a handful of times in history,” one scientist was cited as saying.  He also placed most species evolution in the unobservable past, claiming, “most species originated thousands of years ago” by processes he could only describe as a “series of unlikely events”.  Again, no new genetic information was added.  Nothing was stated about the flowers fitness other than that is seen growing in the wild (most hybrids are sterile).  Since duplicating this paragraph would not explain the origin of the paragraph or make it more meaningful, it’s a stretch to call this evolution as Darwin envisioned it; if anything genetic duplication adds to genetic load—a burden on the DNA copying mechanisms that now require double the work with every cell division….

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