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More on Alien Octopi: New Paper Admits Failure of Evolution to Explain Life

Cornelius Hunter

Octopi

There are many fundamental problems with evolutionary theory. Origin-of-life studies have dramatically failed. Incredibly complex biological designs, both morphological and molecular, arose abruptly with far too little time to have evolved. The concept of punctuated equilibrium is descriptive, not explanatory. The Cambrian explosion is not explained by evolution and, in general, evolutionary mechanisms are inadequate to explain the emergence of new traits, body plans, and new physiologies. Even a single gene is beyond the reach of evolutionary mechanisms.

In fact, the complexity and sophistication of life cannot originate from non-biological matter under any scenario, over any expanse of space and time, however vast. On the other hand, the archenemy of evolutionary theory, Lamarckian inheritance, in its variety of forms, is well established.

As noted here already (“With New Theory of the Cambrian Explosion, Scientists Reach (Literally) for the Stars”), these scientific observations are laid out in a new peer-reviewed, scientific paper arguing for panspermia.

Origin of Life

Regarding origin-of-life studies, which try to explain how living cells could somehow have arisen in an ancient, inorganic, Earth, the paper explains that this idea should have long since been rejected, but instead it has fueled “sophisticated conjectures with little or no evidential support.”

…the dominant biological paradigm — abiogenesis in a primordial soup. The latter idea was developed at a time when the earliest living cells were considered to be exceedingly simple structures that could subsequently evolve in a Darwinian way. These ideas should of course have been critically examined and rejected after the discovery of the exceedingly complex molecular structures involved in proteins and in DNA. But this did not happen. Modern ideas of abiogenesis in hydrothermal vents or elsewhere on the primitive Earth have developed into sophisticated conjectures with little or no evidential support. [Emphasis added.]

In fact, abiogenesis has “no empirical support.”

…independent abiogenesis on the cosmologically diminutive scale of oceans, lakes or hydrothermal vents remains a hypothesis with no empirical support…

One problem, of many, is that the early Earth would not have supported such monumental evolution:

The conditions that would most likely to have prevailed near the impact-riddled Earth’s surface 4.1–4.23 billion years ago were too hot even for simple organic molecules to survive let alone evolve into living complexity

In fact, the whole idea strains credibility “beyond the limit.”

The requirement now, on the basis of orthodox abiogenic thinking, is that an essentially instantaneous transformation of non-living organic matter to bacterial life occurs, an assumption we consider strains credibility of Earth-bound abiogenesis beyond the limit.

All laboratory experiments have ended in “dismal failure.” The information hurdle is of “superastronomical proportions” and simply could not have been overcome without a miracle.

The transformation of an ensemble of appropriately chosen biological monomers (e.g. amino acids, nucleotides) into a primitive living cell capable of further evolution appears to require overcoming an information hurdle of superastronomical proportions, an event that could not have happened within the time frame of the Earth except, we believe, as a miracle. All laboratory experiments attempting to simulate such an event have so far led to dismal failure.

Diversity of Life

But the origin of life is just the beginning of evolution’s problems. For science now suggests evolution is incapable of creating the diversity of life and all of its designs:

Before the extensive sequencing of DNA became available it would have been reasonable to speculate that random copying errors in a gene sequence could, over time, lead to the emergence of new traits, body plans and new physiologies that could explain the whole of evolution. However the data we have reviewed here challenge this point of view. It suggests that the Cambrian Explosion of multicellular life that occurred 0.54 billion years ago led to a sudden emergence of essentially all the genes that subsequently came to be rearranged into an exceedingly wide range of multi-celled life forms — Tardigrades, the Squid, Octopus, fruit flies, humans — to name but a few.

As one of the authors writes, “the complexity and sophistication of life cannot originate (from non-biological) matter under any scenario, over any expanse of space and time, however vast.” As an example, consider the octopus.

Octopus

First, the octopus is an example of novel, complex features, rapidly appearing and a vast array of genes without an apparent ancestry:

Its large brain and sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies, instantaneous camouflage via the ability to switch colour and shape are just a few of the striking features that appear suddenly on the evolutionary scene. The transformative genes leading from the consensus ancestral Nautilus (e.g., Nautilus pompilius) to the common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) to Squid (Loligo vulgaris) to the common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) are not easily to be found in any pre-existing life form.

But it gets worse. As I have explained, the cephalopods demonstrate a unique level of adenosine to inosine mRNA editing. It is yet another striking example of lineage-specific design that utterly contradicts macroevolution:

These data demonstrate extensive evolutionary conserved adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) mRNA editing sites in almost every single protein-coding gene in the behaviorally complex coleoid Cephalopods (Octopus in particular), but not in nautilus. This enormous qualitative difference in Cephalopod protein recoding A-to-I mRNA editing compared to nautilus and other invertebrate and vertebrate animals is striking. Thus in transcriptome-wide screens only 1–3% of Drosophila and human protein coding mRNAs harbour an A-to-I recoding site; and there only about 25 human mRNA messages which contain a conserved A-to-I recoding site across mammals. In Drosophila lineages there are about 65 conserved A-sites in protein coding genes and only a few identified in C. elegans which support the hypothesis that A-to-I RNA editing recoding is mostly either neutral, detrimental, or rarely adaptive. Yet in Squid and particularly Octopus it is the norm, with almost every protein coding gene having an evolutionary conserved A-to-I mRNA editing site isoform, resulting in a nonsynonymous amino acid change. This is a virtual qualitative jump in molecular genetic strategy in a supposed smooth and incremental evolutionary lineage — a type of sudden “great leap forward”. Unless all the new genes expressed in the squid/octopus lineages arose from simple mutations of existing genes in either the squid or in other organisms sharing the same habitat, there is surely no way by which this large qualitative transition in A-to-I mRNA editing can be explained by conventional neo-Darwinian processes, even if horizontal gene transfer is allowed.

Lamarck

In the 20th century, Lamarckian inheritance was anathema for evolutionists. Careers were ruined and every evolutionist knew the inheritance of acquired characteristics sat right alongside the flat earth and geocentrism in the history of ideas. The damning of Lamarck, however, was driven by dogma rather than data, and today the evidence has finally overcome evolutionary theory.

Indeed there is much contemporary discussion, observations and critical analysis consistent with this position led by Corrado Spadafora, Yongsheng Liu, Denis Noble, John Mattick and others, that developments such as Lamarckian Inheritance processes (both direct DNA modifications and indirect, viz. epigenetic, transmissions) in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields now necessitate a complete revision of the standard neo-Darwinian theory of evolution or “New Synthesis ” that emerged from the 1930s and 1940s.

Indeed, we now know of a “plethora of adaptive Lamarckian-like inheritance mechanisms.”

There is, of course, nothing new in this paper. We have discussed these, and many, many other refutations of evolutionary theory. Yet the paper is significant because it appears in a peer-reviewed journal. Science is, if anything, conservative. It doesn’t exactly “follow the data,” at least until it becomes OK to do so. There are careers and reputations at stake.

Photo: Red Sea Octopus, by prilfish, via Flickr.

Cross-posted at Darwin’s God