Evolution and the Filter Myth

If evolution is true, then natural selection must do more than filter nature’s supply of random genetic variation.

At Creation Reformation we maintain, and show, that natural selection does nothing to explain the origin or existence of any existing life form. We show this most clearly in the explanation of The Natural Selection Paradox. We await a rebuttal; but such is apparently impossible.

We can agree that natural selection “does” something for all the organisms that inherit genetic variation that makes them relatively less fit for reproducing. These organisms are eaten (like the light-colored moths on dark tree trunks in the iconic “Peppered Moths” example of natural selection from old England), starve to death (like the short-necked giraffes in a popular example of natural selection) or are otherwise killed by nature in natural disasters.

It is the “doing” step of natural selection for all the non-rejected organisms that cannot be explained by anyone. What did natural selection do for the surviving dark-colored moths in England, or the long-necked giraffes?

Natural selection is the linch pin in the theory of evolution. So here is the key question for evolutionists: What does natural selection “do” for all the fit organisms that pass through their lifetimes to reproduce freely?

Whatever natural selection did, it did it for every single organism in the ancestral lineage of every current living thing. Because we are all here, not one of any ancestor organisms in our lineage died before they could reproduce.

It seems, then, that natural selection’s role for all the fit organisms should be self-evident. But can anyone answer the key question above? Apparently not.

Let us explain.

One popular attempt at explaining the “doing” function of natural selection is to use the metaphor of a filter. For example, consider the opening statement on natural selection from Oklahoma State University Biol1114 (emphasis added):

Natural selection . . . is the process in which organisms with certain characteristics are eliminated from the population are eliminated while others become more common. Natural selection acts as a filter.

http://biol1114.okstate.edu/study_guides/scenarios/3-ootf/concepts/natsel.html#:~:text=Natural%20selection%20acts%20as%20a%20filter.&text=Many%20organisms%2C%20especially%20those%20in,or%20distasteful%20to%20grazers%2Fpredators.

In their explanation of natural selection, LibreTexts in their “Evolution and Natural Selection” section state the following:

The second thing to understand is that natural selection is a process by which Nature filters organisms in a population. . . . The generation of variation is not guided. Variation happens and natural selection filters what works best

https://bio.libretexts.org/Under_Construction/Purgatory/Core_(Britt’s_page)/Evolution_and_Natural_Selection_%23

Note LibreTexts’ subtle attempt to imply that natural selection does something to guide the evolutionary process. This is a common tactic meant to lead students to infer that while genetic variation is truly random and unguided, natural selection acts to bring non-random order to the process. Richard Dawkins similarly attributes a “guiding” ability to natural selection when he states that chance variations can be,

. . . tamed…only if there is a mechanism for guiding each step in some particular direction, otherwise the sequence of steps will career off in an endless random walk.

Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996), 318 (emphasis added).

Let’s test LibreTexts’ (and every other evolutionists’) implications that natural selection brings anything additional to nature, specifically any non-random ordering or guidance to the process.

We agree with evolutionists that genetic variation is truly random and supplies the raw material into nature from which natural selection supposedly works.

But what does natural selection do with all this random variation supplied to it as the raw material of all living things?

Consider the diagram of a filter below, and imagine the filter represents the role of natural selection in nature. Random genetic variations supply the “feed” of variant organisms to the filter of natural selection, and the variants remaining in nature after natural selection acts make up the surviving “filtrate,” so to speak.

The small green balls represent variant organisms that inherited advantageous traits in their genetic variation. And the large red balls represent variant organisms that inherited injurious traits in their genetic variation. And the flow represented by the arrows represents the direction of time, denoting that some organisms die in the “filter” of natural selection, thereby ending their opportunity to reproduce. Others survive the “filter” of natural selection, thereby living long enough to reproduce.

You might say that the small green balls represent the dark-colored moths and the large red balls represent the light-colored moths in the famous Peppered Moths example of natural selection from old England.

What did the filter of natural selection “do” in this example? We can agree that it “rejected” the large red balls, Variant 2. This is analogous to natural selection rejecting, i.e., filtering, the light-colored moths and the short-necked giraffes being eaten or starving to death, respectively.

But what does “filtering” look like for the “preserved” Variant 1, i.e., the dark-colored moths and the long-necked giraffes?

What did the filter of natural selection “do” for the small green balls?

That’s right: Nothing!

The filter had absolutely nothing to do with the origin of the small green balls in the “feed;” they are the result only of the genetic variation that produced them and fed them to natural selection. And the filter had absolutely nothing to do with their continued existence; the small green balls are not changed in any way and would have passed their existence through time whether the filter was there or not.

The filter is invisibly irrelevant to the fate of the small green balls.

And so it is for all the “fit” organisms that survive to reproduce: Natural selection is invisibly irrelevant to all the organisms, like the dark-colored moths and the long-necked giraffes, who inherit advantageous traits.

For those still wondering, note that the small green balls in the “filtrate” are the exact same small green balls from the “feed.” That is, the small green balls pass their “lifetime” the same whether there is a filter there to block the large red balls or not. The fate of the small green balls is not changed by the existence or non-existence of the filter affecting the red balls being filtered out all around them.

And so, the filter analogy fails to answer the key question posed above.

Natural selection does nothing in nature to explain anything with respect to the origin or existence of all current life forms, including human beings.

Unfortunately, it seems that the notion that natural selection “does” something in nature is so ingrained that even creationist organizations use the “filter” metaphor. Take the views of one of the largest creationist organizations, Answers in Genesis (AiG). In a section entitled Natural Selection, they explain (bold emphasis added):

Natural selection cannot generate brand new genetic information. It simply doesn’t work that way. Instead, it filters information that already exists

https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/

We at Creation Reformation object to such a characterization of natural selection. We do not disagree with the AiG statement, but in stating it in this manner, i.e., that natural selection “filters information,” it leaves a curious reader with the idea that natural selection does something and did something for all living things. In this case it leaves the reader with the idea that, while not generating “brand new” genetic information, natural selection nevertheless “did” something–even if ever so slight–to explain new life forms.

But the filter analogy simply highlights that natural selection without question does nothing for surviving variants in nature. Again, it merely confirms The Natural Selection Paradox: Natural selection does nothing to explain the origin and existence of all living life forms.  

It’s time to call the evolutionists out on this charade.

Think about it.

Filter diagram by By Wikiwayman at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12841159

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