Reductive evolution of complexity — can we say square circle?

Walter Remine mentioned in passing about a parasite that slowly evolved to lose all its organs except for its anus. Unfortunately he didn’t recall the name of the creature or whether he got all the details right, but rather than peppered moths, if that creature really exists, it should be the poster child of Darwinism.

I’ve argued almost from the beginning that most observed evolution in real time is loss of function. Loss of function is called reductive evolution. And the fact that most selectively favored adaptations involving function is loss of function rather than acquisition of function is what I refer to as Behe’s Rule.

But far be for evolutionists to salute creationists and IDists who have pointed out evidence of Behe’s Rule. I’ll at least credit them with being brutally honest in the following papers:

Genome Reduction as the Dominant mode of Evolution

A common belief is that evolution generally proceeds towards greater complexity at both the organismal and
the genomic level, numerous examples of reductive evolution of parasites and symbionts notwithstanding.
However, recent evolutionary reconstructions challenge this notion. Two notable examples are the reconstruction of the complex archaeal ancestor and the intron-rich ancestor of eukaryotes. In both cases, evolution in most of the lineages was apparently dominated by extensive loss of genes and introns, respectively. These and many other cases of reductive evolution are consistent with a general model composed of two distinct evolutionary phases: the short, explosive, innovation phase that leads to an abrupt increase in genome complexity, followed by
a much longer reductive phase, which encompasses either a neutral ratchet of genetic material loss or adaptive genome streamlining. Quantitatively, the evolution of genomes appears to be dominated by reduction and simplification, punctuated by episodes of complexification.

“punctuated by episodes of complexification.” is a euphemism for POOF. I described the nature of the POOF
mechanism here.

The co-author of the article, Koonin, is a big advocate of multiverses to solve the problem of punctuated complexity in biology. Multiverse explanations are POOF raised to Nth power.

And here is a paper that vindicated something I said in 2006 regarding spare parts: Loss of Genetic Redundancy in Reductive Genome Evolution. It basically says, functions not visible to selection will get lost. I said it many times, something can be functional but be virtually invisible to selection, and thus these functions can be lost.

Here we test this hypothesis by investigating the evolutionary dynamics of genetic redundancy in extremely reduced genomes, found mostly in intracellular parasites and endosymbionts. By combining data analysis with simulations of genome evolution we show that in the extensive gene loss suffered by reduced genomes there is a selective drive to keep the diversity of protein families while sacrificing paralogy [redundancy]…..
We propose that this represents loss of copy redundancy that is possible because the host cell represents a predictable environment in which there is little pressure for the bacteria to retain these backups. In simplistic terms, if the road is always smooth, you are probably OK without a spare tire.

But the problem is, how then did these genetic “spare tires” evolve in the first place if they are invisible to selection, particularly if the “spare tires” are irreducibly complex. See: Fault Tolerance, A Greater Foe to Darwinism than Irreducible Complexity.

And then this paper by Lenski

Black Queen Hypothesis (2013)

We present the Black Queen Hypothesis (BQH), a novel theory of reductive evolution that explains how selection leads to such dependencies; its name refers to the queen of spades in the game Hearts, where the usual strategy is to avoid taking this card. Gene loss can provide a selective advantage by conserving an organism’s limiting resources, provided the gene’s function is dispensable.

It would seem my essay Fixation rate, what about breaking rate? was actually being generous to evolutionary theory in accounting for loss of function. The issue isn’t whether a mutation hinders reproductive success, the issue is when the need for reproductive success destroys functioning systems.

If real selection in the wild destroys function, it casts serious doubt that selection in the wild creates functions in the first place. That is why I said, the phrase “Natural Selection” is double speak for Darwin’s Falsified Fantasy Mechanism (DFFM).

Finally there is a paper that celebrates the genius of selection in destroying stomachs in a variety of creatures which I highlight in the essay Thanks Larry! If a species can lose its stomach, it must mean the mutation was neutral.

The essay describes how complex organs can be a liability to reproduction, and thus selection will destroy it. The authors of the paper said as much:

there is a high cost in maintaining a complex organ like the stomach


I said in the comment section:

Just as I said, you think survival of the sickest is some genius insight. You revel in the loss of eyes (cave fish), the loss of stomachs (sharks), the loss of wings (beetles), the loss of legs (snakes), the loss of functioning blood (sickle cell anemia), etc. and think “Wow, Natural Selection is such a great theory to explain the evolution of complexity because we have so many examples of how selection destroys things for the sake of reproductive success.”

Walter Remine told me of a parasite that essentially lost all of its functions and all that was left was essentially an anus. If someone knows what creature that was that suffered such a fate of reductive evolution, please post, that should be the poster child of Darwinian evolution.

From the glory days of Uncommon Descent, this essay by Bill Dembski was prophetic:

There’s an old Saturday Night Live routine with Anthony Perkins (who played Norman Bates, the crazed motel operator in Hitchcock’s PSYCHO). In it, Perkins, playing Bates, describes his new school of hotel management:

Norman Bates: [ to camera ] Are you tired of slaving away in a dull, dead-end job? Fed up with meager paychecks that never stretch quite far enough? Sickened and disgusted by missing out on the good things of life? Hi, I’m Norman Bates for The Norman Bates School of Motel Management, here to explain how you can be your own boss while earning money in this rapidly-expanding field. Best of all, you learn at home, right in the privacy of your own shower. I’ll show you how to run anything from a tourist home to.. [ camera pans to scary-looking duck trophy on the wall, then back to Norman ] ..a multi-unit motor inn. You’ll recieve step-by-step instructions.. [ camera pans to scary-looking owl trophy on the wall, then back to Norman ] ..on how to make reservations and how to determine room rates, how to change the linen, and even little-known tricks of the trade, such as improving customer relations by giving guests a complimentary newspaper in the morning. [ holds up newspaper that reads “Los Angeles Times: SLASHER STRIKES AGAIN!” ]

Yes, a diploma in motel management can be your passport to prosperity, independence, and security, but are you motel material? Let’s find out with a simple quiz.

Question 1: A guest loses the key to her room. Would you
A) Give her a duplicate key
B) Let her in with your passkey
C) Hack her to death with a kitchen knife

Question 2: Which of the following is the most important in running a successful motel?
A) Cordial atmosphere
B) Courteous service
C) Hack her to death with a kitchen knife

Question 3: How many…. MORE

You get the idea. The correct answer to every question is C): “Hack her to death with a kitchen knife.” Likewise, with Darwinism (aka Darwinian theory, the blind watchmaker, mechanistic evolution, naturalistic evolution, unintelligent evolution, etc.), the answer to every question over how some complex biological system formed is:

C) Hack to death all organisms that don’t have that system or some precursor to it.

We can thank Darwin for that insightful answer. The short-hand for it is NATURAL SELECTION.

Darwinism, Natural Selection and the Norman Bates School of Hotel Management