NEUROSCIENCE INVALIDATES DARWIN’S THEORY OF EVOLUTION
Darwin’s theory of evolution by the natural selection of random mutations fails as a scientific theory. The authors of the state-of-the-art textbook, Neuroscience, 6 Ed. (Oxford, 2018), proclaim their belief in Darwinism. They state, “As the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said, “Nothing in biology makes sense save in the light of evolution.” I disagree and claim Darwinism fails miserably as a scientific theory. I will use the evidence presented in Neuroscience, much to the authors’ dismay, to support my argument.
Let’s look closer at Dobzhansky’s statement. If nothing makes sense in biology without considering Darwinism, it would not be possible to make advances in the sciences of molecular biology, molecular genetics and medicine without demonstrating how and why Darwinism is integral. I can promise you, after 38 years as a physician treating patients in the emergency department, I never once had to consider Darwinian evolution. This is because Darwinism is not only not integral, Darwinism is not a scientific theory. Darwinism is a worldview—a metaphysic, or in some cases a religion. Dobzhansky and the authors of Neuroscience are clearly incorrect. All of medicine, anatomy and physiology makes perfect sense in the absence of Darwinism.
Darwin believed (and Neo-Darwinists today continue to believe) that humans were created by the natural selection of random mutations. But the complexity of the human body—and in this essay the central nervous system specifically—is blatantly inconsistent with Darwin’s theory. Darwin dismisses complexity, claiming the fossil record would provide the evidence to prove his theory correct. But the fossil record has not rescued his theory. In fact, as scientists learn more and more about molecular biology, genetics and other health related sciences, complexity explodes. As complexity increases, Darwin’s theory becomes more unrealistic.
Neuroscience possesses astonishing complexity, and the neuroscience of a developing brain only exaggerates this complexity. There is no better example of how Neo-Darwinists dismiss complexity than their avoidance of the role DNA plays in embryology. Remember Darwin based his theory on the proposition that, “[N]o complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications. . .” This ignores embryology and the role DNA plays in every developing organ. On that fact alone Darwin’s theory fails. Nevertheless, the complexity of embryology needs explaining. Therefore, in this essay I will clarify four very complex elements of the neuroscience of developing brains. I will provide the reader with logical questions that Neo-Darwinists should be asking but are not. In doing so we will discover patterns, or paradigms, that exist in the Neo-Darwinian worldview.
This essay is divided into four sections: A. Overview of Early Brain Development, B. Formation of the Central Nervous System, C. Formation of Major Brain Regions, and D. The Molecular Basis of Neural Induction.
A. Overview of Early Brain Development
All anatomy and physiology of the human body exists, and is dependent upon, information encoded in human DNA (which itself exists, and is dependent upon, information encoded in human DNA). Neo-Darwinists neglect the fact that the human body must be created from two cells that transform over time and proceed through various, unique stages of development: embryo, fetus, child, and adult. Each stage requires distinctive and very precise DNA instructions. Those DNA instructions for the dynamically, transforming human reside within the DNA. What are the nucleotide sequences of each piece of information in that code? How is this code activated, and how is it shut down when it is temporarily or permanently no longer needed? Neo-Darwinists do not have the answers and would like us to ignore the questions.
Nonetheless, with these questions in mind, let’s begin observing what logical questions are neglected. According to the authors of Neuroscience, who discuss embryology and development of the central nervous system, the human brain is a “product of cell-to-cell signals, genetic instructions, and their consequences. . .[T]he initial formation of the major brain regions, the generation of neurons and glial cells from undifferentiated neural stem or precursor cells and the migration of neurons. . .These processes set the stage for the subsequent differentiation of local dendrites, axons, and synapses as well as long distance axon pathways.”
That one paragraph from Neuroscience, is packed with complex information regarding operational systems and structures. Scientists do not fully understand how these operational systems work, other than they are controlled by information within DNA. And that is my point. It is insufficient to state that “it’s in the DNA,” and then imply we fully understand DNA. Where in the DNA do the instructions exist? What are the responsible nucleotide sequences? How do the responsible nucleotide sequences transform information into structure and function? These are questions that Neo-Darwinists cannot answer, and they are questions that Neo-Darwinists never ask because they know the natural selection of random mutations cannot cause this degree of complexity. But we will ask in order to illustrate how little is actually known about human anatomy and physiology. And by asking we will demonstrate how unrealistic it is to believe in Darwinism.
The cited paragraph above is an excellent example of how, throughout the literature that supports Darwinism, you will read about complex systems and structures that are merely mentioned but never explained. It seems that authors confuse readers with facts then move on quickly before anyone has a chance to ask questions that they should be asking.
Let’s see how this intellectual laziness manifests by dissecting the cited paragraph. First, cell-to-cell signaling requires knowledge of how signals are sent and received, what information is passed, and why that information is needed. Second, neurons and glial cells must “generate” neurons, and neurons must “migrate.” How does this happen? Can anything go wrong when something generates or migrates? Why do structures migrate, and from where to where? How do they know when to stop migrating? Then there is the question of “differentiation.” How do dendrites, axons, synapses and axon pathways differentiate? What do they differentiate from, and what do they become? How does that work? Remarkably, there are no answers to all these questions. In fact, rather than answers, scientists keep making more unexplained observations.
Does it make any sense that a scientist is more likely to answer these questions if he or she believes structure and function arose from random mutations; or is it more likely that a curious mind will search for specific answers if he or she believes there is a specific design that can ultimately be discovered?
In this section we saw how complex systems and structures are mentioned but not explained. Now let’s see what we can observe in the next section.
A. Formation of the Central Nervous System
As the spherical mass of embryonic cells expands, numerous complex operations (or processes) form numerous structures. One of the first complex process, gastrulation, forms the structure, the gastrula. Gastrulation is the process where the single-layered hollow sphere of embryonic cells is reorganized into a multilayered structure called the gastrula. The following is how the authors describe gastrulation, and once again it illustrates how complex systems and structures are mentioned but not explained, “Gastrulation begins as a local invagination of a subset of cells in the very early embryo… by time invagination is complete, the embryo consists of three layers of cells called the germ layers: an outer ectoderm; a middle mesoderm;… and an inner endoderm…[which] determine the position of all organ systems…”
Look at the complex operations that are not explained; “invagination of a subset of cells.” How do cells know how to “invaginate,” and which cells invaginate? How do they know when to stop invaginating? What are the nucleotide sequences that control that process? Which “subset” of cells do all this work, and why those and only those? How is the process of “determining” the position of all organ systems accomplished? The authors give us observations, not explanations. Claiming Darwinism is the mechanism that explains these astronomically complex operations is preposterous and is merely an argument from ignorance.
Let’s proceed. The notochord is a cylinder of mesodermal cells that defines the long axis of the body. It is a temporary structure that disappears once early development is complete. The notochord sends inductive signals to the overlying ectoderm that cause a subset of cells to differentiate in a process called neurulation. The neuroectoderm lying above the notochord gives rise to the entire nervous system.
This process of neurulation is filled with complex structures: neuroectodermal precursor cells, neural plate, neural tube, floorplate and neural stem cells. It is the neural stem cells that give rise to the entire brain, spinal cord and most of the peripheral nervous system including all the cell types.
Look at the complex operation of the notochord, which is merely a temporary structure. The notochord “sends inductive signals.” Sending signals is not a simple singular function! Signals are created because they are needed. Signals must have the correct information and receiving cells must know what to do with the signals. This is a tremendously complex operation and no Neo-Darwinist can describe which nucleotides mutated from what to what, over what period of time, in order to produce the specific desired outcome of signaling. The outcome of signaling must be desired and specific because the developing brain cannot tolerate ambiguous information.
The authors conclude the section on early brain development with this illustrative, albeit long and complex sentence, “The past decades have witnessed an explosion of molecular biological knowledge about the inductive signaling events and their consequences for gene expression and differentiation that transform neuroectodermal precursors and neural stem cells into the diverse cell and tissue types of the nervous system, including the neural crest.”
Once again, observations without explanations. The complexity of the sentence above is so great it is difficult to follow even as a mere observation. The explanations of these complex systems, operations and structures would fill books. This complexity demonstrates that Darwin’s theory of evolution could only have been proposed in the 1800’s or earlier, before significant scientific knowledge was discovered.
B. Formation of Major Brain Regions
The authors go into significant detail in this section, but I will merely mention operations and structures to illustrate our developing paradigms. The authors state, “Soon after the neural tube forms, the forerunners of the major brain regions become apparent as a result of morphogenetic movements that bend, fold, and constrict the tube. . .Once the primitive brain regions are established, they undergo at least two more rounds of partitioning. . .”
Any inquisitive person would likely ask, how do the cells know when and where to bend, fold and constrict? Which cells do this, and which cells do not? How do they know when to stop bending, folding and constricting? If these morphogenic movements are not done precisely in this early stage of development, the results will be disastrous.
The following is a partial list of structures, mentioned by the authors, that are involved in the developing brain: cephalic flexure, prosencephalon, mesencephalon, rhombencephalon, telencephalon, ganglionic eminences, diencephalon, optic vesicles, metencephalon, myelencephalon. These structures, like all structures, are created from encoded information in DNA. There is no randomness in the structure of a developing brain. It is irrational to think a random process creates non-random structures.
C. The Molecular Basis of Neural Induction
The molecular biology of the developing brain is overwhelmingly complex. As the brain develops, there are changes that occur within the spatial relationships of structures over time. But this is merely an inevitable consequence of change. Neo-Darwinists surreptitiously imply that the position of cells in relation to their neighbors is actually the mechanism that explains development. They claim that spatial relationships over time have some kind of causative power. The cause of the developing embryo is DNA, not positions in time. As an example, the authors state, “Neural stem cells in the early neural plate and tube, and subsequently in each nascent brain region, must acquire instructions that establish their capacity to make nerve cells specific to each region.” This is clever, but wrong. The neural cells don’t serendipitously acquire instructions; DNA provides the instructions which are utilized when and where the design indicates.
The authors continue to press their Neo-Darwinist worldview, “Cells that are moved either acquire the identity of the new region in which they are placed (thus receiving instructions based on their new location), or they retain an identity that reflects their original position (and thus possess immutable instructions from their original location).” But wait, does this not prove my point? If some cells change according to signals received based solely on location, and others do not, does that not indicate a more highly engineered set of instructions that supersedes spatial relationships? Spatial relationships are pseudo-mechanisms.
Neo-Darwinists would like us to ignore the fact that embryonic cellular and structural changes in space and time are merely observations without power. They would like us to believe that time and position are causal agents. DNA is the only causal agent.
In this very superficial overview of neuroscience it is obvious that Neo-Darwinists do in fact subscribe to Darwin’s 1800’s theory of evolution by the natural selection of random mutations. However, their support incorporates flawed paradigms:
1.Neo-Darwinists ignore the existence and complexity regarding the role DNA plays in a dynamically developing embryo, fetus, child and finally an adult.
2.Neo-Darwinists create pseudo-mechanisms such as giving causal power to spatial and temporal cellular relationships, whereas only DNA has causal power.
3.Neo-Darwinists neglect the fact that operating systems and structures are controlled by and created by the same DNA.
4.Neo-Darwinists confuse observations with explanations, and imply they are synonymous.
5.Neo-Darwinists fail to understand that DNA exhibits specific, non-random information and do not address the question, “Can a random process create a non-random structure or operating system?”
6.Neo-Darwinists use the logical fallacy of argument from ignorance, or what I like to call “Darwin of the gaps.”
7.Neo-Darwinists ignore the fact that design, not randomness, generates scientific curiosity and leads to discovery.
1. Dale Purves, George J. Augustine, et. al., editors, Neuroscience, 6 ed. (Oxford: University Press 2018), 767.
2. Id., 491.
4. Id., 492.
6. Id., 494.
7. Id., 495.
8. Id., 498.