Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Left-handed snails

I read National Geographic magazine. I have since I was a kid reading the copies my grandpa got. For a while, I had every issue of the magazine beginning in the mid-60s, at least until I realized that I will never have time to look back at them, my kids weren't interested, and my wife, while accepting my nostalgia, would like the space. That was when I discovered that no one else wanted them either. But I digress.

I still enjoy the magazine, but in recent years it has become the defacto publishing arm of the radical evolutionist society. I myself am a creationist (I'm sure details will emerge over time as to what that means), and I find their over-the-top evolutionary agenda frustrating at times. Every now and then, though, I just find it amusing.

Like this month. In their wildlife section, they have a short article on "left-handed" snails. Now, I'm left-handed, and I have a particular fondness for creatures that share this particular physiologic advantage. The article observes that these snails, which have shells that curve in the opposite direction from their right-handed counterparts, have a significant advantage in the realm of survival -- the species of crab that feeds on them is adapted for eating right-handed snails, and rather than struggle with the lefties, it just leaves them alone.

The article concludes with the following amusing line: "Despite this apparent advantage, marine snails haven't evolved toward having mostly left-handed shells; scientists are at a loss to explain why." Let me see if I understand. We have a genetic adaptation that directly guarantees survival (if your preditor ignores you, that increases your survival). Strangely, this does not produce a shift in population dynamics that is not just predicted by evolution, but (let's be honest), is required by evolution. I cannot imagine a more perfect scenario for gradualist evolution. But it doesn't happen.

Now, I know what's going to happen. Someone is going to continue to look for an explanation, and eventually one is going to be found. And evolutionists will rest easy, knowing that their theory can explain anything. But this little example shows that evolution cannot predict anything. If something this simple cannot produce the sort of population changes that evolution predicts, what real hope is there that exceedingly subtle changes can succeed? And if you can explain why your theory fail when it fails, and succeeds when it succeeds, you do not have a scientific theory, you have a metaphysical device. These are wonderful tools for explaining the universe, but they are of little value in doing science.

One more small point: as I have a Doctorate in Computer Science, I could reasonably be called a scientist. And I am not at all at a loss to explain why the snails haven't evolved. Simply put, they haven't evolved because nothing evolves. Evolution on even a small scale is a very rare event. Minor body changes occur so rarely as to be the exception rather than the rule. Darwin's finches might be the only good example. I don't expect the snails to begin to prefer left-handedness, so I'm not surprised when they don't.

1 comment:

the-unintentional-blogger said...

This is why I needed you to blog. I feel smarter already! Although I have to take issue with your determination that left-handedness is a "physiological advantage" instead of just a freaky quirk of nature. Of course, I'll have to stop writing things like this when my daughter, whose left-handed, can start reading my blogs.

Here are some random comments from your random friend.

1. The fact that you don't title your posts bugs me. I don't know why, but considering I'm your one faithful reader right now, I think you should bend to my will.

2. If you don't like the comment verification where you have to type in the annoying letters, there is a preference where you can turn that off. That way I can leave a comment without having to type in extra letters. Again, it's the whole "bend to my will" thing.

That's it. I'll leave you alone now!