Natural Selection Does Not Tell the Whole Story

According to the Theory of Evolution, all species are selected by Nature, meaning the totality of living and non-living factors in each species’ environment, in competition with other species and with the other members of one’s own species, thus ensuring that only the fittest species, and the fittest individual members of each species, will survive. But natural selection does not tell the whole story of the development of living creatures on the Earth.

In recent times, human selection has become increasingly visible and important in determining the course of certain species’ evolution. And unlike natural selection, human selection does not necessarily result in the survival of the fittest individuals, for instead it results in the survival of the prettiest or most decorative (flowers, pets, and ornamental plants), tamest or friendliest (livestock such as cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, and camels, and companion animals such as dogs and cats), juiciest (fruits), biggest seed or fruit-bearing plants (grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables), sweetest (fruits and plants that are used to manufacture sugar), fastest-growing (fish and meat animals, as well as plants that are used for food), most fecund or productive (egg-laying birds and milk-producing mammals), useful for scientific experiments (laboratory animals that are bred to possess certain characteristics), and so forth. In other words, rather than being best adapted to survive in the natural world, these human-selected organisms are chosen, and therefore are adapted, to suit our very specific human preferences. Previously, all instances of human selection were subsumed under natural selection, since there are examples in the non-human world of a species deliberately influencing or determining the evolution of another species. However, human selection has become so pervasive, rapid, and dominant in recent times that it deserves a category of its own.

When, for example, one surveys a field or farm that is primarily inhabited by only one kind of plant or animal, which increasingly is becoming a global phenomenon that covers more and more of the Earth’s fertile lands, one is looking at the result of human – and certainly not natural – selection. To consider an example, the spread of particular apple varieties worldwide in orchards that contain nothing but these varieties is a result that simply could not have arisen from natural selection. First of all, every single tree in the world that bears a particular variety of apple is genetically identical. This is because apples do not breed true, meaning that, if you were to plant the seeds from, for instance, a Blenheim Orange apple, the mature trees would probably not yield fruit that closely resemble Blenheim Orange apples. To overcome this breeding peculiarity of apples, our clever ancestors developed the process of grafting, in which a cutting is taken from the desired tree and then grafted onto another tree or root stock. Since these trees did not result from sexual reproduction, they are all genetically identical, at least the part of the tree located above the grafted point. Although there are some plant species that reproduce by sending out shoots that, when they reach soil, start to develop roots, thus resulting in a genetically-identical copy of itself, apple trees do not belong in this category. By the process of grafting, specific apple varieties have been able to spread much like a bacterium, making genetically identical copies of themselves that are then planted and propagated in numerous places around the world. If one understands how apple trees normally reproduce, one will see that it is impossible for this result to have been produced by natural selection.

In the case of humans, at least in recent times, the aim of human selection is the survival of everyone, and for as long a time as possible, two principles that are very clearly in opposition to the evolutionary principle of natural selection, which culls the weakest and less well-adapted individuals from all species. In Nature, there are no old-age homes where the elderly members of a species can pass their golden years; instead, once an individual becomes enfeebled by old age, one is increasingly at risk of being caught and eaten by a predator. Moreover, this highly unnatural rate of survival also violates the Law of Balance, another important natural law, whose present massive human violation is causing tremendous biological havoc and calamity around the world.

Another important difference between natural and human selection is that, whereas natural selection leads to a very wide variety of different kinds of organisms, as well as to many different kinds of the same kind of organism, such as monkeys, trees, horses, flowering plants, bees, and so on, human selection, at least in recent times, has led to an alarming uniformity and standardization of life forms. This is clearly visible in the great reduction in genetic variety in many cultivated organisms, both plant and animal, due to the widespread adoption and dominance of industrial agricultural methods, as well as the dominance of large global corporations that seek to produce a highly uniform product, and therefore demand uniform ingredients to feed into their vast globalized industrial machine.

In many cases, these human-selected species are not subjected to competition, for they are raised in an artificial environment that seeks to ensure the survival of only those individuals that possess the traits that we humans prefer. In the case of animals, they are raised in artificial surroundings where they are protected from potential predators and diseases, while they are provided with sufficient food and water at all times, so that they are unlikely to die, at least not until they are slaughtered. Moreover, survival rates of offspring are close to 100 percent, which is a rate of survival that exists nowhere in Nature. In the case of plants, artificial chemical poisons and other means such as guns, traps, and electrified fences are used to eliminate all other plants, animals that would eat them, and disease-causing microbes that could debilitate and kill them. Most people, I think, realize that a great many human-selected organisms, whether plant or animal, would do very poorly if they were left unattended, unmonitored, and unprotected in the wild. In the period of a few generations, many of these human-selected organisms would either disappear, unable to compete with their more hardy or better adapted non-human-selected competitors, or they would revert to their wild, meaning natural, form. In this regard, these human-selected species are very similar to all of our non-living human creations, which also would deteriorate, decay, and revert to the natural substances from which they were fashioned, without the regular maintenance and protection from the natural elements which they require in order to remain in their desired, or ideal, human-conceived state.

As we can see, human selection is very different, and produces very different results, from natural selection, since human selection proceeds according to different criteria, or for different purposes, than natural selection. And yet, according to the Theory of Evolution, natural selection is the only principle that determines the evolution of species on the Earth. In other words, contrary to what is believed by evolutionary biologists and many others, there are numerous exceptions to the presumed universality of the evolutionary principle of natural selection. But in addition to these two different principles that determine the evolution of living species, there is another important principle that also determines their evolution or development: divine selection and intervention.

I know that a great many readers will strenuously object to, while they scoff at, this claim, just as, when Darwin first presented his Theory of Evolution, a great many religious people adamantly objected to his claim that each species was not created uniquely by God, which was the prevailing belief at the time, but rather that all existing species evolved from other species by an entirely natural, meaning non-divine, process. Now I am most certainly not denying the validity of the principle of natural selection, as religious creationists stubbornly do, in spite of all the evidence that has been discovered in support of it. What I am denying is that this principle is universally valid – or, more precisely, globally valid, since it only applies to terrestrial creatures. If we limited and mortal human beings can circumvent the hallowed principle of natural selection, by selecting and breeding or planting only those organisms that we want to survive and multiply, or to make them develop in certain ways, then how much more easy is it for God to circumvent it as well, by favouring certain species over others, by guiding the evolution of a species in a certain direction by favouring certain of their members, or by endowing certain species with certain characteristics?

Imagine if humans were invisible, as God is invisible to us, and an intelligent creature could only see the results of humanity’s selection of certain kinds of plants and animals. What would that creature think? One would think that their development proceeded in accordance with certain principles, such as that, over time, the fruits or seeds of certain plants tend to become larger and more numerous, that cows’ udders become larger and larger in order to produce more milk, that certain animals become tamer and friendlier, and so on.

Due to the existence of sexual reproduction, which allows for more rapid and greater evolutionary changes than is possible with identical reproduction, when a new and useful ability or characteristic develops in the course of time, it eventually becomes diffused through a wide variety of different species. Thus, we find that there is not only one species that is able to fly, there are many different species that are able to fly; there is not only one species that is equipped with eyes, there are many species that are equipped with eyes; there is not only one species that is able to live in the water, possessing a respiratory system based on gills, there are many species that live in the water and possess a respiratory system based on gills; there is not only one species that can climb trees, there are many species that can climb trees; there is not only one species that digs burrows in the ground, there are many species that dig burrows in the ground; there is not only one species that produces protective shells, there are many species that produce protective shells; there is not only one species that gives birth to live young and nurtures and protects them until they are able to fend for themselves, there are many species that do so; there is not only one species that produces bright flowers that attract pollinating animals, there are many species that do so; and on and on for all the many different useful traits and abilities that exist in the natural world.

And yet, in the case of our own species, we find a very conspicuous anomaly or exception to this general trend, for there exists only one species – namely, human beings – that are able to understand complex mathematical formulas, that are able to manipulate, on a very wide scale, the evolution of other species in ways that please us, that are able to create an astonishingly wide variety of non-living creations, that are able to devise complex theories that correctly explain the operations of the Universe, and so forth. It is as if, in the natural world, there existed only one species that is able to fly – and no other, only one species that produces a hard protective shell, only one species that is able to live in the water by breathing with gills, or only one species that produces pollen and nectar-rich flowers to attract organisms that help fertilize their seeds. What is more, there is no species that comes remotely close to being able to do the things that we humans can do. Because evolution by natural selection proceeds by gradual and continuous means, it simply cannot account for the kind of large discontinuity that clearly separates and distinguishes our species from all other species. In other words, the inescapable conclusion from our extraordinary human abilities, which are not possessed by the members of any other species, is that our unique human abilities were the result of divine – and not natural – selection and intervention, since the other kind of selection, human selection, can obviously be ruled out in this case.

Between these two very different evolutionary principles – natural and divine selection – is it possible to decide which species, or which of their characteristics, arose from natural, and which from divine, selection? There are many instances where it is difficult to do so because, first of all, God does not feel the need to sign Its creations or clearly indicate Its interventions, as many human creators do. Second, in both cases, there exists a gradual record, such as the record provided by fossils, of the changes in the creature’s form and function or abilities.[1] In the past, religious people believed that God created all the different living species by fiat, and simply willed them into existence. But there is no reason why those who believe in God must deny natural selection, which, in my opinion, is an irrefutable scientific fact; for the Theory of Evolution by natural selection does not occlude the possibility that, periodically, God can intervene, and has intervened, in the development of Life, or in the development of a particular species, in order to direct its development in a certain manner, as God very clearly intervened during the evolution of our own species by endowing our ancestors with abilities that are not possessed by any other species – and, moreover, that simply could not have developed by chance mutations or by natural selection.[2] In other words, the fossil record, which many people take to be irrefutable proof for the truth of the Theory of Evolution and the falsehood of the belief in divine intervention, is in reality the result of a mix of both natural and divine selection.

Hence, the widely accepted evolutionary argument that a species that developed gradually, or acquired an ability, adaptation, or useful body part gradually, must necessarily have done so as a result of natural selection, is no proof that this is due to natural rather than to divine selection. In the case of human creations, there also exists a gradual progression in styles, movements, and techniques; but clearly these are all the result of choices made by their human creators, or the imitative influence of one person on another person. In other words, in the realm of human creations, all progress is the result of human, and not natural, selection.

In the past, religious people dogmatically asserted that God made everything in the world and Universe. Then the evolutionists came along and declared that, on the contrary, all life actually arose from entirely natural, meaning non-divine, processes. Today, there are many devout scientific believers who dogmatically assert that there is no God, and that all life forms arose solely by the natural processes of random mutations and natural selection. And yet, it is obvious that we humans have been selecting many organisms to suit our particular needs and preferences, in clear violation of the principle of natural selection. Hence, if we humans can do so, then surely it is possible for a much greater Being to do so as well. In such matters, it is best for us neither to incline dogmatically towards the religious dogmatists, nor towards the scientific dogmatists, for such a myopic view will prevent us from understanding the complex and heterogeneous truth about the world we live in.

[1] In the case of species whose evolutionary lineages were separated a very long time ago, when it is found that they possess a shared ability, such as the ability to fly or spin silky thread, it is possible that these abilities did not evolve independently through natural selection, as is presently believed, but rather that, having come up with a particular useful ability, God then endowed other very different creatures with it as well. In the case of human creations, this kind of cross-fertilization, where an idea from one art or discipline is borrowed and applied in a completely different art or discipline, is common. Since there are many other similarities between human and divine creation, it is also possible that God does the same thing.

In the case of the ability to fly, although all birds are believed to have evolved from a common reptilian ancestor, bats, being mammals, obviously did not acquire this ability through this shared heritage; and neither did all the many different kinds of flying insects, whose wings, which need to support a much lighter creature, are structurally and compositionally very different from either bird or bat wings. Flying fish, whose wings are modified fins and, when fully extended, resemble insect wings in appearance, by spending a significant portion of time above the water’s surface, are able to escape predators more easily, since the resistance of air is much less than the resistance of water. In my opinion, this is an example of God the Creator endowing a species with a morphological feature that is usually possessed only by very different kinds of creatures.

[2] In his book, The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins makes the spurious distinction between replicators and survival vehicles. However, in the context of this discussion, there is an important distinction that many people, including evolutionary biologists, fail to make, such as when they declare that, as a result of natural selection, an organism or species or organisms acquired this or that ability. The distinction I am referring to is the important distinction between the selector of certain abilities or morphological features and the generator of those abilities or features. For the fact, which is often overlooked, is that, while natural selection can select certain features of organisms, it cannot generate any of them. In the case of human behaviour, it is obvious that it is not natural selection that generated the many different exceptional abilities that are possessed only by human beings, which abilities probably have not been possessed by any other organisms during the long course of the existence and development of Life on Earth.