I wanted to report on this earlier, but time constraints have not allowed me to until now. But what better day to bring this to attention than on “Darwin Day”.

A previous report, published in PLOS: Biology, entitled “Bushes in the Tree of Life“, has demonstrated that it is likely impossible for the scientific community to ever be able to properly reconstruct the “tree of life” that it commonly subscribes to. The main issues concern parallel evolution, horizontal gene transfer, and the general effects of negative mutations on long branches. Basically, what they are saying is that genetic analysis has come up with various conflicting tree lines and there is no way to tell which line is correct, and so, the above “explanations” are required to show why this can be so if evolution is true.

More recently, an article has been published in the Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences entitled “Inaugural Article: Evolution: Pattern Pluralism and the Tree of Life Hypothesis“, that basically reiterates the issues found the the above paper, and takes an even more critical look at the tree itself, suggesting that such a tree does not even exist at all – except in the minds of Darwin’s followers.

Creation-Evolution Headlines has an excellent article describing the paper:

Darwin’s “Tree of Life” is a myth. It’s based on circular reasoning. It is a pattern imposed on the data, not a fact emerging from the evidence. We should give up the search for a single tree of life (TOL) as a record of the history of life on earth, because it is a “quixotic pursuit” unlikely to succeed – and the evidence is against it. Who said this? Not creationists, but a new member of the National Academy of Sciences in his inaugural paper for the academy’s Proceedings

Elsewhere, the authors chide critics of evolution. They clearly do not want their statements to fuel the controversy. Darwin’s Tree of Life may be false, but it was a useful lie that got many biologists fired up about a new path of inquiry. That being accomplished, they no longer need the metaphor. The metaphor of a tree is getting in the way of further understanding…

Radical as this paper seems, others have echoed similar ideas. Carl Woese, the one who reorganized taxonomy into three kingdoms (archaea, bacteria, and eukarya), wrote an article with Nigel Goldenfield in Nature last week that is even more radical. They even call it revolutionary. “The emerging picture of microbes as gene-swapping collectives demands a revision of such concepts as organism, species and evolution itself” they said in a Connections article called, “Biology’s next revolution.” In a hail of verbal gunfire, they talked about an “extraordinary time for biology” in which multidisciplinary approaches and new definitions and concepts are about to overturn much of what we thought we knew about evolution. Such new concepts might even include cybernetics and information theory. Old Darwin himself may have to step back, and share the limelight with none other than his despised rival, Lamarck…

Once in awhile, among the hundreds of tedious titles in scientific journals about the effect of gamma rays on marigolds or whatever, a paper announces its presence like a trumpet. Without news sources like CEH to bring these papers to the attention of the lay public, this blast by Doolittle and Bapteste might have been muted. The intellectual elite readership in academia, already deafened by Darwin, might fail to heed its warning. They might explain it away as a false alarm, or hush it up. No longer: the trumpet has sounded! Darwin’s Tree of Life is fallen!…

More… (source)

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