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1st November, 2010

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Bee-brained geniuses

You're about to embark on your dream vacation in which you will be visiting over fifty destinations scattered unevenly across the entire country. Gas and accommodation costs will rapidly eat into your savings, so you decide to find the most efficient route possible. As you stare glaze-eyed at your wall map, decorated with fifty colored pins representing your dream stopovers, you quickly realize that you haven't got a clue how to figure it out. So you take the problem to your local computer geek and ask for his help. He in turn contacts a mathematician friend, and so on ad infinitum. He eventually comes back to you with his report: it would take a computer days to solve the problem. He advises you to just do the trip following whatever route seems to you the most efficient.

People whose business takes them all over the place have been aware of the "Traveling Salesman Problem" for a long time. The current computer algorithm for calculating the shortest route involves comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the shortest, a method that requires an enormous number of calculations.

It goes without saying that scientists were astounded and astonied recently to discover that bumblebees, with brains the size of a grass seed, can outdo geeks and mathematicians. Carefully-planned experiments showed that "bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order" (Tiny brained bees solve a complex mathematical problem). One researcher reported that,

Despite their tiny brains bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behavior. We need to understand how they can solve the Travelling Salesman Problem without a computer. What short-cuts do they use?

Staggering. Unbelievable. United Parcel Service, among others, would love to know how they do it. But let's not get side-tracked; back to the bees. It makes sense that such a skill would be of enormous value to an animal that uses a lot of energy in flying; the less wing flapping that must be done the better. In all likelihood, bumblebees simply could not survive without the ability.

Nobody knows how many other animals may be capable of similar or even greater feats of mathematical prowess. But even if the humble bumble is the only animal that can do it, evolutionists should be tossing and turning in bed all night long trying to figure out how a random series of mutations could possibly produce the complex brain microcircuitry

with all the synapses and gated channels and who knows what all else - not to mention the "software" to run it - that it would take to make such a super computer.

Stop and think about it. Evolutionary change is supposedly brought about by the accumulation over the eons of numberless tiny structural or functional innovations, each of which is introduced when one or more of the thousands of base pairs that make up a single gene in a sperm or an egg suddenly and spontaneously turn maverick and alter the blueprint of embryological development. As evolutionists admit, such alleged mutations would almost invariably produce an inferior product. The rickety evolutionary belief system is propped up by a pipedream; occasionally such a mutation wins the lottery. Bingo! The happy little offspring comes into the world beaming with delight, the proud possessor of a new. well. something beneficial - an innovative feather shape, more springy cartilage or, perhaps, less springy cartilage (either might prove an advantage according to the evolutionary belief system), a bigger eye, a smaller eye, a digestive enzyme that can tackle the lignin in grass, or whatever.

In the case of bumblebees, at some time in the distant past the sperm of a computationally-challenged pre-bumblebee mutated producing a grub which then metamorphosed into an adult bee with one or two (maybe even three) synapses in the brain that now said "stop" to nerve signals instead of the usual "go" (or vice versa). Wow! What a great start. All you need now is a few thousand more such changes in synaptic connections - and in precisely the right order - and who knows but that a sophisticated mini-computer might gradually come into being. Of course, such a development would be utterly impossible for a simple reason. Unless every little incremental change conferred some advantage upon the offspring, the changes would not be chiseled in genetic stone. They would be washed out of the population due to their uselessness.

Do you see the point? To work properly, the system has to work properly. It cannot do that unless the entire circuitry is in place, functioning perfectly from the get-go. The theoretical mechanisms that underlie evolutionary progress are shown to be utterly bankrupt of credibility when you actually take the time to try to imagine how they can account for any feature or function of any living thing you care to name. Hats off to Richard Dawkins for his courage in declaring that, "An eye can evolve at the drop of a hat". That one should win the Darwin Award for dumb sayings hands down.

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