August 29, 2011

Insects and Their Instincts

I’ve discussed the physical complexity of creatures but have not yet discussed the mental complexity of creatures, which in some ways seems more amazing than the physical dimension. Now, it is interesting to me that Darwinian evolutionists mostly avoid trying to explain the development of complex behaviors. Evolution mostly focuses on how the physical aspects of animals changed through time. However, perhaps one of the biggest quandaries with naturalistic evolution is that the physical attributes would be useless without corresponding mental abilities. So, mental circuitry had to be developed simultaneously with physical designs. No animal would survive, for instance, if it had no desire to eat. No bat would be able to “see” unless it instinctively used its echolocation and could interpret it. Birds would not be able to keep their wings in top shape unless they instinctively knew to preen the feathers. The list could go on indefinitely. Instinct is necessary but can be highly complex.

Insects are of special interest to me personally. Every insect seems to know its purpose in life and be busy going about doing its business with efficiency and skill. Every flying creature knows how to fly. Every bug knows where to find food. Every spider knows how to make its web efficiently. There does not seem to be a single creature that is in the process of figuring out their equipment or mutating the instinctual ability to more adeptly survive. Insects are so perfectly designed to do what they do. Random evolution cannot come close to explaining this complexity of behavior. If insects are slowly, randomly evolving into other insects with new physical features then there should be plenty of insects that act with great inefficiency and that are confused about what to do and how to do it. Random evolution would never produce insects that are all efficient and that have complex instincts.

The first point of consideration is how does DNA determine instinctual behavior? How does a bunch of instructions in a genome specify that an ant will build an anthill, for example? Any robotics engineer will tell you that it cannot be just a couple of simple routines that define how the ants build their anthills. It takes a good number of efficient algorithms. The DNA has to be very precisely constructed to produce the “intelligent” behaviors we see in creatures. It’s not anywhere close to being as simple as an on and off switch. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of switches precisely sequenced and put to the right settings.

The sheer complexity of instincts in creatures is overwhelming. How random changes in organisms could ever produce such efficiency and complexity is beyond baffling. It’s impossible. For every one random beneficial change, you’d have tens of thousands of random harmful changes. Random changes would tend, then, towards a loss of complexity of behavior. You would end up with very little unnecessary efficiency. Only the complexity that was highly beneficial to survival would be selected. Anything else would quickly be randomly mutated out of existence.

Consider ants some more. There are ants that literally work as farmers and grow fungi and harvest it. Ants seem to have memories. An ant will go out scouting for food and know about how far it has travelled from home based on its number of steps and the position of the sun. Ants can run tandem with each other, slowing down or speeding up based on the speed of the other ant. They can communicate with pheromones. They can store up for seasons of drought. They can literally shepherd aphids and harvest honeydew from them. They will move the aphids to “greener pastures” when necessary. All of these things are relatively complex behaviors that require complex circuitry. Their brains are hardly large enough for much of any inefficiency. I believe it is clear that random mutations cannot explain this kind of instinctual efficiency. Some of the instincts are unnecessary. Ants did not need to learn how to shepherd aphids. They could have survived just fine (like most other ants) without this complex behavior. Darwinism cannot account for this specialized design in ants.

One example that I like is a little inchworm that can drop down from trees using a silk-like line. Producing this silky substance would take many genetic changes, and the instincts needed to use it would also take a separate set of genetic modifications. One set of changes would be useless without the other set of changes. Insect life is filled with examples like this where one set of physical changes would be useless without a companion set of changes in instinct. As said before, we have to wonder why there aren’t organisms with physical designs that are not yet being utilized, since the instinctual changes haven’t occurred yet. The necessary instinctual changes would always be after the physical changes.

This same inchworm can also literally roll its silk line back up when it wants to. It flexes to the left and then to the right repeatedly to collect the line into a ball in its “feet.” By doing this, it is able to slowly make its way back up to the tree branch from which it came. This is a good example of a relatively complex behavior that is not highly necessary for survival. Consider the instincts that this little worm needs just to wind up the line: (1) it has to somehow determine that it doesn’t like the place where it came down, (2) it has to know to flex back and forth repeatedly, (3) it has to continue this behavior until it gets back to the top, and (4) it has to relocate and drop down in another place when it gets back to the top. These four points seem simple but would undoubtedly take thousands and thousands of genetic changes. An undesigned, random evolution cannot account for this complex genetic “program” that defines this instinct, since it would probably take billions of years to randomly stumble upon it. And, even when this instinct would randomly evolve, it would likely be shortly mutated out of existence, since it doesn’t seem to be important for survival. If it were important for survival, then the inchworm would have gone extinct before it could evolve the behavior.

Life is replete—completely filled to the brim—with examples like this of complex and efficient designs. Naturalistic evolutionists openly admit that Darwinian evolution does not normally produce greater and greater complexity. They know that randomness cannot do that! But, if uncreated evolution does not normally produce increased complexity, then whence came all the complexity in life? Efficiency in designs and instinct is the rule not the exception. If naturalistic evolution predicts complexity will be the exception not the rule, but life has complexity as the rule, then it is a poor, poor theory that is not consistent with reality. In other words, it is a failed theory since it cannot accurately account for reality.

(Other beautiful examples of complex behaviors: (a) honeybees that can visit flowers using the shortest route to conserve energy, (b) flying fish that maximize their time flying in the air by using the right angle of exit from the water, (c) birds that can fly so adeptly as to precisely copy the motions of moths they are chasing, (d) spiders that create designs on their webs to attract insects, and (e) whales that can travel in extremely straight lines for hundreds of miles. Now tell yourself a hundred times that these things "just happened" and maybe you'll believe it...)

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