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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V



     

Part III: Convergence and the Origin of man

Chapter 1

The Meaning of Convergence

     CONVERGENCE IS a phenomenon in Nature which according to some of the best authorities, is to be found in all living things, whether plant or animal. It is exactly the opposite of Divergence, which is really only another name for evolution. By convergence is meant the observed tendency of living forms, which are quite unrelated phylogenetically, to respond to similar contingencies of life by developing similar structures. These "structures" include not merely features of the skeleton itself but internal organs, organs of sense, body fluids, and even (in birds at least) such things as calls, colouration, and habits of nest building. It is as though there were in Nature some built-in mechanism whereby any animal or plant, faced with a problem that must be solved if it is to survive, can develop a structure, using this word in the wide sense indicated above, which solves that problem in a most economical and efficient way. But we may go further than this and say that such solutions have a remarkable tendency to conform so closely to a pattern, depending upon the nature of the challenge, that widely different types of animals (placentals and marsupials, for instance), which have no linear relationship as far as current evolutionary thinking is concerned, develop independently along lines so similar that if we did not have other information to the contrary they would be erroneously assumed to be very closely related.
     
The two diagrams in Fig.3 illustrate the fundamental difference between divergence and convergence.
       Because of the tremendous emphasis placed by evolutionists upon the importance of structural similarity (morphology) to establish lines of derivation, the fact that similarities can arise by entirely non-evolutionary means offers a serious challenge to current theory since, in the very nature of the case, evolutionists have no other convincing way of building their "trees" than by studying

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Fig. 3. These two diagrams are intended to illustrate the fundamental difference between divergence and convergence. The former is merely another word for evolution and makes the assumption that starting with a single animal form A one may observe that in succeeding generations descendants differ somewhat until at B and at C they are found to be quite different in form. In convergence, by contrast, after a period of time the descendants of quite different and quite unrelated forms P and X will be observed to have come to be quite alike so that R and Z would be assumed to be derived from some common ancestor . . . which in fact is not the case.

morphology (at least, as far as the fossil record is concerned), the challenge of convergence is a very embarrassing one. As a consequence, in spite of a tremendous amount of research into the fact itself, the phenomenon of convergence has in recent years been soft-pedalled. In many textbooks it is, in fact, entirely ignored. In the 1950 edition of Chambers' Encyclopedia, although evolution is treated with the usual thoroughness, biological convergence is not even listed in the general index. The thirteen-volume Oxford
English Dictionary
does not mention convergence with a biological meaning as occurring in the English language. In the 1964 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica which has pages and pages of text on the theory of evolution,
(1) convergence is covered (under morphology) by a single paragraph of eighteen lines, of which one third are actually given to

1. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1964 edition, vol.15, under "Morphology," p.819.

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the subject of divergence which, as the author notes, is simply another word for evolution. We are told that convergence is not only rare, but involves only superficial resemblances, whereas divergence is, of course, said to be everywhere pervasive in Nature.
     
As we can easily show, however, the truth is precisely the opposite. On the one hand, convergence is, as a well-known authority on evolution has said, almost universal. This is an established fact. Animals which can be shown to be unrelated have developed precisely similar structures or mechanisms which are so complex that the possibility of their having emerged purely by accident is quite inconceivable Nor are such convergences in any way superficial. They frequently are of such a nature as to involve the whole animal.
     
On the other hand, divergence (or evolution) is in no sense a demonstrable fact. If by "evolution" we mean merely the variations which may be observable between animals known to belong to the same species (varieties of dogs, for example) and still capable under proper conditions of interbreeding and produce fertile offspring, then we are dealing with a fact. But this kind of evolution throws no light upon the origin of species in the broader sense. To this extent, where convergence is an established fact, evolution is merely an "attractive theory."
     
Probably no theory based on such tenuous grounds has even been promoted with such fervour, argued so dogmatically, and accorded such universal recognition on such slender grounds as the theory of evolution. One suspects that the fundamental weaknesses in current theory, which are already being admitted in many quarters, account for the increasing hostility on the part of its chief proponents towards every serious attempt made to re-examine its basic assumptions. In one of his latest works, G. G. Simpson, (2) like a man whistling in the dark, found it necessary to assure his readers again and again that evolution is true, is a fact, is unchallengeable. In This View of Life, Simpson repeats his "variations on a theme" ad nauseam, on pages vii, 10, 12, 40, 51, 62, 63, 151, and on page 193 five times within the space of fourteen lines!
     
Ralph Gerard some years ago made this significant statement which is particularly appropriate in the present context: (3)

     When we find ourselves entertaining an opinion about the basis of which there is a quality of feeling which tells us that to enquire into it would be

2. Simpson, G. G, This View of Life, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1964.
3. Gerard, Ralph, "The Biological Basis of Imagination," Scientific Monthly, June, 1947, p.499.

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absurd, obviously unnecessary, unprofitable, bad form, or even perverse, we may know that that opinion is a nonrational one and probably therefore founded upon inadequate evidence.

     It is a comment upon the extent to which the plublic has been hoodwinked by evolutionists that librarians are in the habit of filing books on evolution under the heading of Science, Biology, or some such thing, whereas books which are a serious attempt to show the fallacies or weaknesses of current evolutionary thinking are apt to be filed under the heading of Religion.
     
It is widely agreed among those engaged in research that the uniqueness of the scientific method lies in the fact that it is fundamentally a search for error rather than truth. (4) Twenty-five years ago we were commonly led in the university to believe that the proper method of research was first of all to accumulate all the data possible and then, having done this, the truth would become self-evident. (5) By this means one was supposed to introduce strict objectivity. No one could challenge the truth thus arrived at. What has since become increasingly apparent is that no scientist ever operates in this way. There is no mere "collecting of data." We look at Nature with blinders on guided by preconceptions of what we expect to find. And our extraction of the data is, whether we like it or not, always a selective process, we end up with capta ("takens") not data ("givens"). There are no "givens" or it would be more truthful to say, everything is "given," and consequently we are forced to select, because we are not capable of seeing the whole. So the method of science, as we understand it now, is not to act as a kind of empty box into which we invite Nature to pour its substance, but to act as a filter. This filter is structured by our preconceptions, our bias, by the set of our minds which is, in fact, the motivating force which gives us the energy for research in the first place. Nature abhors a vacuum and will not usefully inform the mind that is itself a vacuum. So the evidence we find in Nature is always "for" or "against" some

4. Rudolph Flesch wrote: "For the layman, the most important thing about science is this: that it isn't a search for truth but a search for error. The scientist lives in a world where (the whole) truth is unattainable, but where it is always possible to find errors in the long-settled or the obvious. . . . So-called scientific books that are supposed to contain final answers are never scientific. Science is forever self-correcting and changing; what is put forth as gospel truth cannot be science!" Quoted by Hillier Kreighbaum in Scientific Monthly, April, 1952, p.240, from Flesch's The Art of Clear Thinking, Harper, New York, 1951.
5. Evans-Pritchard, E. E., wrote: "The whole history of scholarship whether in the natural sciences or in the humanities tells us that the mere collection of what are called facts, unguided by theory in observation and selection, is of little value." Social Anthropology, Cohen and West, London, 1951, p.64.

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particular idea which consciously or unconsciously prompts us to make the search. (6)
     
If research is therefore such a biased process, how is objectivity achieved at all? The built-in safety device which forms an essential part of the scientific method is the determination, if it is at all possible, to discover the error in an hypothesis. We make an assumption that we know what the "truth" is, and then we search with all the sincerity and honesty of purpose of which we are capable to find contrary evidence. The scientific method is in this sense a search for error, not a search for truth. And any hypothesis which does not encourage its proponents to conduct this honest search for error must be classified as philosophical rather than scientific. The stern refusal of the evolutionary Establishment to encourage its membership to challenge its own assumptions disqualifies it as a valid scientific undertaking.
    
This is why convergence is so neglected a topic. It presents a challenge in two ways, It is inimical on the one hand, as we have already noted, to the current dependence on morphology for the drawing up of evolutionary lines of descent by paleontologists in the form of phylogenetic trees, without which no textbook on the subject would be considered suitably dressed. And it is inimical, on the other hand, to the current abhorrence which most naturalists have towards the slightest admission of any kind of vitalism in living organisms, which would encourage the belief that Nature "knows what it is about" in a purposeful sort of way. That unrelated forms should assume structural parallelisms when they are forced to meet a similar challenge in their environment, implies that the process of change is not a haphazard one resulting from the play of natural selection on chance mutations, but is governed in some quite precise way by an in-built mechanism which is not merely opportunistic (to use a term favoured by Simpson) but is clearly purposeful. And the idea of purposeful behaviour in the sense which vitalists have seen it, is to be avoided at all costs, because purpose suggests a Purposer and we are at once introduced to the possibility of forces acting independently of, or outside of, the strictly causal framework of physics and chemistry. Such a Force is quite beyond science to deal with and therefore challenges its implied claim to omnicompetence.
     
Once the implications of convergence began to be understood

6. Cf. Washburn, S. L., "The Strategy of Physical Anthropology," in Anthropology Today, edited by A. L. Kroeber, University of Chicago Press, 1953, p.718: "The realization has been growing for some years that facts alone will not settle problems and that even the collection of the 'facts' is guided by a complex body of unstated assumptions."

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by evolutionary philosophers, it was quietly dropped as a subject for research and for discussion, even though at first when the evidence for it began to accumulate extensively it had been given wide recognition. Had the fact become better known prior to the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, the course of events in the life sciences might have been very different. Prior to 1858 when The Origin first appeared, a great deal of attention was paid to the relation between form and function. It was the glory of many of the mid-nineteenth century natural scientists that they had carried their studies so far along these lines that they were genuinely able to reconstruct with remarkable precision whole animals on the basis of only a few bones, simply because they understood very clearly that form is closely related to function, so that if they once knew what function a structure performed, they could re-create the whole of it on the basis of a comparatively small fragment. Virchow was a master at this. Their influence survived the emergence of Darwinism in people like Wood Jones who continued the tradition of nature study in this sense. But their works suffered neglect by the Establishment which was increasingly influenced by Darwin's obsession with morphology as the key to evolutionary relationships. It is a happy thing that some of these older works, which challenged the basic premises upon which the theory of evolution was built, have begun to appear once more as reprints. Thus Prince Petr Kropotkin's Mutual Aid has been reprinted, in which the concept of Nature as red in tooth and claw is severely challenged. (7) More importantly in the present context, Leo Berg's (8) Nomogenesis: or Evolution Determined by Law has now been re-issued as a fresh challenge to these basic assumptions by showing the extent to which the phenomenon of convergence is found in Nature at every level of life and in the development of structures which are absolutely essential for the continuance of the organism. Berg is quite aware of the implications and underscores them.
     
In the next chapter, we shall examine the facts of the case as Berg, and many others, have elucidated them. And in the final chapter we shall see to what extent convergence provides an alternative explanation for the skeletal features of pre-human fossil remains and early fossil man, features which have been almost universally presented as proof of man's animal origin.

7. Kropotkin, Prince Petr, Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, Extending Horizon Books, Boston, reprint, 1955, xix and 362 pp.
8. Berg, Leo, Nomogenesis: or Evolution Determined by Law (original Russian 1922 edition , entitled Nomogenez ili na osnove zakonomernostei), translated by J. N. Rostovtsov, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reprint, 1969.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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