Re: Fred Hoyle's `Mathematics of Evolution'

Stephen E. Jones (sejones@iinet.net.au)
Tue, 07 Dec 1999 22:47:38 +0800

Reflectorites

Here is an extract from a review of what promises to be a *sensational* book.
Astronomer Fred Hoyle's "Mathematics of Evolution", in which he examines Neo-
Darwinism and finds it wanting and as a by-product establishes Irreducible
Complexity.

I had to cut the review back, leaving only the Neo-Darwnism part, because the
review at 34 Kb was too long, but there is a web address below.

Here are some highlights from the review:

"How far does the neo-Darwinian theory work? The largest part of the
book consist of calculations of the core claims of neo-Darwinism. Neo-
Darwinism claims that evolution works by the selection of rare
advantageous mutations. These are the questions traditionally answered by
population genetics. Studying the textbooks (Fisher) he got mad and
calculated it all from scratch!... His calculations culminate in the result that
mutation and natural selection can only find advantageous protein variants
at most two base substitutions separated from the current status. These are
the limits of the power of natural selection to change existing genes. In
neo-Darwinism there are no such limits."

And:

"Next it is a small step for Hoyle to claim that the protein histone-4 could
never be produced in small steps. Why? Histone-4 has a chain of 102 amino
acids and the structure is extremely conserved in all eukaryote species.
Bovine histone-4 differs in only 2 positions with peas! And that means
extreme functional constraints must exist. Histones are necessary for
chromosome condensation during cell division. The traditional
neoDarwinian step-by-step method must fail claims Hoyle, because it
implies 100 non-functional steps. The alternative: a jump of 100 mutations
of exactly the right kind would be highly improbable [20^100 or 10^130
SJ]. The histone-4 case is in fact a case of Michael Behe's Irreducible
Complexity long before Behe published his Darwin's Black Box, since the
hand-written version of Mathematics of Evolution was 'published' in 1987."

Chris has been calling for some evidence for ID, and now he's got it!
If Histone-4 is too complex to have arisen by chance and too invariant
to have arisen step-by-step, then the *only* possibility left is Intelligent
Design.

My copy of Hoyle's book is already on order!

Steve

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http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/kortho46.htm

Was
Darwin
Wrong?

A Knighted Astronomer's Fight Against Neo-Darwinism,
Using Mathematics As His Weapon.

a review by Gert Korthof

Oct 24 1999

"The Darwinian theory is wrong and the continued adherence to it is an
impediment to discovering the correct evolutionary theory"

Fred Hoyle

There isn't any outsider who penetrated so deep in population genetics as
astronomer- mathematician Sir Fred Hoyle, with such a mathematical
knowledge, with such an integrity to find out the truth, and without
distorting his subject of investigation.

Hoyle is a lifelong Darwin, Darwinism and evolution critic. Every Darwin
critic appears to know his famous Boeing-747 story to criticise the origin
of life by pure chance. The story was much quoted, often without access to
the original source. Mathematics of Evolution originally circulated as
copies of a hand-written manuscript back in 1987, and has now for the first
time been printed. This is fortunate because his Evolution from
space(1981) and Why Neo-Darwinism Does Not Work(1982) are out of
print.

Mathematics of Evolution contains a number of surprises: Hoyle's personal
confessions in the introduction; his histone-4 case; his thorough analysis of
the infamous Haldane's Dilemma. The main part of Mathematics of
Evolution consists of his calculations of the core assertions of Neo-
Darwinian population genetics. Even if all mathematics is skipped, the
book is still worth reading. His 'Life from space' (Panspermia) hypothesis is
present at the background and comes to the surface at a few places.
Mathematics of Evolution, doesn't have religious overtones. Hoyle's
attitude can be described as: "how far does the neo-Darwinian theory
work?" with the real possibility that it does not work or only partially
works. This is in great contrast to the standard evolution textbooks. If one
adds the fact that Fred Hoyle is recognised in his own area mathematics,
theoretical physics and astronomy, then it's clear that this book is an
exciting event for evolutionists and Darwin-critics alike.

Mathematics of Evolution

by Fred Hoyle

Acorn Enterprises LLC, Memphis, Tennessee

1999

142 pages

Contents:

Foreword ix

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

1 Natural Selection and the Multigene Problem 7

2 Cell Division and Crossover 27

3 A Bisexual Model with Crossover 41

4 The Solution of the Single-Gene Problem by a Partial Differential
Equation 59

5 Sociological Consequences of Deleterious Mutation Pressure 81

6 How Far Does the Neo-Darwinian Theory Work? 97

7 The Genetic Cost of Evolution 111

7 Protein Phylogenies - More Illusions 127

7 Summary and Conslusions 135

no index, no references

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[...]

How far does the neo-Darwinian theory work?

The largest part of the book consist of calculations of the core claims of
neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism claims that evolution works by the
selection of rare advantageous mutations. These are the questions
traditionally answered by population genetics. Studying the textbooks
(Fisher) he got mad and calculated it all from scratch!

The questions he tries to answer:

Can rare advantageous mutations indeed become established in a
population, in the face of a flood of disadvantageous mutations? If so, how
fast? At what costs?

What is the effect of population size and generation time of organisms
involved?

What is the effect of asexual opposed to sexual reproduction?

How severe must selection be to have effect?

How long will it take that a population accumulates so many small
deleterious mutations, that it will go extinct?

My training in mathematics doesn't permit me to evaluate Hoyle's
calculations. I hope professional population geneticists will check out
Hoyle's results. Nevertheless it's easy to notice if the outcomes contradict
or confirm standard textbook knowledge. Hoyle builds up a tension: it is
not easy to get rid of all the bad mutations, let alone to improve a species!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
His calculations culminate in the result that mutation and natural selection
can only find advantageous protein variants at most two base substitutions
separated from the current status. These are the limits of the power of
natural selection to change existing genes. In neo-Darwinism there are no
such limits. "What the mathematics shows is that nineteenth- century
biologists were correct so long as they remained within the range of
practical experience. Where the situation went wrong was in making a huge
extrapolation ..." (p109). So Hoyle arrives at rather pessimistic conclusions
compared with the usual optimistic textbook view. Next it is a small step
for Hoyle to claim that the protein histone-4 could never be produced in
small steps. Why? Histone-4 has a chain of 102 amino acids and the
structure is extremely conserved in all eukaryote species. Bovine histone-4
differs in only 2 positions with peas! And that means extreme functional
constraints must exist. Histones are necessary for chromosome
condensation during cell division. The traditional neo-Darwinian step-by-
step method must fail claims Hoyle, because it implies 100 non-functional
steps. The alternative: a jump of 100 mutations of exactly the right kind
would be highly improbable. The histone-4 case is in fact a case of Michael
Behe's Irreducible Complexity long before Behe published his Darwin's
Black Box, since the hand-written version of Mathematics of Evolution
was 'published' in 1987. Hoyle is an Intelligent Design Theorist 'avant-la-
lettre'. What makes Hoyle different is that he doesn't talk about 'the
supernatural' and the 3-letter word. Hoyle indignantly rejects Neo-
Darwinists' "retreat in the unknowable and untestable" (p103), when they
claim that histone-4 historically had a different function and so could
evolve stepwise. Hoyle would be right if evolutionists just claimed it
without doing research. But the question is open to further investigation.
Evidence can and has been collected. Histone-precursors can be found in
ancient bacteria Archaea (5). However the origin of histones is far from
solved. This is not reported in the textbooks. It isn't even mentioned, let
alone recognised as a difficult problem (9). On the other hand: does Hoyle
seriously believe that histone-4 came hidden in a meteorite and just found
its way to an eukaryotic cell? Is that itself not a "retreat in the unknowable
and untestable"? More generally speaking: why does extraterrestrial
evolution escape the problems that evolution encounters on Earth? More
time? More space? Favourable conditions?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Haldane's Dilemma

Hoyle's efforts to investigate the famous 'Haldane's Dilemma', also
investigated by Walter Remine, results in the surprising conclusion that
"Haldane's so-called cost principle is an illusion." (p123). And since
Remine uses Haldane's dilemma as an important argument against neo-
Darwinian evolution, Remine's argument is an illusion. Furthermore Motoo
Kimura 'bases' his Neutral theory of molecular evolution on a wrong result
of Haldane's calculation of the cost of substitution. According to Hoyle do
Kimura's calculations of high costs only apply to a continuing declining
environment. Maybe this is the most sensational chapter in the book.
Hoyle's worries about deleterious mutations in the human species proved
prophetic. In January this year the geneticist James Crow (6) stated: "3
new deleterious mutations per person per generation. Why aren't we
extinct?"; "A way out is for mutations to be eliminated in bunches.

This happens if selection operates such that individuals with the most
mutations are preferentially eliminated". Hoyle's claims about the
evolutionary benefits of sex are also confirmed by remarks of Crow: "But
such a process can only work in sexual species, where mutations are
shuffled each generation by genetic recombination".

Protein evolution

Hoyle has several objections to constructing protein phylogenies. The
original situation of a protein is irrecoverable. The facts show "direct and
obvious disproof of the whole concept of protein phylogenies" (p134).
Hoyle does not give references or quotes, so it's impossible to check which
scientist draw which conclusions from which data. I suspect that current
textbooks are more careful and aware of pitfalls. He points out that the
situation with DNA phylogenies looks better, but also has its pitfalls.

[...]

Mathematics of Evolution: Conclusion

Among the Darwin-critics Hoyle delivered a unique mathematically
underpinned criticism of neo-Darwinism. His own Panspermia theory is
considerably weaker then neo-Darwinism, nevertheless functions as an
alternative paradigm, which enables scientists to see old facts and problems
from a new point of view and to criticise neo-Darwinism. And that is an
invaluable contribution to science.

Notes:

I wish to thank the publisher, Brig Klyce, for all his efforts to get the
manuscript published and so making it widely available for the first time
and for sending me a review copy.

See for an explanation of the details of the genetic code at Does life look
life evolution?.

See for an explanation of the 'central dogma' review of Lamarck's
Signature.

Comets, Contagion add Contingency, is a review of Diseases from Space
by S.J. Senn, medical statistician. This is an example how an alternative
paradigm stimulates scientific discussion. There is no mention of the
possible human/influenza genetic code mismatch problem.

Max Bernstein, Scott Sandford, Louis Allamandola (1999): Life's Far-
Flung Raw Materials, Scientific American, July 1999, pp26-33.

"The evolution of archaeal/eukaryotic histones thus illustrates that these
proteins (...), were much less constrained and evolved at a much higher rate
before their present role was fully established." p198, Lszl> Patthy(1999):
Protein Evolution. Blackwell Science.

James Crow (1999): The odds of losing at genetic roulette, Nature 397,
293 - 294 (1999)

Daniel Kevles (1985,1995): In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the
Uses of Human Heredity. Harvard Univ. Press.

Peter Harper and Angus Clarke (1997): Genetics, Society and Clinical
Practice. Bios Scientific Publishers.

"Histone" is not in Mark Ridley's Evolution and Douglas Futuyma's
Evolutionary Biology. It is present in Peter Skelton's Evolution, however
we do not learn that the evolution of histones is a problem.

Hoyle in the literature

Hoyle is definitely not ignored in the evolution literature. The following
stories circulate in the literature: Panspermia, Hoyle's famous Boeing-747
story, his cosmological design argument and the Archaeopteryx forgery.
The last three are not present in the current book. The Boeing-story in
Hoyle's own words:

A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered
and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the
chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be
found standing there? ["The Intelligent Universe",1983, page 19.]

I present the books in chronological order and subdivided in two
categories: pro- and anti-Hoyle.

Denton(1986) quotes the 2000-enzymes-argument from Evolution from
space and agrees with the impossibility of random generation of enzymes.
Yockey(1992) has 13 titles of Hoyle in his references and has the most
extensive treatment of the probability of generating protein sequences by
chance. Yockey believes that Hoyle's probability of 10-40000 "was wildly
optimistic"(!) and was in fact wrong. Yockey gives the correct calculation.
Davies(1992) reports that "Hoyle believes that the organization of the
cosmos is controlled by a "superintelligence" who guides its evolution
through quantum processes." [found in Hoyle(1981) The Universe: Past
and Present Reflections]. Foster(1993) mentions the statistical impossibility
of Darwinism and the panspermia theory. He made his own calculations
which do agree with Hoyle's, but rejects panspermia. Johnson(1993) quotes
the Boeing-747 case from Richard Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker, but has no
reference of the source. Remine(1993) lists Evolution from space in his
references, but has no authors in his index, so I don't know what he said
about Hoyle (probably he approved the argument). Barrow &
Tipler(1994), contains Hoyle's 'design conclusion' (laws of physics have
been designed) from Hoyle(1959): Religion and the scientists.
Dembski(1994) quotes approvingly the probability that a single cell arises
by chance: 10^40000 from Evolution from space. Denton(1998) has the
same quote as Behe(1999) which Denton found quoted in Paul
Davies(1982). Spetner(1998) mentions that he arrived at the same results
as Hoyle and Wickramasinghe(1982) Why Neo-Darwinism Does Not
Work, "a small book of only 34 pages". Behe(1999) quotes Hoyle in a
review of Pennock's book:

"A common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect
has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that
there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one
calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this
conclusion almost beyond question."

Behe adds: "And that, in a nutshell, is what philosophers call "the argument
for design." Behe did not give the source of his quote. Shapiro(1999)
mentions the Boeing 747 analogy in his latest book.

Cairns-Smith(1985) mentions in the beginning of his book Hoyle's and
Wickramasinghe's idea that life originated in space (no reference), but
ignores it for the rest for pragmatic reasons. John Maynard Smith(1986)
discusses Hoyle's Boeing-707(!) example (without reference to a
publication) and asks: "What is wrong with it? Essentially, it is that no
biologist imagines that complex structures arise in a single step."
Strahler(1987) tells the Archaeopteryx story on p426 and the (directed)
panspermia theory on p512. He rejects both. He doesn't mention the
Boeing-747 story. Bowler(1989) shortly discusses Panspermia and
Archaeopteryx and concludes: "These ideas have not been taken seriously
by biologists". Richard Dawkins(1991) calls the Boeing-747 story a
"memorable misunderstanding" (p234). Probably many creationists know
Hoyle's Boeing-747 story from Dawkins, but despite Dawkins' rejection,
they continue to be attracted to the story. From then on it keeps
reappearing in the creationist literature. (Dawkins doesn't mention the
publication). McIver(1992) has 4 entries about Hoyle: The Intelligent
Universe, Lifecloud, Diseases from space, Evolution from space and
mentions further Why Neo-Darwinism Does Not Work and Archaeopteryx,
the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery. According to McIver in
Diseases from Space Hoyle claims multiple injections of complete
organisms. Kauffman(1995) gives a summary of Hoyle's and
Wickramasinghe's calculation of the probability of the by chance origin of a
protein of 200 amino acids long and the by change origin of 2000 enzymes
necessary for the simplest organism, followed by the famous Boeing-747
example. He doesn't mention the publication, and got it apparently from
Robert Shapiro(1986). Dennett(1995) calls Hoyle "the maverick
astronomer" and quotes "I do not believe that any scientist who examined
the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear
physics have been deliberately designed ..." which is quoted by Barrow and
Tipler (p22) from Hoyle(1959) Religion and the scientists. de Duve(1995)
reports that biological materials in meteorites are not produced by living
organisms, but by chemical reactions. "Fairness demands that the matter be
left open until the controversy is settled". Rose(1997), a critic of ultra-
Darwinism, reports a variant of the Boeing-argument: "a hurricane
assembling a jumbo jet from its components laid out in an aircraft hangar"
from Lifecloud: The Origin of Life in the Universe and always found the
Panspermia proposal silly because it doesn't solve anything.
Hayward(1998) summarises 3 books of Hoyle. He calls Hoyle "a confirmed
non-theist" and mentions "his penchant for defending unpopular and
sometimes off-beat ideas". He also mentions the Archaeopteryx forgery.
Pennock(1999) tells the Boeing-747 story (without references) and tries to
refute it. Davies(1999) discusses all possible Panspermia scenario's, but
concludes that shunting the problem off into outer space does nothing to
address the central problem of biogenesis.

Few writers about the origin of life fail to mention Hoyle. However Hoyle
is absent from university textbooks on evolution. All creationists accept the
Boeing-747 argument, and evolutionists reject it. Yockey is the only writer
who improves the argument. A definitive answer the Boeing-747 argument
is not yet possible. The reason is simply that answering the argument means
nothing less than to solve the problem of the origin of life. As long as
science doesn't have a satisfactory and complete theory of the origin of life,
we cannot answer Hoyle's Boeing-argument.

References:

John Barrow & Frank Tipler(1986,1994): The Anthropic Cosmological
Principle, p22.

Peter Bowler(1989): Evolution: The History of an Idea, p352.

A.G. Cairns-Smith(1985): Seven Clues to the Origin of Life, p7.

Paul Davies(1992): The Mind of God, p229.

Paul Davies(1999): The Fifth Miracle, chapter 9, p243.

Richard Dawkins(1991): The Blind Watchmaker, p234.

William Dembski(1994): The Incompleteness of Scientific Naturalism in:
"Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?".

Daniel Dennett(1995): Darwin's Dangerous Idea, p314,164.

Michael Denton(1986): Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p323.

Michael Denton(1998): Nature's Destiny, p12.

Christian de Duve(1995): Vital Dust. The Origin and Evolution of Life on
Earth, p6,7

David Foster(1993): The Philosophical Scientists, p170.

James Hayward(1998): The Creation/Evolution Controversy.

Phillip Johnson(1993): Darwin on Trial, page 106.

Stuart Kauffman(1995): At Home in the Universe, p44.

John Maynard Smith(1986): The Problems of Biology, p49.

Tom McIver(1992): Anti-Evolution. A Reader's Guide to Writings before
and after Darwin.

Robert Pennock(1999): Tower of Babel, page 91.

Walter Remine(1993): The Biotic Message.

Steven Rose(1997): Lifelines. Biology, Freedom, Determinism, p256.

Robert Shapiro(1999): Planetary Dreams, p88.

Lee Spetner(1998): Not By Chance!, p119.

Arthur Strahler(1987): Science and Earth History. The Evolution/Creation
Controversy.

Hubert Yockey(1992): Information theory and molecular biology.

Links:

COSMIC ANCESTRY: The modern version of panspermia, by Brig Klyce,
the publisher of Mathematics of Evolution.

Cardiff University of Wales home page, with home page of Hoyle and
Wickramasinghe, and Bibliography concerning Panspermia.

send comments to: gert.korthof@wxs.nl homepage: Was Darwin Wrong ?
counter

Copyright (c) 1999 G.Korthof . First published: Oct 10 1999 Updated: Dec
4 1999
=====================================================================

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen E. (Steve) Jones ,--_|\ Email: sejones@iinet.net.au
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \ Web: http://www.iinet.net.au/~sejones
Warwick 6024 -> *_,--\_/ Phone: +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, Western Australia v "Test everything." (1 Thess. 5:21)
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