“That’s where Evo Devo comes in, attempting to explain a process through which a single- celled egg develops into a multibillion-celled animal, and why there are such deep connections among animals” Where do they all come from?
So what is evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo)? According to B. K. Hall professor of Biology “Evo-Devo opens the black box between genotype and phenotype, or more properly, phenotypes as multiple life history stages arise in many organisms from a single genotype.” Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 491-495 (2003)
Once again Darwinism has bit off more than it can chew. While the explanations from Darwinists have become more complex (like Fizzbin) the problem remains the same. How do you account for the diversity of all the life on earth through one or a few original forms? Evo-devo is supposed to solve this mystery for us by opening the black box with a treasure trove of “Endless Forms”. It will solve the paradox of homology and homoplasy (see my critique on homoplasy here)
What is in this ancient elixir for our Darwinian ills? It is a set of regulatory genes that functions like some master switches for other genes. Genes like (Hox, Pax, bHLH, zinc finger and various homeobox-type genes) are conserved, which means they don’t change very much through the evolutionary process. By the same token when these master genes does change, their effect is also more dramatic.
Darwinists are like poor marksmen who keep missing their mark. The discovery of these regulatory genes is significant but not for Darwinian evolution. Think of them like a master switch in a modern smart home. Flipping on a switch will automatically brew your coffee and make your toast in the morning, as well as setting the proper temperature for you to wake up, preheat the water for your washing, download the relevant news from the internet or any number of conveniences. The question or problem becomes even more daunting now for Darwinists to answer. Where did this master switch come from, through random chance and selection? It would be preposterous to claim such a symbiotic system could have evolved in such a way. The functioning genes rely on the regulatory genes to turn them on in order to function. The regulatory gene’s only purpose is to regulate the function of the coding genes. It is a system of irreducible complexity. A Darwinists might speculate that the functioning genes came first and over time these gene were inhibited and enhanced by some transcriptional elements. Both the inhibiting and enhancing function much exist at the same time. So the first obstacle for Darwinism is to determine the origin of these genes.
The second problem is the specific detail pathways of these genes. Where are the empirical evidences for the incremental or spontaneous morphology of these genes? For instance are there examples of a Pax-6 gene that control the gradation of how well the eyes can see i.e. 20/20, 20/40, 20/75, etc.. ? Some have placed the development of these regulatory functions to Precambrian. There are two problems with this hypothesis. By pushing the development of these genes that far back makes it unfalsifiable and it inherits the same problems with the origin of life and not just evolution.
Finally, the biggest challenge is still the convergence problem. Contrary to Darwinian claims, discovering similarities between these genes across different species does not support a mechanism for convergence. It only exacerbates the problem. It is true while convergence will no longer require numerous chance coincidence of converging on the same mutation to create the same morphology in evo-devo. Each of the changes in the regulatory genes would produce huge changes. There is no evidence that the same changes that produce new phenotypical changes can be repeated. As a matter of fact evo-devo suffers the same problem as its predecessors. There is no empirical evidence of any macroevolutionary changes due to a change in these regulatory genes. Sure they can grow antennae in place of wings on a fruit fly and an eyeless fish, but how about a frog from a fish. Unfortunately, evo-devo is just the new age twist on a not so ancient tool kit.