COLUMBUS, Ohio – Richard Sterne shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday for a share of the lead with Derek Fathauer and Justin Thomas in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the third of four events in the Web.com Tour Finals. Sterne had an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys to match Fathauer and Thomas at 5-under 208 on Ohio State’s wind-swept Scarlet Course. ”It’s firming up,” Sterne said. ”The greens are getting firm, so you can’t get close. You are struggling to make pars out there if you don’t do the right things.” The top 25 players on the Web.com money list are competing against each other for PGA Tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals and the final leader getting a spot in The Players Championship. The other players – Nos. 26-75 from the Web.com Tour money list and Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings – are fighting for another 25 cards based on their earnings in the four tournaments. Sterne got a spot in the series as a non-PGA Tour member with FedEx Cup finishes that would have placed him between 126th and 200th in the standings. Sterne hit a 6-iron to 3 feet to set up his eagle on the par-5 12th. The 32-year-old South African, No. 82 in the world, is a six-time European Tour winner and 2013 Presidents Cup player. He had hip surgery in March and was sidelined four month. Fathauer had a 76 after opening with rounds of 63 and 69 to take a three-stroke lead. He was 13th on the Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list to secure a 2014-15 PGA Tour card. ”The greens were really fast and kind of crusty around the holes,” Fathauer said. ”They were tough to make putts. It’s almost impossible to get your ball close. You’ve got to make some putts to shoot anything near even par out there.” Thomas shot 72. ”Anytime you get 15-20 mph winds, and especially with these conditions, it’s tough,” Thomas said. ”You really have to control your flight. … It was just really difficult to be committed to every shot.” Tom Hoge, Blayne Barber and Vaughn Taylor were a stroke back. Hoge shot 67, Barber 70, and Taylor 74.
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Thongchai Jaidee produced an impressive display of front-running to win the French Open by four strokes, as Rory McIlroy failed to deliver a final-round surge on Sunday. Starting the day with a two-stroke lead over McIlroy, the 46-year-old Jaidee birdied two of his first six holes and shot a 3-under 68 to finish on 11-under 273 at Le Golf National outside Paris, where the 2018 Ryder Cup will be staged. For his eighth victory on the European Tour, the Thai player collected $650,000 – the biggest cheque of his career. He described his fourth victory over the age of 40 as his ”biggest win ever.” ”I had Rory two shots behind me but I tried to play my own game, hit a lot of fairways and greens,” said Jaidee, ”and I knew this week I was putting well.” Francesco Molinari finished in second place after shooting 66, the lowest round of the final day. McIlroy couldn’t get near Jaidee. He bogeyed No. 3 and made his only birdie on No. 14, shooting an even-par 71 to be a stroke behind Molinari in third place. The fourth-ranked McIlroy regarded that as a success, considering he is in the middle of vast changes to his swing. ”I’ve got 10 days until the (British) Open starts,” McIlroy said, looking ahead to the third major of the year at Royal Troon starting July 14. ”I’m going to be working every day to try and get better and will play a bit of links golf to work on the shots I need for Troon as well. ”Even though this week it didn’t feel that good I’m obviously doing some things right.” Brandon Stone, Alex Noren, Callum Shinkwin and Richard Sterne all qualified for the British Open after finishing in the top 12.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The annual bubble watch has taken on a different tone this year at the Wyndham Championship. Sure, there will still be steadfast checking of projected FedEx Cup standings in the final week of the regular season, as players endure one last 72-hole crucible to determine playing privileges for next season. But thanks to a malleable summer schedule, there’s another race nearing its conclusion that has brought some high-profile names to Greensboro. The Ryder Cup is now just six weeks away, and while typically the teams are largely set by this stage, this year there are still two events remaining for players on both teams to earn automatic qualifying berths. There are eight such spots available on the American side, and the 11th-hour competition to secure a roster spot is fierce. Less than $50,000 separates No. 8 Patrick Reed from No. 9 Brandt Snedeker. Both are in the field this week, meaning a top-25 finish could be enough to flip the pecking order heading into The Barclays. It’s an incentive that has led No. 13 Scott Piercy to make a rare appearance at Sedgefield Country Club, and it resulted in No. 18 Jim Furyk choosing to return for the first time since 2011. But the player likely under the most pressure to perform is Wyndham debutant Rickie Fowler – a scenario that seemed implausible a few months ago. After all, Fowler was one of the hottest players in the world to start the year, backing up a three-win 2015 campaign with a convincing victory over a strong field in Abu Dhabi. That was followed by a playoff loss to Hideki Matsuyama in Phoenix, when Fowler surrendered a two-shot lead over the final two holes. Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos A bittersweet result, sure. But it was also further evidence that Fowler was likely to cruise through the balance of a busy summer schedule that would end with him donning the stars and stripes at Hazeltine. Needless to say, things haven’t exactly worked out that way. Since the Masters, Fowler has posted more missed cuts (four) than top-25 finishes (three). His best result in that stretch, a T-4 finish at Quail Hollow, was tinged with disappointment after he failed to convert a 54-hole lead, closing with a 74. Even last week’s performance at the Olympics was a microcosm for Fowler’s season: a third-round burst, just enough to reinforce his vast potential, but not enough to compensate for 54 other mediocre holes. As a result, Fowler has gone from a virtual Ryder Cup lock to a very precarious position: 12th in points and perhaps competing with the likes of Snedeker, Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson for one of captain Davis Love III’s four selections. Keenly aware of the situation, Fowler decided to book a last-minute ticket from Rio to Greensboro in the hopes of turning things around with the deadline looming. “With where I was on Ryder Cup points and knowing that the points, with Bethpage coming up, this was a good addition to the schedule,” Fowler said Wednesday. “It wasn’t something we planned on earlier in the year, but the Ryder Cup is something that means a lot to me. It’s something where I’ve been a part of two teams, and I don’t want to miss out on another one.” Fowler is in danger of doing just that, and after a sluggish summer the culprit is clear. Fowler is sixth this season on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and seventh in total strokes gained, but he sits just 56th in strokes gained putting. “It’s been a struggle ever since Abu Dhabi, not making any putts,” he said. “When putts don’t go in, you don’t have that complete confidence in the putter. It kind of can start bleeding into the rest of the game.” Fowler’s putting woes contributed in part to missed cuts at Augusta National and Oakmont, and his bid for an Olympic medal was derailed on the very first green last week in Rio when he opened with a four-putt. With the self-doubt continuing to mount, Fowler has started to tinker with his putting with increasing frequency. He has gone back and forth between conventional and cross-handed grips since the Quicken Loans National in June, including attempts with both grips last week in Brazil. While he was putting cross-handed under the midday sun Wednesday on the Sedgefield putting green, Fowler admits his mechanics remain a work in progress. “Just been something I’ve done every year or two. It’s almost like the cross-handed is a little, I guess, an aid in a way,” he said. “It actually puts me in a better position at setup. Sometimes I get a little off (with) conventional, and just a way of getting it back to where I want it to be.” That last bit could also apply to Fowler’s overall game, which hasn’t been where he wants it to be for several months now. While it’s hard to imagine a Ryder Cup team without him – especially at a domestic venue where his popularity with partisan crowds could have a tangible impact on the outcome – it is now a very plausible scenario. Fowler could still earn a pick, even without a late burst of form. But while his play has remained stagnant, his competition has picked up significantly – first Furyk’s 58 at the Travelers Championship, then Kuchar’s bronze medal performance at the Olympics. Fowler now has two more chances to nab an automatic bid, a high-stakes fortnight that begins this week with an unexpected detour to the Tar Heel State. It’s a circumstance that few could have predicted earlier this year, but it’s one that means the FedEx Cup bubble boys won’t be the only ones sweating this week at Sedgefield.
GOLD COAST, Australia – After slow starts in his past two tournaments, Adam Scott wanted to play the first round of the Australian PGA Championship like it was his last. For the first time on this trip Down Under, he’s in the red after the first round. The 2013 champion closed with three birdies for a 4-under 68 at Royal Pines Resort on Thursday and was three shots behind early leader Andrew Dodt, who opened with a 65. “It’s the last week of the year. There’s no ‘I’ll get them next week’ – (I) just have to make it count,” Scott said. “It didn’t look pretty at the start but somehow I was 2-under after 3 and then hung in there and finished well. Maybe that momentum off the last three holes is something to carry over for the rest of the week.” Half the groups hadn’t completed their first rounds when play was suspended because of lightning during the afternoon. Heavy rain prevented any further play, with the first round expected to be completed Friday. American player Julian Suri, who missed out by one stroke on getting a full card on the European Tour last month, and Ryan Fox of New Zealand had a share of second at 5 under after opening with 67s. Scott has had his frustrations on this trip back to Australia, where he’s planning on taking a vacation from next week. He opened with a 73 at the Australian Open in Sydney last month and finished the tournament six shots behind Jordan Spieth, who won in a playoff. Full-field scores from the Australian PGA Championship At the World Cup of Golf last weekend in Melbourne, Scott and Australian teammate Marc Leishman carded a 74 in an opening round that contained just one birdie. On Thursday, Scott eagled the par-5 12th – his third hole – followed by a bogey at the 18th, before he turned and then finished with the three birdies. “A quick start and a quick finish adds up to a good score,” said Scott, who won the Australian PGA Championship in 2013 and was runner-up the following year after a marathon playoff with Greg Chalmers. “I was just treading water for a while … cautious of going over the green in between clubs. “You just have to be patient and it paid off, because I birdied the last three.” Joining Scott at 4 under were Paul Waring of England, who was leading early before bogeys on two of his last five holes, and Natipong Srithong of Thailand. Jarrod Lyle produced the shot of the day with a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth. He was 3 under through 13 holes before play was suspended. “I wouldn’t say it was the perfect shot,” Lyle told the host broadcaster. “It was a little bit thin but it worked out all right.”
I’m going to miss you, Old Blue. Growing up in the north, Doral’s Blue Monster was more than a golf tournament. It was a symbol, with its shimmering beauty beamed into my living room from overhead blimp shots. Its stirring images were a hopeful sign I would soon be seeing that first robin returning home in the spring. Doral’s arrival on our family TV set was a reminder that the last patches of winter snow were about to disappear and we would soon be thrusting open our windows to let the warmth of spring’s invigorating thaw inside. Doral was a ritualistic experience. The Florida “swing” arrives this week, and for the first time in 55 years, it won’t include Doral. It’s gone, unceremoniously swept off the tour schedule last summer. It was cut loose three months after last year’s event was played, with no farewell sendoff. It was like somebody just flushed the toilet on all that rich history. That’s sad for more than South Florida golf fans. It’s sad for a generation of North Americans who once thought of Doral as the real start of the golf season, as the real start of the journey toward Magnolia Lane and the Masters. Doral was the oldest tour stop in the Sunshine State, the first stop in the Florida swing for the longest time. With Mexico wedged between the Honda Classic and the Valspar Championship, is it really still a swing? When Billy Casper won the inaugural event in 1962, John F. Kennedy was president, the Beatles were working on their first hit in the United Kingdom (“Love Me Do”) and astronaut John Glenn was being celebrated as the first American to orbit the Earth. I hate the way Doral was written off and discarded. When Casper won that first year, he beat Paul Bondeson by one shot, Jack Nicklaus by two and Ben Hogan by three. No, I didn’t see that, but I watched that unforgettable Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson duel around the Blue Monster in ’05, an epic struggle that breathed new life into the old property. Nicklaus, Trevino, Floyd, Weiskopf, Crenshaw, Norman, Faldo, Els, Woods and Mickelson all won there. The 18th hole might have been the most exciting finishing hole in all of golf, the work of Dick Wilson, a tortured genius who designed the original layout. Doral pro Frank Strafaci, however, is actually credited with giving Doral’s Blue Course its “Blue Monster” moniker. That’s what Strafaci called it after watching the 18th hole devour the hopes of so many tour pros that first year. “This is a monster,” Strafaci told reporters. “A Blue Monster.” And by the way, there’s history in the name Doral. It’s a combination of the first names of the resort’s original owners, Doris and Al Kaskel. Yes, Doral’s Blue Monster got old, another victim of golf’s power surge, another casualty that got carved up with a facelift that altered its identity after Donald Trump bought it. Trump put the teeth back into the Blue Monster, with Gil Hanse his architect, but the nature of the test changed, with forced carries and all that extended water taking away some of the genius Wilson built into the design’s playability in high winds. Who really knows why the PGA Tour cut its ties with Doral and moved its event to Mexico, whether it was solely a sponsorship issue or a Trump issue or some combination of both? It’s just a shame all the memories the PGA Tour’s greats built there are “lost in time, like tears in rain,” as director Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner said in the SciFi flick. It’s a shame we didn’t get to remember the best of times at Doral with a proper goodbye.
RENO, Nev. – Greg Owen of England had nine birdies on Saturday to take five-point third-round lead in the Barracuda Championship. Owen had eight birdies and three pars on 11 holes before a double bogey on 18 to finish a 14-point round in the modified Stableford scoring system that gave him 37 points going into Sunday’s final round. Barracuda Championship: Articles, photos and videos Stuart Appleby and Derek Fathauer both had birdies on 18 to finish Round 3 tied for second with 32 points. Ricky Barnes had 15 points, including five consecutive birdies, to move up 14 spots into fourth place with 31 points. Second-round leader Richy Werenski had three of his four bogeys on the back nine and fell into a tie for fifth with Tom Hoge, Ben Martin and Dicky Pride with 30 points apiece. The tournament is the PGA Tour’s only Stableford scoring event. The system awards eight points for a double eagle, five points for an eagle, two points for a birdie and deducts a point for a bogey and three points for a double bogey or worse.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Steve Stricker made his U.S. Senior Open debut one for the record book. Stricker birdied the opening hole Sunday and never was threatened on his way to a 1-under 69 for a six-shot victory. He finished at 19-under 261 on the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame, breaking by three shots the U.S. Senior Open record set two years ago by Kenny Perry at Salem Country Club. The 52-year-old Stricker, who still spends half of his time on the PGA Tour, won a PGA Tour Champions major for the second time this year. He also won by six shots at the Regions Tradition in May in Alabama. Jerry Kelly, who beat Stricker in a playoff last week in Wisconsin in the event Stricker hosts, shot a 69 and tied for second with defending champion David Toms, who had a 68. The victory gets Stricker into the U.S. Open next year at Winged Foot, where he tied for sixth in the 2006 U.S. Open, a key moment in resurrecting his career. Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Open Stricker led by at least five shots during the final round. Kelly only had hope briefly on the par-4 10th hole when he made birdie and Stricker made bogey. Two holes later, Stricker chipped in for birdie on the par-3 12th and the lead was back to six shots with six to play. Stricker’s bogey on No. 10 was his first since the sixth hole in the opening round, a streak of 57 holes without a bogey that shattered the U.S. Senior Open record of 43 set by D.A. Weibring in 2004 at Bellerive. Stricker made only two bogeys over 72 holes. Stricker earned $720,000. He shared a kiss with his wife and caddie, Nicki, hugs with daughters Bobbi Maria and Izzy, and then he choked up with tears during the trophy presentation. The course played tougher than it has all week with firmer greens and fairways, a north wind that blew across fairways and tougher pin positions. The Warren course surrendered 99 rounds under par over the opening three rounds. Stricker had one of only 14 rounds under par Sunday. The lowest round was a 64 by Scott McCarron, who leads the Charles Schwab Cup on the PGA Tour Champions. That brought McCarron from a tie for 46th to a tie for sixth. Tom Watson finished his 17th U.S. Senior Open at 2-under 278 by closing with a 68. It was the third time this week the 69-year-old Watson shot his age or better. Gary Nicklaus, playing in his first Senior Open after turning 50, finished at 7-over 287 after a 73 watched by his father Jack and mother Barbara.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Joel Dahmen, arguably the PGA Tour’s most underrated funnyman, had never been paired with Phil Mickelson before Thursday’s opening round. So, on the eve of the big round, the jolly 33-year-old took to Twitter. “Tomorrow I get to check off another bucket list item by playing with [Phil Mickelson]. I’ve been trying to get a game with him for six months, but I think he’s scared of my hellacious seeds,” Dahmen thumbed. Never one to sit out a social-media scuffle, Lefty fired back: “Words cannot express my excitement and jubilation to finally be paired with Joel “DaMan” Dahmen. [Bombs] will be hit and [birdies] will be made. It’s about to rain again in Charlotte.” Dahmen offered a tepid comeback, something about the PGA Tour Champions and professional golf’s version of “OK, boomer,” but on this day it was the AARP member earning the walk-off. Following an all-too-familiar birdie-bogey start, Lefty was stunningly consistent. Like Tiger Woods consistent before he started missing fairways. There were four more birdies before the turn and a flawless second nine for a 7-under 64 and a spot atop a PGA Tour leaderboard for the first time since 2019. That’s not too shabby for a distracted fifty-something who has owned recent on-course lapses in concentration and a growing fascination with something called Super League Golf. But on a perfectly spring day at the Wells Fargo Championship there were no slips in concentration, no easily-avoidable mistakes, no real mistakes, actually. Although he missed four fairways he’s first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green and 10th in greens hit (14 of 18). That’s not a Phil round. Not now, not ever. Yet there he was smiling and laughing and being Phil. “He’s a great guy,” Dahmen said. “He’s just so . . . full of information would be the way to put it.” Phil Mickelson focused on one round at a time at Wells Fargo Following a few friendly barbs on the first hole the two settled into a normal Tour routine with Mickelson filling the awkward silences with all manner of stories and anecdotes. The best tidbit from Day 1 at Quail Hollow Club? “We got in some dopamine talk, frontal lobe and dopamine, and then the units of it, which I was actually impressed with,” Dahmen said. “Then he hit a 6-iron to 3 feet, so he must have had his dopamine correct on that one.” Dopamine. You know, normal Phil stuff. But for this version of the 44-time PGA Tour winner there might be something to his know-it-all madness. It’s been that well-documented inability to focus for five hours during rounds that Lefty has said is the issue, not his game. So dopamine, which is described in one Google search as “a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan,” would be a relevant topic. Phil is always optimistic. Hope is free, after all. But it’s been hard to take him seriously the last few years. Players like Lefty’s good buddy Tom Brady have redefined what aging means for athletes but while the mind and body seem willing Lefty’s game, well, let’s just say it’s been showing more cracks. But not on Thursday. He was consistent off the tee and dismantled Quail Hollow with his iron game. But mostly what made this Thursday better than any other Thursday since last year’s Travelers Championship was his ability to remain in the present. “I’m just present on each shot. This course holds my attention,” Mickelson said. “I’ve been doing some like, you know, some mental exercises and so forth just to try to get my focus to elongate over five hours and so forth. “That’s been a real struggle for me the last few years because physically, there’s nothing physically holding me back from playing at a high level, but you cannot make mistakes at this level.” Wells Fargo Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage One player joked with Dahmen as he made his way to scoring that he’d awakened a sleeping giant with his well-intended and entertaining trash talk and having someone he could mentally spar with certainly helped keep Phil focused, but this goes well beyond some friendly back-and-forth. Despite success on the PGA Tour Champions and a looming fortune waiting if he jumps to the Super League Golf, Phil has been unwilling to give up hope on his second act. At 50 there would certainly be greener pastures waiting on the PGA Tour Champions or even the announcing booth, where he would be a coveted addition if he chooses, but where’s the challenge in any of that? As Dahmen wrapped up his media obligations Phil walked by and with a sly smile he cracked, “Hope you were paying attention.” It was funny and it was apropos because “paying attention” has been Phil’s greatest challenge as he begrudgingly enters his golden years. If he can pay attention for three more days, if he can focus like he did on Thursday, he might be able to push back against the twilight for a little while longer.
Recommended Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Cornelius G. HunterFellow, Center for Science and CultureCornelius G. Hunter is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology. He is Adjunct Professor at Biola University and author of the award-winning Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Hunter’s other books include Darwin’s Proof, and his newest book Science’s Blind Spot (Baker/Brazos Press). Dr. Hunter’s interest in the theory of evolution involves the historical and theological, as well as scientific, aspects of the theory. His blog is Darwin’s God. Share Tagscell divisioncentrobincentrosomeCharles DarwincytoskeletonDNADrosophilaevolutionfitness degradationgradationsJournal of Cell Biologymicrotubulesmodificationsproteinssciencespermspermatogenesis,Trending Evolution Life Sciences Importance of Centrobin in Sperm Development — Another Stumbling Block for DarwinismCornelius HunterMay 14, 2018, 1:16 AM Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Proteins are a problem for theories of spontaneous origins. That is for many reasons.They consist of dozens, or often hundreds, or even thousands of amino acids in a linear sequence. And while many different sequences will do the job, that number is tiny compared to the total number of sequences that are possible. It is a proverbial needle-in-the-haystack problem, far beyond the reach of blind searches.To make matters worse, many proteins are overlapping, with portions of their genes occupying the same region of DNA. The same set of mutations would have to result in not one, but two proteins, making the search problem that much more tricky.Furthermore, many proteins perform multiple functions. Random mutations somehow would have to find those very special proteins that can perform double duty in the cell.And finally, many proteins perform crucial roles within a complex environment. Without these proteins the cell sustains a significant fitness degradation. One protein that fits this description is centrobin, and now a new study in the Journal of Cell Biology shows it to be even more important than previously understood.Centrobin is a massive protein of almost a thousand amino acids. Its importance in the division of animal cells has been known for more than ten years. An important player in animal cell division is the centrosome organelle which organizes the many microtubules — long tubes that are part of the cell’s cytoskeleton. Centrobin is one of the many proteins that helps the centrosome do its job. Centrobin depletion causes “strong disorganization of the microtubule network,” and impaired cell division.The new study shows just how important centrobin is in the development of the sperm tail. Without centrobin, tail, or flagellum, development is “severely compromised.” And once the sperm is formed, centrobin is important for its structural integrity. As the paper concludes:Our results underpin the multifunctional nature of [centrobin] that plays different roles in different cell types in Drosophila, and they identify [centrobin] as an essential component for C-tubule assembly and flagellum development in Drosophila spermatogenesis.Clearly centrobin is an important protein. Without it such fundamental functions as cell division and organism reproduction are severely impaired. Yet how did centrobin evolve?Not only is centrobin a massive protein, but there are no obvious candidate intermediate structures. It is not as though we have that “long series of gradations in complexity” that Darwin called for:Although the belief that an organ so perfect as the eye could have been formed by natural selection, is enough to stagger any one; yet in the case of any organ, if we know of a long series of gradations in complexity, each good for its possessor, then, under changing conditions of life, there is no logical impossibility in the acquirement of any conceivable degree of perfection through natural selection.Unfortunately, in the case of centrobin, we do not know of such a series. In fact, centrobin would seem to be a perfectly good example of precisely how Darwin said his theory could be falsified:If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.Darwin could “find out no such case,” but he didn’t know about centrobin. Darwin required “a long series of gradations,” formed by “numerous, successive, slight modifications.”With centrobin we are nowhere close to fulfilling these requirements. In other words, today’s science falsifies evolution. This, according to Darwin’s own words.Photo: Spermatogenesis in action, by Nephron [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All
Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis If you ask your typical garden variety evolutionist, he will tell you that all is well in the land of Darwinia. But if you look behind the right curtains, you find that some highly placed, mainstream evolutionary biologists concede that neo-Darwinism is in deep crisis. They acknowledge its imminent fall even as they cling to the hope that some purely blind, materialistic version of evolution can be cobbled together to replace it.Such thinking was front and center at a recent University of Cambridge event, held April 1 to 4 on the campus of Churchill College. Entitled “Evolution Evolving,” the meeting sought to encourage novel thinking about evolution, starting from the premise that existing textbook theory fails to explain many of the most interesting and important phenomena in biology.A 2016 meeting of the Royal Society of London, which included many distinguished evolutionists, struck a similar note. Such recognition is significant, since no one bothers to look for a new theory if the one they already have is doing its job.Pretenders to the ThroneThe various new proposals include punctuated equilibrium, neutral evolution, evolutionary developmental biology, self-organization, epigenetic inheritance, and natural genetic engineering. Big claims are made for each of these variants and other versions of blind evolution. But in the end those claims — while undoubtedly believed sincerely by their proponents — have little more substance than a bluff. Each has serious shortcomings as a substitute for foresight and planning with a purpose.Punctuated equilibrium, for example, attempts to explain why we see few transitional fossils in the fossil record from one animal form to a fundamentally different animal form. But the theory offers no credible mechanism for the geologically rapid appearances that it posits. Indeed, whatever challenges traditional neo-Darwinism faces in this regard, punctuated equilibrium faces them in an intensified way, since it has less time to build new forms.Neutral evolution de-emphasizes natural selection and focuses on mutations that, at least for a long time, would have been neutral or even deleterious for fitness. The idea is that such mutations might predominate in small populations. The benefit of this approach is that evolutionists no longer have to envision a series of functionally advantageous steps from some starting point to the evolution of some new molecular machine, organ, or organism. But the benefit comes at an enormous cost, a cost its proponents tend to overlook.Neutral Evolution’s Shark-Free PoolIn his book Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen Meyer — in discussing work on neutral evolution by Michael Lynch and Adam Abegg — explains with an illustration of a man dropped into a vast but happily predator-free body of water. The lack of any predators in the analogy mirrors neutral evolution’s de-emphasis on natural selection. The man in the water just has to swim to a ladder somewhere in that vast body of water and climb out. The catch: He’s blindfolded and has no idea where the ladder is. Now, as Meyer notes, if in estimating how long it would take him to reach the ladder you calculated a fairly direct line between man and ladder, you’d generate “a fantastically optimistic estimate of the severity of the problem facing our unfortunate swimmer.” The reason: A straight line obscures the key problem the swimmer faces, namely that he has no clue where the ladder is, nor any way to gauge whether he’s getting closer to or further from the ladder at any given moment. According to Meyer, therefore, “any realistic estimate of how long it will actually take him to swim to the ladder — as opposed to an estimate of the theoretically fastest route possible — must take into account his probably aimless wandering, fits and starts, swimming in circles and drifting in various directions.”How does the analogy map onto neutral evolution? “Similarly Lynch and Abegg fail to reckon in their calculation on the random, undirected, and, literally, aimless nature of the mechanism that they propose,” Meyer explains.Instead, they mistakenly assume that neutral processes of evolution will make a beeline for some specific complex adaption. In fact, these processes will — in all probability — also wander aimlessly in a vast sequence space of neutral, functionless possibilities with nothing to direct them, or preserve them in any forward progress they happen to make, toward the rare and isolated islands of function represented by complex adaptations.The takeaway, according to Meyer: “Lynch vastly underestimates the waiting times required to generate complex adaptations and, therefore, fails to solve the problem of the origin of genes and proteins or any other complex adaptation.”A Mutant Fly in the Evolutionary OintmentThere is another problem. Evolution tends to innovate via random mutations that break things rather than by making something new, devolutionary breaks that lead to niche advantages. Michael Behe explores this pattern in his book Darwin Devolves. No new molecular machinery is built in such cases, and it’s precisely the origin of new molecular machinery and information that any evolutionary account of the diversification of life needs to account for, neutral or otherwise.The other alternative evolutionary proposals face similarly devastating shortcomings. What they all lack is the secret sauce in every great engineering success — foresight, ingenuity and planning with a purpose in mind.We must applaud the search for a replacement to neo-Darwinism. Despite all the grand claims, it has failed to explain the origin of new form. But if origins biology’s quest for answers is to be guided by evidence rather than by a dogmatic rule, we would do well to have both material and intelligent causes in our investigative toolkit. Dr. Eberlin is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, winner of the prestigious Thomson Medal (2016), and former president of the International Mass Spectrometry Society. Eberlin has published close to 1,000 scientific articles and is author of the new book Foresight: How the Chemistry of Life Reveals Planning and Purpose, from which this essay was adapted.Photo: Charles Darwin, enthroned, by Elliott Brown from Birmingham, United Kingdom [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Recommended A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Marcos Nogueira EberlinA member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Marcos Eberlin received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and served as a postdoc at Purdue University. Back at UNICAMP, he founded and coordinated for 25 years the ThoMSon Mass Spectrometry (MS) Laboratory, making it an internationally recognized research center, one of the best-equipped and innovative MS laboratories worldwide. Eberlin has published nearly 1,000 scientific articles and is a recipient of many awards and honors, including the title of Commander of the National Order of Scientific Merit (2005) from Brazil’s President, the Zeferino Vaz Award (2002) for excellence in teaching and research. Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Evolution Game of Thrones: As Darwinism Dissolves, Top Evolutionists Scramble for a SuccessorMarcos EberlinMay 22, 2019, 1:05 PM Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos TagsAdam AbeggChurchill CollegeDarwin DevolvesDarwin’s Doubtdevolutionepigenetic inheritanceevolutionevolutionary developmental biologyfitnessforesightfossil recordGame of ThronesMichael BeheMichael Lynchmolecular machinerymutationsnatural genetic engineeringnatural selectionNeo-Darwinismneutral evolutionpunctuated equilibriumRoyal Societyself-organizationStephen MeyerUniversity of Cambridge,Trending