IN OUR TIME: PHEROMONES

Today’s summary of the weakness of evidence for the theory of evolution concerns pheromones, the topic of another episode of the BBC’s “In Our Time”.

Pheromones are chemical signals between members of the same species. Honeybees and ants, for example, are known to use a wide range of pheromones constantly for a number of different purposes, as messages to one another of the same nest or hive, for such things as defence and trail-making. Eliciting sexual attraction in order to reproduce is one of the reasons pheromones are produced by a vast array of life forms, but in case you’re wondering, the scientific jury is still out on whether humans produce sex pheromones to attract a mate, so men-don’t go wasting your money on that stinky stuff which promises to do so!

Some way into the In Our Time podcast about pheromones, the intrepid host Melvyn asks one of the panel of highly educated evolutionists, what role pheromones have played in evolution. In answer, we’re told that almost any molecule can be employed as a pheromone. Different kinds of molecules evolved to become pheromones, said the expert. We’re given a few examples of pheromones in use today, and then the expert says,

“And in some cases, we have a feeling, an understanding, of how molecules just around, as it were-just leaking out-can evolve into pheromones”.

Well that’s pretty conclusive evidence, eh? A feeling! We are basing our eternal destiny on feelings? Isn’t that what atheists accuse Christians of doing? And those “feelings” only come, according to the expert, “in some cases”. Granted, the expert corrects himself and changes his noun to an “understanding”, but isn’t science about empirical evidence? Where is the detailed evidence? With all the multitude of life forms there are, all producing pheromones constantly, shouldn’t it all be wrapped up by now? The above statement is a giant leap from what is, and what is known empirically, to the assertion that we know that molecules evolved to become pheromones. Of course, if in your mind and world-view there is no Designer, then the only option left is that once upon a time, pheromones evolved.

A study of goldfish pheromones are given as an example of how molecules can become employed as pheromones, “by accident”. But again, the example describes only what actually happens in sexual attraction between goldfish. Female sex pheromones in goldfish are based on the female’s hormones coursing through its body, we’re told: no surprise there. And note that goldfish-both male and female-are still goldfish.

The next statement is perhaps more revealing of the weakness of evidence for the evolution of pheromones. What the two researchers in Canada “…hypothesised was that way back in evolutionary time, males that responded quickly were sensitive to these molecules that were basically just cues in the environment, would reach the female first”.

Here we do at least have an honest admission, that the researchers “hypothesised”. A hypothesis is not even a theory-it’s an idea which as yet has no evidence to back it up. Does it give you confidence in the theory of evolution, to find that hypotheses are presented as evidence for it? We’re given other extreme vagaries, such as “way back in evolutionary time…” Usually evolutionists are happy to slap dates onto their ideas, but we don’t even get that here.

The hypothesis continues. As time went on from the first sexual attraction between goldfish, there was selection of the generations for greater and greater sensitivity, but also for specificity, says our expert. That seems logical, but if, right at the start, “way back”, the female had produced nothing to attract a mate, and the male had not responded, there would be no goldfish. So isn’t it also logical that pheromones were there, at the beginning of goldfish? Where exactly is the detail of evolution? No pheromones…no sex, and so…no goldfish! Am I missing something?

Another example of claimed evolution is presented in the form of pest control in farming. Pheromones which pests recognize are identified and then synthesised by researchers, and if you send out enough of these pheromones, says the expert, pests become confused, and crops are protected. At this Melvyn asks rhetorically, “And that’s one example of evolution?” To which the expert replies affirmatively. Melvyn notes that this is “manipulated evolution”. He has a point, but doesn’t extend it into worthwhile logic, as I will here, also in the form of a rhetorical question: Why is it that you can’t invoke the work of a designer or a mind in the discussion of origins, but you can talk about the work of design in scientists’ minds? They design and create by their intelligence from information they find in nature, and still call it “evolution”: why exclude a greater designer? They are only tinkering with an amazingly intricate creation.

Is the example of pest control in evolution really evolution? The pest remains whatever it is-perhaps a weevil. It’s hasn’t morphed into anything else, it’s just been deterred, for now. What is being called “evolution” is just some smart manipulation by researchers to obtain a result.

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