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Echolocation ‘evolved in the same way’


morgueFile.com/aconant 7787-dolphin-2
Published: 3 October 2013 (GMT+10)

Sonar was originally an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging. As the name suggests, it is a detection method using echoes of sound to detect objects and measure their distances and speeds. However, scientists were taken by surprise when they found that bats and dolphins use exactly the same process. Just like man-made systems, they have ingenious ways to avoid being deafened by their own echoes. Indeed, the living sonar systems are much better than man-made ones. Using the principle of analogy, much used by Darwin himself, one would think that the living sonar systems also had an ingenious engineer behind them.1

Non-evolution of echolocation

However, the prevailing dogma is that things made themselves by random mutation and natural selection over millions of years. Yet, there is no evidence from the fossils that sonar systems evolved. One evolutionist admitted that the bats which are the ‘earliest’ (according to evolutionary ‘dating’ methods) are already fully formed:

Hallmark features of [bats] include the elongated fingers that support the wing membranes and the extensive coiling of bony structures in the inner ears, a sign that they were capable of detecting the high-frequency chirps used in echolocation.—Sid Perkins
Hallmark features of these creatures include the elongated fingers that support the wing membranes and the extensive coiling of bony structures in the inner ears, a sign that they were capable of detecting the high-frequency chirps used in echolocation.2

Recently evolutionists led by Stephen Rossiter, a biologist at Queen Mary, University of London, have tried to trace evolution of echolocation systems in some of the genes involved in bats and dolphins.3 Their detailed “analysis revealed that 200 genes had independently changed in the same ways.”4

First, this is like trying to say that man-made sonars evolved by tracing changes in the individual components with no regard for how they are organized. Second, it is remarkable that so many genes ‘independently changed’ in the same way. Statistically, what are the chances or probability of this happening in the correct manner? Practically zero. It is just not feasible.

Note that if evolutionists thought that bats and dolphins shared a recent common ancestor, they would assert that the common features were homologies—attributable to descent from a common ancestor. However, this is not an option here, because evolutionists believe that bats and dolphins diverged much earlier. So the common features are called homoplasies—explainable not from a common ancestor but from ‘convergent evolution’ for a common function.

The ubiquity of homoplasy

However, such homoplasies are widespread, and this undercuts much of the appeal to homology as evidence for a common ancestor to begin with. That is, how do we know whether a supposed homology is not really a homoplasy? This is not just a hypothetical question. For example, for a long time, evolutionists claimed that whales evolved from mesonychids, an extinct group of land-dwelling carnivores, because of alleged homologies. However, because of molecular similarities, evolutionists now say that whales came from artiodactyls (even-toed hoofed animals, such as camels, cattle, pigs, deer, giraffes and hippopotamuses).5

Some geneticists recognize how this latest result undermines homological arguments for building trees of evolutionary descent (phylogenies).

Indeed, some geneticists recognize how this latest result undermines homological arguments for building trees of evolutionary descent (phylogenies). Genomicist Todd Castoe from the University of Texas, Arlington calls it “bittersweet”, as one report states:

Biologists building family trees are likely being misled into suggesting that some organisms are closely related because genes and proteins are similar due to convergence, and not because the organisms had a recent common ancestor. No family trees are entirely safe from these misleading effects, Castoe says. “And we currently have no way to deal with this.”6

Common designer

Science should be about finding the correct explanation, not the materialistic explanation. And one indeed exists. The observed uniformity is consistent with a particular subset of intelligent design: the biotic message theory, as proposed by Walter ReMine. That is, the evidence from nature points to a single designer (the homologies), but with a pattern which thwarts evolutionary explanations (the homoplasies). That is, unlike evolution, biotic message theory not only explains homologies but also homoplasies and convergences.7

Furthermore, in most cultures around the world, such a pattern of commonality would bring honour to a Designer, and would also indicate the Designer’s authority over and mastery of His designs.8 Sonar systems are yet another example of an ingenious Design Engineer, which could only be the God of the Bible.


  1. See Sarfati, J., By Design, ch. 2, 2008. Return to text.
  2. Perkins, S., Learning to listen: How some vertebrates evolved biological sonar, Science News 167(20):314, 2005. Return to text.
  3. Parker, J. and six others, Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals, Nature, 4 September 2013 (Epub ahead of print) | doi:10.1038/nature12511. Return to text.
  4. Pennisi, E., Bats and dolphins evolved echolocation in same way, news.sciencemag.org, 4 September 2013. Return to text.
  5. Fossil Finds Show Whales Related to Early Pigs, Reuters, 19 September 2001. Return to text.
  6. Cited in Pennisi, Ref. 4. Return to text.
  7. ReMine, W.J., The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory, Saint Paul Science, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, 1993; see review: Batten, D., J. Creation 11(3):292–298, 1997; creation.com/biotic. Return to text.
  8. Holding, J.P., ‘Not to Be Used Again’: Homologous structures and the presumption of originality as a critical value, J. Creation 21(1):13–14, 2007; creation.com/original. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Rose R.
I totally agree with James H and loved the quote. I have for a long time thought that as more and more is learned about how amazingly complex living creatures are; evolutionists must be either totally deluded/brain washed or are knowingly making up one "just so" story after another. It must be getting more and more difficult for intelligent people to hold onto their belief (faith) that everything was made by accident/chance without any outside influence. Surely more and more of them must be thinking that this just doesn't make sense (evolution). To believe it either takes far more faith than I could ever possess or a much more active imagination and lack of scruples.
I also wonder sometimes if the hostility evolutionists show towards creationists is because deep down inside they are actually embarassed by the drivel they are forced to profess to believe. Another great article-keep them coming.
Hans-Georg L.
Other homoplasy, presence of xanthines (coffeine or teine, theophylline and theobromine) in widely different plants.

As a ‘coffie junkie’ I had no difficulty finidng that one, only wondered why it took me so long (wrote part of a French article on blog about it).
michael S.
Yes, it's a great article Jonathan, it really nails it, because you've highlighted those problems with evolutionary thinking. I guess a lot of evolutionists just choose to ignore these things by faith.

It just shows how the propaganda and hype of evolution never matches up, and the bad attitudes aren't even always shared by the evolutionary scientists doing the work, on the ground. Here you've quoted some very tentative statements, that should lead evolutionists to humility, given how inadequate their theory is in explaining the facts correctly yet they end up declaring evolution zealously. In some cases they even sound like madmen at times, but that kind of zeal tends to come from the real die hard anti-theists.
Michael I.
Fantastic article. I must say that everyone at CMI is doing a fantastic job especially when met with such hostility from the other side of the field (evolutionists). Dr. Sarfati, great article. I make an effort to read CMI's daily articles but I must say that I make it a point to read your articles. Great job Dr. Sarfati and everyone at CMI, God bless.
James H.

“This is like trying to say that man-made sonars evolved by tracing changes in the individual components with no regard for how they are organised.”

That's letting the evolutionists and atheists off too lightly, because each individual component has got to be created/engineered to specific tolerances according to a blue-print/detailed operating algorithm, and—there has to be machines to make those individual components and those machines have engineered components them-selves and so and so forth. It’s irreducible complexity all the way down!

For these evolutionary ‘scientists’ to say that some-thing as gob-smackingly technically complex as SONAR (as seen in dolphins and the similarly complex systems used by bats) could have been arrived at without the direct intervention of a supreme Intelligence simply demonstrates how pathetically ludicrous these characters are becoming!!

A phrase from the Roman philosopher Boethius (AD c 500) springs ineluctably to mind:

Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.

(If you had kept your mouth shut, then, we would have thought you clever!)
[Sir Humphrey Appleby's paraphrase in the classic British political satire Yes Prime Minister; literally, “If you had stayed silent, you would have remained a philosopher.”—Ed.]

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