Insects are amazing creatures. One of the most mind-rocking discoveries about them was made by Karl von Fritsch back in the 1940s when he worked out the significance of the honeybee waggle dance. This astonishing behavior occurs inside a pitch dark hive when a bee returning from a feeding foray does a dance that signals to other bees - which feel the dancer's moves with their forelegs - which direction and how far they should fly to find food. The dance even factors in such variables as windage. It's truly astonishing and, as an article by Caroline Williams at New Scientist tells us, how and why such a behavior could have evolved is a profound mystery.
Now new research is suggesting that honey bees usually ignore the dance and rely on other methods to find food, but if the dance is irrelevant the mystery just deepens. After all, the dance is still an accurate code for finding food so the question of how and why an insect with a brain smaller than a grain of sand developed such an elaborate behavior is still unanswered. Moreover, if the dance is unnecessary or ignored then we're faced with the question as to how it evolved when it doesn't confer any particular advantage on the bees. We're also confronted with the puzzle of explaining, if the bees don't need it and don't pay much attention to it, how and why it's retained in the genome.
Since we're asking difficult questions about the evolution of insect behaviors that are excruciatingly difficult to explain in terms of purely mechanistic processes, here's another - butterfly metamorphosis. How did it come to pass that a caterpillar could build around itself a chrysalis, completely dissociate the cells and tissues of its body inside the chrysalis, and reorganize those tissues in the form of a butterfly? To think that such a process could have evolved solely by chance is not unlike thinking that a computer programmed to build motorcycles could, by randomly jostling the bits and bytes of software code, reprogram the computer to build fighter jets.
I have no problem with the notion that metamorphosis developed over time and that mutation and natural selection played a role. My problem is with believing that such a process could occur without the guidance of an intelligent mind. It takes more faith than what I can muster to believe that natural processes alone are sufficient to accomplish such miracles.
People sometimes say that Christians must check their reason at the door of the church, but no one must suspend his reason or his skepticism more often than the materialist who believes that metamorphosis evolved solely by the chance concatenation of physical forces.RLC