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Neuroscientist on the paradigm shift in biology

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2015-08-28-1440722416-7517794-DavidEdelman.jpg At Huffington Post, Suzan Mazur interviews neuroscientist David Edelman on Paradigm shift “YES)”and origin of 3D organismal form”:

Neuroscientist David Edelman, who’s currently on the faculties of the University of San Diego and the University of California, San Diego, and is the son of late Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, says he agrees that an evolution paradigm shift needs to happen.

Driver, this is our stop. Can we get out now? Anyway,

Suzan Mazur:  … From your perspective as a neuroscientist, is there a paradigm shift underway in evolutionary thinking?

David Edelman: I think there should be a shift. . . . The Modern Synthesis was a scientific reckoning — or coming to terms — among great thinkers: George Gaylord Simpson, Ernst Mayr, JBS Haldane, Theodosius Dobzhansky, to mention some of the key players. They had noble aspirations, but there was a problem in that a very determinist point of view reigned among geneticists, and genetics was an important part of the argument being made by the neo-Darwinians. They had what they thought was the basis for heritability. They thought that essentially it was all going to be gravy at that point, that they could merge the fields of natural science and genetics, using genetics to explain both heritability of individual traits and the appearance of higher taxa — new species, families, genera, etc. They were way off base at the time. I don’t think they knew just how far off base they were.

Suzan Mazur The big question right now is whether their heirs and successors even want to know. Or do they just want to shore up their shrinking basis of authority, by any means necessary? Darwinism has been good for them, if not for biology.

Edelman: There’s an intellectual crisis in modern biology. A hyper-determinist streak runs through the thinking, particularly in molecular biology and genetics. Even if researchers can’t get directly from DNA code to a 3D organism, they believe essentially that it’s simply a coding problem.

It’s actually more complex. The problem is that we cannot observe a lot of processes in sufficient detail and at all the necessary levels of interaction — either during individual development or across evolutionary time. And these processes are messier than we believe. Right now, we can’t infer processes in a systematic way regarding the relevant levels of morphological change. We don’t have the capacity to do that yet.

We may never have the capacity for complete knowledge. That would require a knowledge base that duplicates all information in the system—possible but not useful. Knowledge bases derive laws and principles instead. Edelman seems to be saying, correctly, that we do not really know how key development principles work as yet, either in an individual organism or over time.

Edelman My own scientific career, which is very checkered — I trained as a human paleontologist, I did a postdoc in gene transcriptional regulation, and then I moved on to cellular neurobiology and eventually to problems of higher brain functions — specifically the evolutionary origins of consciousness and its nature in non-human animals. What I’m saying here is that a lot of things have exerted influence on the trajectory of life.

I also think it’s in the nature of trained Western scientists to look for a big breakthrough answer. We scientists tend to admire the mechanistic reduction of classical physics. What my dad used to call a case of “physics envy.” We’d love the biological world to cooperate in the same way that the atom and everything else scaled up to the atom behaved prior to Einstein, prior to 20th century physics. For the world to be reducible in a very mechanistic way. I am leery of this conception because biology defies it at every turn. More.

Yeh. Life forms do not do what biologists tell us we are supposed to. Whatta bitch.

But stay tuned. Maybe this guy is someone we can talk to.

Origin of Life Circus Note: Suzan Mazur is the author of The Origin of Life Circus, a series of interviews with key origin of life thinkers—much recommended by the News desk here for providing an airhead-free/bimbo-free look at the evidence.

See also: Why origin of life is both a difficult and central problem

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9 Replies to “Neuroscientist on the paradigm shift in biology

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    researchers can’t get directly from DNA code to a 3D organism

    Indeed, despite decades of research, there is ZERO experimental evidence that 3-D ‘form’ is reducible to material particulars. Specifically, there is ZERO empirical evidence for the unlimited plasticity of 3-D form by mutation to DNA as neo-Darwinists insist:

    Response to John Wise – October 2010
    Excerpt: A technique called “saturation mutagenesis”1,2 has been used to produce every possible developmental mutation in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster),3,4,5 roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans),6,7 and zebrafish (Danio rerio),8,9,10 and the same technique is now being applied to mice (Mus musculus).11,12 None of the evidence from these and numerous other studies of developmental mutations supports the neo-Darwinian dogma that DNA mutations can lead to new organs or body plans–because none of the observed developmental mutations benefit the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38811.html

    Body plans simply are not reducible to DNA as had been presupposed in neo-Darwinian evolution. This fact has now been demonstrated by a few different methods:

    Peer-Reviewed Paper: Development Needs Ontogenetic Information that Cannot Arise from Neo-Darwinian Mechanisms – Casey Luskin – June 2, 2014
    Excerpt: Jonathan Wells has published a new peer-reviewed scientific paper in the journal BIO-Complexity, “Membrane Patterns Carry Ontogenetic Information That Is Specified Independently of DNA.” With over 400 citations to the technical literature, this well-researched and well-documented article shows that embryogenesis depends on crucial sources of information that exist outside of the DNA.
    This ontogenetic information guides the development of an organism, but because it is derived from sources outside of the DNA, it cannot be produced by mutations in DNA. Wells concludes that because the neo-Darwinian model of evolution claims that variation is produced by DNA mutations, neo-Darwinism cannot account for the origin of epigenetic and ontogenetic information that exists outside of DNA. (Read more here:)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....86201.html

    Body Plans Are Not Mapped-Out by the DNA – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meR8Hk5q_EM

    What Do Organisms Mean? Stephen L. Talbott – Winter 2011
    Excerpt: Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin once described how you can excise the developing limb bud from an amphibian embryo, shake the cells loose from each other, allow them to reaggregate into a random lump, and then replace the lump in the embryo. A normal leg develops. Somehow the form of the limb as a whole is the ruling factor, redefining the parts according to the larger pattern. Lewontin went on to remark: “Unlike a machine whose totality is created by the juxtaposition of bits and pieces with different functions and properties, the bits and pieces of a developing organism seem to come into existence as a consequence of their spatial position at critical moments in the embryo’s development. Such an object is less like a machine than it is like a language whose elements… take unique meaning from their context.[3]”,,,
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....nisms-mean

    In fact, completely contrary to neo-Darwinian thought, it is now found that it is the organism controlling the DNA not the DNA controlling the organism:

    Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism – Jonathan Wells – February 23, 2015
    Excerpt: humans have a “few thousand” different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,,
    The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It’s called genomic mosaicism.
    In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,,
    ,,,(then) “genomic equivalence” — the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA — became the accepted view.
    I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common.
    I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....93851.html

    How life changes itself: the Read-Write (RW) genome. – 2013
    Excerpt: Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs). This conceptual change to active cell inscriptions controlling RW genome functions has profound implications for all areas of the life sciences.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23876611

    Moreover, the irreconcilability of 3-D ‘form’ to material sub-particulars has apparently been known about for quite a long time.
    It appears that Aristotle use the ‘argument from form’ centuries ago as a argument against materialism.
    At 37:51 minute mark of following video, according to the law of identity, Richard Dawkins does not truly exist as a real person, The unity of Aristotelian Form is discussed there afterwards. i.e., Ironically, in atheists denying that God really exists, they end up denying that they themselves really exist as real persons.

    Atheistic Materialism – Does Richard Dawkins Exist? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCnzq2yTCg&t=37m51s

    Although he does not mention Aristotle by name, around the 13:20 minute mark of the following video, Pastor Joe Boot explains the self-defeating nature of the atheistic/materialistic worldview in regards to providing a overarching ‘design plan’. (its self defeating nature in regards to Aristotle’s basic idea behind his argument from form).

    Defending the Christian Faith – Pastor Joe Boot – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqE5_ZOAnKo

    “If you have no God, then you have no design plan for the universe. You have no prexisting structure to the universe.,, As the ancient Greeks held, like Democritus and others, the universe is flux. It’s just matter in motion. Now on that basis all you are confronted with is innumerable brute facts that are unrelated pieces of data. They have no meaningful connection to each other because there is no overall structure. There’s no design plan. It’s like my kids do ‘join the dots’ puzzles. It’s just dots, but when you join the dots there is a structure, and a picture emerges. Well, the atheists is without that (final picture). There is no preestablished pattern (to connect the facts given atheism).”
    Pastor Joe Boot

    Verse and Music:

    Psalm 139:13
    For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

    Citizen Way “Love Is The Evidence”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-PoM6O16a0

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    Perhaps, someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe there has been a creator/discoverer of a great, a major paradigm shift, who belonged to the atheist-materialist – naive realist camp. How they’ve got away with it so long.. really..!

    You would have thought that Einstein, (whose tone, as evidenced in many of his remarks clearly indicated his weariness at their fatuous perversity), and the quantum mechanic pioneers, would have well and truly ‘settled the hash’ of the reductionist. juvenile delinquents.

    If so, such atheist paradigm-changer must be in a very small minority, as disbelievers in intelligent design and perforce an infinitely knowledgeable Creator.

    But it ought to surprise us if it were otherwise, since what could be more condign than that a beneficent God, qua spiritual light, should act on our natural, if metaphorical, light, our intelligence, as the sun illuminates our natural world, in accordance with that same congruence to which C S Lewis alluded in his dictum:

    “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

    A Russian doll of continua; our space-time continuum, illumined by a spiritual light-physical light continuum, and apprehended by a faith-knowledge continuum, subsuming the interaction of a spiritual faith-knowledge continuum with a secular faith-knowledge continuum.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Be wary of calls for “paradigm shifts”. It usually means “I want to bring people around to my way of thinking”.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Axel @ 2

    A Russian doll of continua; our space-time continuum, illumined by a spiritual light-physical light continuum, and apprehended by a faith-knowledge continuum, subsuming the interaction of a spiritual faith-knowledge continuum with a secular faith-knowledge continuum.

    And you thought multiverse speculations were fanciful?

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    Still do, Sev. Nothing fanciful about my post. Well grounded in observable reality.

  6. 6
    leodp says:

    Sounds like we’re back to form / substance relationship questions … and everything I’ve ever been told about DNA and mutations wrt evolution is wrong. Epigenetics and ontogenetics. Form modifying code to serve it’s needs… We’re way late to the game. Plato’s cave and, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”?? (Colossians? ?2:17?)
    When do students and the public get let-in on the secret?

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    They were not great thinkers who were behind evolution in the old days or the news days if they still accept evolution.
    its just that these days better research shows things don’t work like they should if evolutions predictions were right.
    Whats this guys kob? his jumping around subjects leaves me not understanding why he knows modern biology origins is wrong??
    Yes Physic envy is real but biology is more complicated then mere physics. Obviously.
    Anyways if he is useful then great.

  8. 8

    David Edelman:
    “these processes are messier than we believe”

    I don’t think it can be called a paradigm shift to go from the simplicity of natural selection to a mess. A “mess”, presumably that means a collection of all sorts of developmental and evolutionary mechanisms.

    The “DNA worlds” theory is the right way to go for a paradigm shift. Based on the reported finding that the mathematical ordering of the DNA system, is the same as that of the physical universe. Which means there exists in every organism a 3D DNA world in it’s own right, just like a 3D computersimulation.

    It’s a great theory, why don’t people try that? Like try to get signal from DNA and convert it to a video computer signal, so we can look inside the DNA world on a computerscreen.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    ‘Be wary of calls for “paradigm shifts”. It usually means “I want to bring people around to my way of thinking”.

    Yep, Sev. What a shifty, manipulative character that Einstein was! Not to speak of Planck, Bohr et al.

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