Darwinism Epigenetics Evolution Intelligent Design

“Beyond neo-Darwinism” revisited: Epigenetics vs. the selfish gene

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A reader asks about resources for non-Darwinian evolution theory and this might be a good time to recognize Peter Saunders and Mae-Wan Ho, and their lifetime study of epigenetics:

Abstract: Description: Ever since Darwin, there have been challenges to the claim that the natural selection of small random variations is a sufficient explanation of evolution. Even mainstream evolutionists are now beginning to accept that something more is required. The question is whether this will be merely a few add-ons that leave the paradigm unaltered, or whether the whole framework of explanation, including its application to other disciplines, will be changed. – PT Saunders, Theor Biol Forum, 109 (1-2), 123-130 2016 Jan 1

Back in 1979, there was Ho MW, Saunders PT., Beyond neo-Darwinism–an epigenetic approach to evolution. J Theor Biol. 1979 Jun 21;78(4):573-91 cited 391 times:

Abstract: We argue that the basic neo-Darwinian framework—the natural selection of random mutations—is insufficient to account for evolution. The role of natural selection is itself limited: it cannot adequately explain the diversity of populations or of species; nor can it account for the origin of new species or for major evolutionary change. The evidence suggests on the one hand that most genetic changes are irrelevant to evolution; and on the other, that a relative lack of natural selection may be the prerequisite for major evolutionary advance.

Contrary to the neo-Darwinian view, we point out that the variations of the phenotype, on which natural selection could act, do not arise at random; they are produced by interactions between the organism and the environment during development. We propose, therefore, that the intrinsic dynamical structure of the epigenetic system itself, in its interaction with the environment, is the source of non-random variations which direct evolutionary change, and that a proper study of evolution consists in the working out of the dynamics of the epigenetic system and its response to environmental stimuli as well as the mechanisms whereby novel developmental responses are canalized.

We postulate that “large” evolutionary changes could be the result of the canalization of novel developmental responses which arose from environmental challenges under conditions of relaxed natural selection, and moreover, that the canalization of novel developmental responses might involve cytoplasmic inheritance or maternal effects at least in the initial stages. (paywall)

Epigenetics has grown a lot since then. Every pop science mag ow seems to know about it and it is making its way into other media as well.

Given that one’s genome changes somewhat through life, how likely is it that a Dawkins’-style “selfish gene” rules over all, seeking replication? At this point, it is much easier to see why some people would think that than to see how it relates to life on Earth.

See also: Mathematician Peter Saunders on Darwinism and epigenetics

Another non-Darwinian biologist we need to know about: Mae-Wan Ho

Mae-Wan Ho (1941–2016), non-Darwinian biologist

and

Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!

2 Replies to ““Beyond neo-Darwinism” revisited: Epigenetics vs. the selfish gene

  1. 1
    aarceng says:

    Epigenetics allows adaptation without a change in the genome. As such it masks the genome from the effects of natural selection, at least partially. Hence it would seem that epigenetics does work to prevent change to the genome.

  2. 2
    LocalMinimum says:

    aarceng @ 1:

    It’s like finally learning that Rubik’s cubes can be rotated and all the different forms you see are actually the same thing.

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