Darwinism Evolution

Further indications that neo-Darwinism is dead

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University of Pittsburgh Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey H. Schwartz has consistently swum against the neo-Darwinian mainstream, and this new 30Jan2006 paper in the New Anatomist with University of Salerno Professor of Biochemistry Bruno Maresca is no exception. The starting point of their argument is clear: Neo-Darwinism has failed and does not fit the evidence. For instance, in the section titled “Molecular and Morphological Contradiction” (pp. 39-40), Maresca and Schwartz write:

“Current evolutionary theory assumes various molecular phenomena. For instance, under a constant mutation rate, new phenotypes should emerge gradually, because, as Morgan ([1916]) argued, the chance of a mutation affecting a trait would be increased by an earlier mutation affecting the same trait. Although not demonstrating this experimentally, Morgan ([1916]) believed that evolution proceeds via the accumulation of small mutations that gradually push phenotypic change in a particular direction. But the premise that one mutation can increase the likelihood of another following it along similar lines is contradicted by the random nature and statistically insignificant probability of mutation. Morgan’s experiments also did not produce new phenotypes; they only manipulated the frequency of extant Drosophila variants. Thus, the early genetic rationale for gradual evolutionary change, which ultimately informed the evolutionary synthesis, was not grounded in fact (Schwartz,[1999a]). In addition, many of Morgan’s (Morgan et al.,[1926]) observations record the loss, not acquisition, of phenotypic properties (e.g., the eyeless mutant in Drosophila). Other observations that may appear profound do not represent the introduction of new genetic material, e.g., the bithorax mutant. Mutation in the Ubx gene may cause duplication of a segment in the Drosophila embryo (Duncan,[1996]), but this does not demonstrate how the original single pair of wings and associated structures emerged.”

They continue:

“Since a commonly assumed mechanism underlying morphological change is point mutation (a simple event statistically), the time required to produce change should be predictable because mutational events occur with a known and constant (although low) frequency. Thus, if new genetic material arising via regularly occurring but rare mutation events accumulates, species transformation should also occur at a constant and predictable rate. Yet the metazoan fossil record shows the opposite: the sudden appearance of fully developed, major morphological novelties (i.e., bony skeletons, jaws and teeth, limbs with zeugopods) in many different kinds of animals, as well as of different kinds of animals (e.g., insects)…”

If neo-Darwinism doesn’t work, what does?

28 Replies to “Further indications that neo-Darwinism is dead

  1. 1
    anteater says:

    Is this paper online?

  2. 2
    Srdjan says:

    anteater, it is not online yet. But you may want to check this one. Very interesting.

    http://www.pitt.edu/~jhs/artic.....anzees.pdf

  3. 3
    Srdjan says:

    anteater, also check this as it is very related to quoted article.

    http://www.pitt.edu/~jhs/artic.....matics.pdf

  4. 4
    Bombadill says:

    May I just emphasize – Professor of Anthropology

    …for the PT folks who consistently tell us that it’s only mathematicians, computer scientists, lawyers, etc… who doubt Darwinian mechanisms.

  5. 5
    saxe17 says:

    Game Over!

  6. 6
    aldo30127 says:

    Interesting. One would think that this article is in favor of Intelligent Design and against “Neo-Darwinism”, which would be true if “New-Darwinism” was defined solely as point mutations at regular intervals with no other environmental factors. Is this was Maresca and Schwartz are saying? Well, let’s look not at what Dr. Dembski quoted from the article but the abstract…

    A major theme in Darwinian evolutionary theory is that novelty arises through a process in which organisms and their features are gradually transformed. Morgan provided Darwinism and the evolutionary synthesis with the idea that minor mutations produce the minuscule morphological variations on which natural selection then acts, and that, although mutation is random, once a process of gradual genetic modification begins, it becomes directional and leads to morphological, and consequently organismal, transformation. In contrast, studies on the role of cell membrane physical states in regulating the expression of stress proteins in response to environmental shifts indicate the existence of a downstream mechanism that prevents or corrects genetic change (i.e., maintains DNA homeostasis). However, episodic spikes in various kinds of environmental stress that exceed an organism’s cells’ thresholds for expression of proper amounts of stress proteins responsible for protein folding (including stochastically occurring DNA repair) may increase mutation rate and genetic change, which in turn will alter the pattern of gene expression during development. If severe stress disrupts DNA homeostasis during meiosis (gametogenesis), this could allow for the appearance of significant mutational events that would otherwise be corrected or suppressed. In evolutionary terms, extreme spikes in environmental stress make possible the emergence of new genetic and consequent developmental and epigenetic networks, and thus also the emergence of potentially new morphological traits, without invoking geographic or other isolating mechanisms. Anat Rec (Part B: New Anat) 289B:38-46, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

    Hmmmm….Doesn’t look like the authors “doubt Darwinian mechanisms” (in the words of Bombadill) but are proposing a contributing mechanism consistent with current evolutionary theory. Granted, it’s not natural selection, per se, but it’s still natural and not designed.

    The article is online here.
    http://www3.interscience.wiley...../HTMLSTART

  7. 7
    John Davison says:

    Allelic mutations and their rates never had anything to do with evolution although they were important in ensuring extinction. That is about all they ever did. Evolution WAS entirely emergent and independent of the environment in which it took place. Some folks never learn. I am not one of them. Thanks for listening.

  8. 8
    Patrick says:

    “alter the pattern of gene expression during development”

    Sounds like Evo-Devo to me.

  9. 9
    DaveScot says:

    aldo

    Sound to me like yet another ad hoc modification of the modern synthesis to accomodate the stunning failure of its star mechanism RM+NS. RM+NS is dead and with it the modern synthesis. Its followers are worshipping a corpse in denial of the fact that it is no longer breathing. It’s starting to stink the place up so they better get on with the burial. Perhaps a postmodern synthesis will come along that explain design without intelligent agency. I hate to burst your bubble but a mechanism which merely increases the rate of random mutation above the background rate in response to evironmental stress doesn’t qualify. It’s been known for a long time that toxins cause vastly increased mutation rate. There’s absolutely no evidence that faster random mutations will turn a random process into a creative process. Sorry.

  10. 10
    aldo30127 says:

    Dave,
    Worshipping a corpse? Please. The “star mechanism” of random mutation + natural selection is a canard dreamt up by opponents of evolution. Evolutionary theory is common descent with modification. Period. The modern synthesis (neo-Darwinism) is still being tweaked to better explain, mechanistically, the key evolutionary observation of descent with modification. That Dembski can imply that this article is a nail in the coffin for “neo-Darwinism” is illustrative of an either/or mentality that does little to advance science. If our current understanding of “natural selection” doesn’t fit the data, that doesn’t mean that the whole thing needs to be scrapped; the parts that still work can stay. Whether or not you define “natural selection” as the fact that the fitter organisms survive, or that the least fit die, doesn’t matter. It’s still neo-Darwinism; it’s still a synthesis of a modern understanding of genetics and mutation rates with phenotypic and morphological changes over time. Our knowledge of genetics and mutation did not end in 80s.

  11. 11
    ftrp11 says:

    Quick note on changes in a theory. There has been quite a bit said about how modifications to a theory suggest its imminent downfall. This may is sometimes true but generally it is not. A theory provides a theoretical framework through which to view a certain set of data. A theory is never the whole truth but merely our best approximation of it given our current knowledge. When you have a dominant theory in a field you can count on it being continuously modified. That is a given for any fied of science. Static is one word that is extremely ill suited to characterize science as it is a very dynamic endeavour. A dominant framework will cease to be so only when a superior tehory comes along. Superior in this case would mean, among other things, having better predictive power and providing a more coherent narrative.

    I make a design inference myself so I am not hostile to ID. That said I think ID has to ultimately contribute more then a powerful metaphysical argument, albeit based on scientific reasoning, to overturn Darwin’s ideas and science’s generally naturalistic worldview.

  12. 12
    ftrp11 says:

    typo: scratch ‘may’ in the third sentence

  13. 13
    DaveScot says:

    aldo

    “Evolutionary theory is common descent with modification. Period.”

    Then ID has no bone to pick with it. Period.

    Until one stipulates that evolution is an unguided, unplanned process it is in complete harmony with Intelligent Design.

    Can we agree on this point?

  14. 14
    scordova says:

    This paper is consistent with a rather prophetic claim by Lynn Margulis about Neo-Darwinism:

    “It will look ridiculous in retrospect, because it is ridiculous.”

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    ftrp – notes on changes in theories

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/

    The Marxist account of history too, Popper held, is not scientific, although it differs in certain crucial respects from psychoanalysis. For Marxism, Popper believed, had been initially scientific, in that Marx had postulated a theory which was genuinely predictive. However, when these predictions were not in fact borne out, the theory was saved from falsification by the addition of ad hoc hypotheses which made it compatible with the facts. By this means, Popper asserted, a theory which was initially genuinely scientific degenerated into pseudo-scientific dogma.

    These factors combined to make Popper take falsifiability as his criterion for demarcating science from non-science: if a theory is incompatible with possible empirical observations it is scientific; conversely, a theory which is compatible with all such observations, either because, as in the case of Marxism, it has been modified solely to accommodate such observations, or because, as in the case of psychoanalytic theories, it is consistent with all possible observations, is unscientific. For Popper, however, to assert that a theory is unscientific, is not necessarily to hold that it is unenlightening, still less that it is meaningless, for it sometimes happens that a theory which is unscientific (because it is unfalsifiable) at a given time may become falsifiable, and thus scientific, with the development of technology, or with the further articulation and refinement of the theory. Further, even purely mythogenic explanations have performed a valuable function in the past in expediting our understanding of the nature of reality.

    Search and replace Marx with Darwin and it remains essentially the same

    The Darwinist account of history too, Popper held, is not scientific, although it differs in certain crucial respects from psychoanalysis. For Darwinism, Popper believed, had been initially scientific, in that Darwin had postulated a theory which was genuinely predictive. However, when these predictions were not in fact borne out, the theory was saved from falsification by the addition of ad hoc hypotheses which made it compatible with the facts. By this means, Popper asserted, a theory which was initially genuinely scientific degenerated into pseudo-scientific dogma.

    These factors combined to make Popper take falsifiability as his criterion for demarcating science from non-science: if a theory is incompatible with possible empirical observations it is scientific; conversely, a theory which is compatible with all such observations, either because, as in the case of Darwinism, it has been modified solely to accommodate such observations, or because, as in the case of psychoanalytic theories, it is consistent with all possible observations, is unscientific. For Popper, however, to assert that a theory is unscientific, is not necessarily to hold that it is unenlightening, still less that it is meaningless, for it sometimes happens that a theory which is unscientific (because it is unfalsifiable) at a given time may become falsifiable, and thus scientific, with the development of technology, or with the further articulation and refinement of the theory. Further, even purely mythogenic explanations have performed a valuable function in the past in expediting our understanding of the nature of reality.

    Sorry buddy, but Darwinism has become pseudo-scientific dogma. Karl Popper spells it out plainly for us. Or as Professor Emeritus of Biology John Davison would put it “Darwian evolution is the biggest hoax in the history of biology”.

  16. 16
    ftrp11 says:

    I am not sure how many times I have heard critiques of Popper and the notion of falsification being a criterion of science here (in defense of ID) but enough that I am sure you are aware of them. At any rate bold statements like “Darwinian evolution is the biggest hoax in the history of biology” are hard to back up when only a statistically insignificant people in relevant fields hold such a view. That doesn’t mean that the statement is wrong, just that it is hard to say with such certainty.

    I have read Dembski, Behe, and Gould as well and I am not sure how anyone can be justifiably dogmatic at either end of this question. The dogmatists at both ends give disproportionate weight to some evidence and unduly discount other peices of evidence.

  17. 17
    DaveScot says:

    ftrp

    The hoax hyperbole was meant to be rhetorical.

    Try to focus on what Popper said about the addition to ad hoc hypotheses to theories that began their life as authentically scientific.

    If you dare. If you don’t dare then I’m going to invite you to leave the premises.

  18. 18
    Mats says:

    These are the kind of writtings that Eugenie Scott, Barbara Forest Cornelia Dean assume don’t exist.

  19. 19
    jimbo says:

    I wonder – has anyone here read any of Rupert Sheldrake’s work on what he calls “morphic fields”? I have only recently come across it, and it seems to be an intriguing critique (from a different direction from ID) of neodarwinism. Basically, he sees genes as being overrated – that while genes provide the mechanism for contruction of proteins, they actually have nothing to do with the forms of organisms, which are organized by fields similar to magnetic and gravitational fields…

  20. 20
    watchmaker says:

    DaveScot said:
    “Until one stipulates that evolution is an unguided, unplanned process it is in complete harmony with Intelligent Design. Can we agree on this point?”

    Dave,

    What about someone like Paul Nelson who does not accept common descent? His views do not harmonize with any form of evolution other than limited microevolution. Do you consider them to be in harmony with ID?

  21. 21
    niwrad says:

    I agree with Paul Nelson about that. And I think the rebuttal of common descent is in harmony with ID.

  22. 22
    DaveScot says:

    Watchmaker

    Design detection neither confirms nor denies common descent. It simply doesn’t speak to that question. I’m sure Paul Nelson would agree.

    Eugenie Scott and Ken Miller say Darwinian evolution is perfectly compatible with the Christian faith. Does that make Darwinian evolution a theological position? Of course not.

    Anything else I can clear up for you?

  23. 23
    John Davison says:

    Darwinism died a mere 12 years after its inception when St George Jackson Mivart posed the simple question ” How can natural selection be involved in a structure that has not yet appeared?
    Mivart, 1871, The Genesis of Species.

    “Science commits suicide when she adopts a creed.”
    Thomas Henry Huxley

    That is the only frontispiece to Leo Bergs’ Nomogenesis, in my opinion the most important single volume ever written on the the subject of evolution.

    The inevitable and imminent collapse of the Darwinian myth is the most protracted yet certain form of intellectual suicide in the history of mankind.

    I love it so!

  24. 24
    Patrick says:

    “What about someone like Paul Nelson who does not accept common descent? His views do not harmonize with any form of evolution other than limited microevolution. Do you consider them to be in harmony with ID?”

    ID is such a big tent that it’s “compatible” with both views.

  25. 25
    John Davison says:

    There never was such a thing as Darwinian evolution. It was a myth at its inception and has remained such throughout the 147 years of its existence. The day is not far off when we will be talking about Bergian evolution. I predicted it some time ago. Remember who told you, or don’t. I couldn’t care less.

    “Evolution is in a great measure an unfolding of pre-existing rudiments.”
    Nomogenesis or Evolution Determined by Law, page 406

    How do you like them raw Rocky Mountain oysters Rockefeller? Slippery aren’t they?

  26. 26
    John Davison says:

    ftrp11

    Everything I say I say with certainty or I would not have said it. That includes all my published papers and everything I say on the emphemeral venue of cyberspace as well. Got that? Write that down. I am not a liberal minded, left leanin, relativistic mystic and I devoutly believe in ultimately attainable absolute truth. That is what science is all about. I guess that makes me a bigot. Who cares? I don’t.

    “Acertainable truth is partial, piecemeal, uncertain and difficult.”
    Bertrand Russell

    but acertainable nevertheless.

  27. 27
    John Davison says:

    DaveScot in post 15.

    That is not only the way I would put it, it is the way I have put it many times. It is like talking to the wall.

  28. 28

    […] H. Schwartz? Name rings a bell: He was speaking honestly  as far back as 2006, and has apparently survived. For […]

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