Evolution

Is Darwin’s old enemy, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, being rehabilitated?

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Laszlo Bencze Darwin’s fundamentalists have told us, we don’t know how many times, that genes are inherited via survival of the fittest (natural selection acting on random mutation of the parent’s inherited genome). So Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) was dead wrong; genes can’t change in one’s lifetime and be inherited in that changed state. Now we read,

Gene mutations caused by a father’s lifestyle can be inherited by his children, even if those mutations occurred before conception. What’s more, these findings show that mutations in the germ-line are present in all cells of the children, including their own germ cells. This means that a father’s lifestyle has the potential to affect the DNA of multiple generations and not just his immediate offspring. These findings were published in the July 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal.

“We’ve known for a very long time that preventive care among expectant mothers is critical to the health and well-being of their children,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Now, we’re learning that fathers don’t get a free pass. How they take care of themselves — even before conception — affects the genetic makeup of their children, for better or worse.”

Some people have found themselves asking, “How is this to be distinguished from Lamarckism? Is the Lamarckian view (characteristics inherited during one’s lifetime are passed on to offspring, a Darwinism no-no) now being rehabilitated, as part of Darwinism’s decline?”

Meanwhile, photographer/philosopher Laszlo Bencze wrote to say,

Actually, though it is little acknowledged today, Darwin himself postulated such a Lamarckian scheme in Origin. He spoke of tiny little factors or agents which he called “gemmules” which supposedly existed in all cells of the body where they picked up certain signals about how hard an organ or tissue was being used and traveled to the germ cells with this information allowing the germ cells to include useful improvements in the next generation.

If this sounds highly speculative and in direct contradiction to Darwin’s reliance on natural selection of variations, well, it certainly is. Darwin liked to cover his bets. So it looks like Lamarckism never really went away and is now rising to prominence in a new and improved form.

Another thing that won’t really have gone away, if this flies, is specious Darwinian efforts to convince us that Darwin’s followers haven’t always dumped all over Lamarck whenever they got the chance.

Let the games begin.

Journal reference: O. Linschooten, N. Verhofstad, K. Gutzkow, A.-K. Olsen, C. Yauk, Y. Oligschlager, G. Brunborg, F. J. van Schooten, R. W. L. Godschalk. Paternal lifestyle as a potential source of germline mutations transmitted to offspring. The FASEB Journal, 2013; DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-227694

51 Replies to “Is Darwin’s old enemy, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, being rehabilitated?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Today on the Michael Medved Show’s Science & Culture Update, Stephen Meyer Will Discuss His New Bestseller, Darwin’s Doubt
    Evolution News & Views July 8, 2013
    That’s 1 pm Pacific Time, 4 pm Eastern. It’s this week’s Science & Culture Update. You can also listen online by going here.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....JuYCo.dpuf

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    There is nothing new here. Yes some things get inherited based on mutations which is normal NDE or because the environment of the parent which changes some of the epigenetic characteristics. So some things can be changed during a lifetime and then passed on to offspring. The Blacksmith’s strength or other physical characteristics developed during a life time are not passed on.

    So this is not truly Lamarckian. Unless someone knows something different.

  3. 3
    keiths says:

    Denyse,

    You have completely misunderstood the study you cite.

    What the study shows is that mutations caused by the father’s lifestyle can be passed down to his descendants.

    The mutations are in the genes, and they get passed on. It’s genetic, not epigenetic. Darwinian, not Lamarckian!

    A Lamarckian scenario would be something like what jerry describes in his blacksmith example.

  4. 4
    keiths says:

    Also, I don’t know where you got the idea that Lamarck was “Darwin’s old enemy.”

    Darwin praises Lamarck as “the first man whose conclusions on the subject excited much attention.… In these works he up holds the doctrine that all species, including man, are descended from other species.”

    He also uses Lamarckian ideas in some of his work.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Take it up with Bencze. Darwin’s followers routinely contrast natural selection with inheritance of acquired characteristics, irrespective of what Darwin thought. Don’t be too sure aout the blacksmith’s arm either. 😉 – O’Leary

  6. 6
    wd400 says:

    “How is this to be distinguished from Lamarckism? “

    Not people who know what Lamarckism means, however. Don’t you think UD news should have the first idea about the topics on which it opines?

  7. 7
    keiths says:

    Take it up with Bencze. – O’Leary

    You take no responsibility for the title and content of your own post?

  8. 8
    keiths says:

    Ah, I see you edited your comment to add this:

    Darwin’s followers routinely contrast natural selection with inheritance of acquired characteristics…

    Of course they do. Those are separate things.

    The study you cite isn’t talking about the Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics.

    Jerry’s blacksmith example would be an instance of Lamarckian inheritance: Blacksmith works, blacksmith gets big arms, blacksmith passes big arms on to his children.

    The study you cite says something completely different: Father smokes, smoking causes mutations in father’s genes, father passes mutations on to children.

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    Meyer in his new book briefly reviews modern Lamarckian theories. He points to Eva Jablonka and Massimo Pigliucci as advocates of epigenitic changes which affect inheritance of biological information. These are mostly non mutational changes.

    Meyer dismisses epigenetic inheritance as anything meaningful for various reasons he develops in the book. But so little is known about epigenetics that it is too early to tell where is will lead. But epigenetic inheritance is not what Lamarck meant by the use it or loose it concept.

  10. 10
    Robert Byers says:

    I know Darwin used Lamarck stuff in explaining how he thought women could breed more intelligent girls. By careful attention to their own intelligence and then waiting a few years she could make the female babies smarter.
    This was needed because Darwin insisted women were intellectually inferior to men by innate genetics as such.
    I’m not saying it and its not true.
    Darwin said it in his descent of man book.
    Keep it under your hat.

  11. 11
    lifepsy says:

    Jerry:

    There is nothing new here. Yes some things get inherited based on mutations which is normal NDE or because the environment of the parent which changes some of the epigenetic characteristics. So some things can be changed during a lifetime and then passed on to offspring.

    Heritable epigenetics, while documented in rare and controversial cases for many years now, is now being found to be a widespread and common process. Along with phenotypic plasticity in general, many developmental changes in a species population are being discovered to act non-radomly on individuals due to environment, and actually have nothing to do with fixation of traits due to NDE selection of random fitness-increasing mutations.

    The standard mantra of RM+NS is quickly becoming antiquated and useless. However it still holds great philosophical value for the evolutionist, as they fully rely on the model of a filter of countless random changes to explain the origin of highly complex function. The more RM+NS becomes diminished as a mechanism in the public eye, the more glaringly obvious that evolution has no mechanism at all.

    In the scientific community there is even increasing questioning on whether or not mutations are random, or have much less of a random component than once assumed by NDE.

    The Blacksmith’s strength or other physical characteristics developed during a life time are not passed on.

    While it may not manifest into identical transgenerational strength, there is probably a great deal of epigenetic expression being activated and inherited due to the blacksmith’s lifestyle and environment.

    While the blacksmith activated this function later in life while starting his career(environment stress), his children would experience whatever transgenerational epigenetic expression from infancy which may have very unexpected results.

  12. 12
    Andre says:

    Denyse

    In Support of your article.

    http://www.technologyreview.co.....evolution/

    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....09230.html

    http://www.philly.com/philly/b.....60514.html

    Don’t worry about the naysayers, If its not Darwin it has to be false, religion is a terrible thing!

  13. 13
    keiths says:

    Andre,

    Your links are all to examples of epigenetics.

    The “naysayers” aren’t arguing against epigenetics. We’re arguing that Denyse doesn’t understand Lamarckism, because she cites this study as an example of it.

    As I explained above:

    The study you cite isn’t talking about the Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics.

    Jerry’s blacksmith example would be an instance of Lamarckian inheritance: Blacksmith works, blacksmith gets big arms, blacksmith passes big arms on to his children.

    The study you cite says something completely different: Father smokes, smoking causes mutations in father’s genes, father passes mutations on to children.

  14. 14

    News:

    Is the Lamarckian view (characteristics inherited during one’s lifetime are passed on to offspring, a Darwinism no-no) now being rehabilitated, as part of Darwinism’s decline?

    Yes, but not “as part of Darwinism’s decline”. As part of neo-Darwinism’s decline, certainly.

    We now know that heritability is far more than DNA sequence inheritance.

  15. 15
    Andre says:

    KeithS

    The you don’t understand tactic is stale, you just don’t understand ID is what I might as well say when we disagree, its lame.

  16. 16
    Andre says:

    KeithS

    So the Blacksmith’s bigger arms are not a mutation? If not what is it?

    http://www.nature.com/scitable.....isease-895

    Epigenetics is not just about positive acquired traits you know, bad ones are too, or will you just tell me I don’t understand it?

  17. 17
    keiths says:

    Andre,

    I encourage you to think about what you just wrote.

    Really think about it.

  18. 18
    keiths says:

    I was referring to this comment (#15).

  19. 19
    Andre says:

    KeithS

    Will this article help you?

    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org.....21_05.html

    Exactly what Denyse was saying! But disagree if you must, who would want to agree with a loony that thinks ID is possible.

  20. 20
    keiths says:

    Andre,

    So the Blacksmith’s bigger arms are not a mutation? If not what is it?

    No, it’s not a mutation. Here you go: Muscle hypertrophy

  21. 21
    Andre says:

    KeithS

    Whenver there is a disagreement with a Darwinist the following happens…

    1.) The Darwinist tells you that you don’t understand it.
    2.) When you finally show that you do, they will find fault with the spelling or the phrases you use…

    Happens like this every time. You do the same, As a Darwinist you should not trust your logic and reason, being from a monkey how can you?

  22. 22
    keiths says:

    Andre,

    I think your comment was a little more autobiographical than you intended.

    Have a good day.

  23. 23
    Andre says:

    KeithS

    Information flow is two way (OK not for Darwinist), you should think about that for a while before you try and defend that which is false.

  24. 24
    Andre says:

    And then when all else fails they’ll run away and claim themselves the holders of some higher ground

    Richard Dawkins Vs William Lane Craig comes to mind.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1ldYmg0lpE

    Discovery institute Vs Jerry Coyne

    http://whyevolutionistrue.word.....edin-case/

  25. 25
    wd400 says:

    Andre,

    What should evolutionary biologists and supporters of that science do when they see people attacking their own misunderstandings of the field (rather the critiquing the actual theory)?

    Here, O’Leary launched into a post of Lamarkism after reading that in no way relates to acquired traits. That is, the whole basis of this thread is a misunderstanding.

    If you look around UD lately you can see KF being indignant that people won’t accept his/her misunderstanding of what log-tranforms can do and scordova claiming rapid burial of some animals does away with geology (or something, it’s very hard to fine a point in that thread).

    So, when all people have are misunderstandings of science, what are we supposed to say?

  26. 26
    Andre says:

    WD400

    Why do you support the theory of evolution? Let us start with that. Be hoenst to yourself on the question.

    What is it about the theory of evolution that convinces you that its true?

    Denyse is spot on with her article, it’s clear that the average Darwinist does not know anything about Lamarkism, and you know why? Because it use to be the standard Darwinist’s joke for 150 years….

    not anymore 🙂

    http://www.the-scientist.com/?.....ssing-Lnc/

    time to take notice that Lamarck not Darwin was right….

  27. 27
    Andre says:

    This is the only true statement in evolution that is observable and testable.

    “Evolution is a process that results in changes in the genetic material of a population over time.”

    Every single thing after this is metaphysical, speculation and wishful thinking.

  28. 28
    wd400 says:

    What is Lamarkian about the result that set of this thread, Andre?

  29. 29
    Andre says:

    WD400

    read the report again….

  30. 30
    Andre says:

    And when you’re done reading it please check Dennis Noble’s lecture;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJhotrNeYGE

    This may help you understand what ID people like me take for granted.

    Genes do not make us. they are just a part of us. Its not the original bottom up for genes like you and Dawkins believe, instead its a biological networking scenario with two way information flow. The essence of Lamarck’s theory.

  31. 31
    jerry says:

    We know incredibly little about epigenetics. From Meyer’s book, it is anything that affects gene expression and cell division that is not in the genome itself but in the egg. It can be attached to the genome, it can be in the egg cell cytoplasma (if that is correct term for non nucleus, non membrane material), in the membrane of the egg and maybe some other places. There are lots of it especially in the membrane of the egg,

    It is a catchall term but what is becoming obvious it is behind the formation of the organism and it directs an incredibly complex process.

    I am involved in physical conditioning and one of the hot research areas is gene expression as the result of exercise. I do not think it is epigenetic but certain processes are set loose when one exercises that promote cell and enzyme development. There is no indication that these changes are organism wide, hence the blacksmith’s strength or a runner’s aerobic capacity would not be passed on to the germ cells. If they are that would be extremely interesting.

    Again Meyer reviews a lot of epigenetic research but it is hardly scratching the surface. And I doubt any of it leads to typical Lamarackian evolution which is very different. It is saying that there is biological changes that are not mutations that are passed on but they are very minor. Again too early to know anything definitive.

  32. 32

    Andre, as you are a Denis Noble fan (as am I), you might like to take note of Denis Noble’s view of Darwin (favorable), also Darwin’s of Lamarck (favorable), also of the fact that epigenetic effects on the germline rarely consist of passing of acquired characteristics that helped the parent survive.

    It is sometimes called “neo-Lamarckism”, not “Lamarckism” for that reason.

    And the reason Noble calls for a revision of evolutionary thinking is not that he rejects Darwin (he doesn’t) but the neo-Darwinist emphasis on the centrality of the gene in evolutionary hypotheses.

    Darwin simply didn’t know where hereditary variance came from, he just knew it happened. He took seriously the possibility that Lamarck’s theory was correct. Lamarck’s theory was not correct, but he had a point.

  33. 33

    Geez, Science Daily is a terrible rag.

    What’s this supposed to mean?

    Gene mutations caused by a father’s lifestyle can be inherited by his children, even if those mutations occurred before conception.

    (my emphasis)

    How else could a gene mutation caused by a father’s lifestyle be inherited by his children?

    And no, news, genes are not:

    inherited via survival of the fittest (natural selection acting on random mutation of the parent’s inherited genome)

    genes are inherited in the normal way, by reproduction.

    And yes, genes can be altered during our lifetimes (which is why we get cancer) and yes, that includes germline cells (which is why you get increased birth defects following radiation disasters).

    None of this is any news to “Darwinists” although it would have been news to Darwin, as he didn’t know about genetics.

    And a germline mutation acquired during a parent’s lifetime (when else?) that is passed on to a child is not an “acquired characteristic”. It is simply a mutation, without phenotypic effects on the parent.

    What I think you are trying to say is that we now know, as Denis Noble has been drawing attention to, that the gene – the DNA sequence – is not the only unit of heritability.

    But this does not do anything to affect the theory of evolution as articulated by Darwin – that if descent with modification and natural selection. It merely sheds light on the mechanisms of modification.

  34. 34
    Andre says:

    I don’t oppose Darwinism, I don’t think ID people oppose the quote below, it and neither does any creationists

    “Evolution is a process that results in changes in the genetic material of a population over time.”

    This is tested and observed, who argues that this part of Darwinism is not true? Anything else however added or speculated is simply tested or observed science.

  35. 35
    Andre says:

    Is NOT tested or observed science, I meant to say, apologies.

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    Andre, what is termed the ‘blind watchmaker thesis’ of Darwinism is what is being questioned. i.e. Ask for evidence of evolution and you will get anything but an example of purely material processes generating functional complexity.

  37. 37
    jerry says:

    I just downloaded Nessa Carey’s book “The Epigenetics Revolution” and it has a chapter on Lamarckian ideas titled “The Sins of the Fathers.”

    I have not read the chapter yet but saw later in the book that she essentially dismisses Lamarckian evolution as viable in any meaningful way. There is definitely something there but appears to be minor and peripheral.

    Meyer makes a rather strong case that if evolution of anything major happened it would have to happen in the epigenetics somewhere and not in the genome. Only epigenetics information contains the information for major body formation and hence any changes that would have happened. This is where the blueprint is which contains the construction information and the genome is just the toolkit that the blueprint uses. The genome differs from one individual organism to another and provides the variation for individual members of a species. So the thinking on evolution is taking a very different road.

    Incredible Design!!!!! So maybe we should change ID to mean Incredible Design. We will see how everybody dances to the new information

  38. 38

    Andre, natural selection of beneficial variants has been observed, in lab, in field, and in silico.

  39. 39
    Joe says:

    LoL! Ernst Mayr’s view of natural selection stands in contrast to Lizzie’s. Mayr says that natural selection is eliminative and there isn’t any selecting. As Mayr said:

    The process of selection would have a concrete objective, the determination of the “best” or “fittest” phenotype. Only relatively few individuals in a given generation would qualify and survive the selection procedure. That smal sample would be able to preserve only a small amount of the whole variance of the parental population. Such survival selection would be highly restrained.

    By contrast, a mere elimination of the less fit might permit the survival of a rather large number of individuals because they have no obvious deficienies in fitness. Such an enlarged sample would provide, for instance, the needed material for the exercise of sexual selection. This also explains why survival is so uneven from season to season. The percetage of the less fit in a population would depend on the severity of each year’s envirnmental conditions. page 118 “What Evolution Is”

  40. 40
    Joe says:

    And BTW, Darwin was NOT anti-Lamark. At least that is the impression one gets from reading “On the Origins of Species…”

  41. 41
    jerry says:

    Just read the Carey Chapter on Lamarckian processes. It definitely indicates that some acquired characteristics are passed on but not in the genome but in the methylation patterns on the genome. How wide spread is unknown. It may have no impact on the over all evolution question but could have a huge impact on personal habits and public health.

    Most of the examples reflected diet patterns of the parents that were then transmitted to the offspring. Normal male mice were fattened and bred with regularly fed females. The over fed male mice got obese and diabetes and this susceptibility to diabetes was transmitted to the offspring via epigentics.

    Again this is very interesting but who knows where the results will lead. It may mean that fat parents will have fat children that is epigenetically determined and not genetic or environmental. In other words the kids will have bad things happen to them that are caused by bad parental habits. The diet police will be all over this and they will probably try to control everyone’s food consumption.

  42. 42
    lifepsy says:

    Liddle,

    None of this is any news to “Darwinists” although it would have been news to Darwin, as he didn’t know about genetics.

    You say this type of “we knew this all along” thing a lot. The predominance of plasticity and heritable epigenetics is actually news to many evolutionists in my experience. You have Evos all over the net claiming random beneficial variations and natural selection fixated such-and-such trait in a population when they are completely wrong in many cases. I don’t think you realize how ingrained RM+NS is in evo culture.

    I could go onto “Ask A Biologist”.com and ask them How do cavefish lose their eyes? Why do some populations of the same species of lizards have exceptionally larger features or altered stomach anatomy? Typically I will get the same refrain, that a random mutation was selected for and fixated in that population because it increased fitness in a specific environment.

    I would be surprised to get a response like “Well the environment stimuli altered epigenetic expression of the individuals’ genome” You just never hear that from Evos. It would be a dishonor to not mete out praise of the idol of Natural Selection every chance one gets.

    I’m really not buying your “evolutionists know this” thing. I’m sure some do, but the majority are fully committed to this antiquated RM+NS mechanism, and they have certainly made sure the public believes that mechanism is the indisputable primary driver of all biodiversity, which is of course, laughable, as evidence or even plausibility for this is yet to be produced.

    The picture Biology is painting now is that species are equipped with non-random, limited variation systems with respect to fluctuating environments… but I digress.

  43. 43
    jerry says:

    natural selection of beneficial variants has been observed

    The picture Biology is painting now is that species are equipped with non-random, limited variation systems with respect to fluctuating environments

    Example of Incredible Design?

  44. 44
    Andre says:

    Elizabeth

    Woolier sheep? Faster dogs? Who is denying that?

  45. 45
    jerry says:

    Woolier sheep? Faster dogs? Who is denying that?

    Obvious but there is always a limit to this. One reason is that if the benefits kept increasing, it would destroy the ecology. An ecology is dependent on limited variation capability. Or else the incredibly fast dog might destroy it. Don’t know what harm the woolier sheep would do. Ecologies are incredibly intricate systems that depend on its elements not getting too far advanced for the other elements of the ecology. So for every species there are built in limits.

    Bad Design or Incredible Design? Let’s change ID to mean Incredible Design.

    One exception, intelligence is now possibly re-designing genomes to get better and who knows where that could lead in terms of the ecologies.

  46. 46
    Starbuck says:

    Pigliucci scoffed at Meyer’s insinuation https://twitter.com/mpigliucci/status/348302626842087425

  47. 47
    Andre says:

    Jerry

    Limts, exactly why random in the neo-darwinian sense is hocus pocus.

    Ecology is the evidence for design

  48. 48

    Joe:

    And BTW, Darwin was NOT anti-Lamark. At least that is the impression one gets from reading “On the Origins of Species…”

    Absolutely right, Joe! Nice to be able to agree with you!

  49. 49
    jerry says:

    Pigliucci scoffed at Meyer’s insinuation

    Here is what Meyer said

    Today, prominent defenders of neo_lamarckism include Eva Jablonka, of Tel Aviv University, and Massimo Pigliucci, of the City University of New York.

    It is the only time he mentions Pigliucci except in the references. Here is a long article by Pigliucci.

    http://rationallyspeaking.blog.....ocess.html

    Read the last paragraph. Meyer may be wrong about Pigliucci because it seems that Pigliucci thinks Lamarck’s ideas may only applicable to human culture and not biology. But Carey has listed a few examples of Lamarckian evolution in her book and so has Jablonka in hers.

    Pigliucci edited a book on evolution:Evolution-Extended-Synthesis

    http://www.amazon.com/Evolutio.....0262513676

    It is available for the Kindle but cost $21.

  50. 50
    lifepsy says:

    Here is a paper from Eva Jablonka from 2008

    Soft inheritance: Challenging the Modern Synthesis

    This paper presents some of the recent challenges to the Modern Synthesis of evolutionary theory, which has dominated evolutionary thinking for the last sixty years. The focus of the paper is the challenge of soft inheritance – the idea that variations that arise during development can be inherited. There is ample evidence showing that phenotypic variations that are independent of variations in DNA sequence, and targeted DNA changes that are guided by epigenetic control systems, are important sources of hereditary variation, and hence can contribute to evolutionary changes. Furthermore, under certain conditions, the mechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome. These discoveries are clearly incompatible with the tenets of the Modern Synthesis, which denied any significant role for Lamarckian and saltational processes. In view of the data that support soft inheritance, as well as other challenges to the Modern Synthesis, it is concluded that that synthesis no longer offers a satisfactory theoretical framework for evolutionary biology.

    http://www.somosbacteriasyvirus.com/soft1.pdf

  51. 51
    jerry says:

    Pigliucci admits that they do not know how evolution happened:

    http://philpapers.org/archive/PIGAES

    Oh, he subscribes to Darwin for the small stuff but so does ID. But for the big stuff, it is a mystery.

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