Darwinism Evolution News

New call for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

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To replace the Modern Synthesis:

The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is the name given to the school of thought which is now broadly accepted by evolutionary scientists around the world. Formal amalgamation of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Gregor Mendel’s genetics and August Weismann’s germ plasm theory was key to the Modern Synthesis, but other advances in population genetics and palaeontology were also important.

Further to: Larry Moran misses the point about Gunther Witzany (The perspective of the critics of the modern synthesis—so far from being shunned—is now one that attracts an “outer circle.” Hardly the sign of a failing cause):

There’s a new paper, “The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B that, while carefully phrased, calls for such a replacement. (PDF)

Here’s the abstract:

Scientific activities take place within the structured sets of ideas and assumptions that define a field and its practices. The conceptual framework of evolutionary biology emerged with the Modern Synthesis in the early twentieth century and has since expanded into a highly successful research program to explore the processes of diversification and adaptation. Nonetheless, the ability of that framework satisfactorily to accommodate the rapid advances in developmental biology, genomics and ecology has been questioned. We review some of these arguments, focusing on literatures (evo-devo, developmental plasticity, inclusive inheritance and niche construction) whose implications for evolution can be interpreted in two ways-one that preserves the internal structure of contemporary evolutionary theory and one that points towards an alternative conceptual framework. The latter, which we label the ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ (EES), retains the fundaments of evolutionary theory, but differs in its emphasis on the role of constructive processes in development and evolution, and reciprocal portrayals of causation. In the EES, developmental processes, operating through developmental bias, inclusive inheritance and niche construction, share responsibility for the direction and rate of evolution, the origin of character variation and organism-environment complementarity. We spell out the structure, core assumptions and novel predictions of the EES, and show how it can be deployed to stimulate and advance research in those fields that study or use evolutionary biology. Open access – Kevin N. Laland, Tobias Uller, Marcus W. Feldman, Kim Sterelny, Gerd B. Müller, Armin Moczek, Eva Jablonka, John Odling-Smee Published 5 August 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1019

The main problem the extended evolutionary synthesis creates for Darwinism is that evolution happens in many different ways, not just their way. Then Darwinism (natural selection acting on random mutation) is either a tautology (the survivors survive)— or a claim that the tautology is a mechanism for creating vast amounts of new information. The metaphysical value of Darwinism to new atheism is obvious but the mechanism has never been demonstrated to produce more than trivial changes. Stay tuned.

See also: Experts: “Epigenetics can drive genetics” (Environment “appears to be one of the main drivers of intergenerational changes, not simply a passive component.”)

and Talk to the fossils: Let’s see what they say back

Note: News posting a bit light till later today.

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12 Replies to “New call for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The latter, which we label the ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ (EES), retains the fundaments of evolutionary theory …

    That’s the beauty of it. You can get rid of RM & NS and still ‘retain the fundaments’.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    In spite of the way it is portrayed here or by critics from the academic sidelines, the theory of evolution is regarded by those who work in the field as a work-in-progress. not some fossilized dogma of Darwinism. While Darwin’s seminal work was a huge achievement for it’s day, natural selection is no longer regarded as the only – or even the primary – engine of evolution. Criticizing biology for the shortcomings of “Darwinism” is as much an attack on a strawman as would be hammering physicists for clinging to “Newtonism”.

  3. 3
    Virgil Cain says:

    Seversky:

    In spite of the way it is portrayed here or by critics from the academic sidelines, the theory of evolution is regarded by those who work in the field as a work-in-progress. not some fossilized dogma of Darwinism.

    No one can seem to find this alleged “theory of evolution”.

    While Darwin’s seminal work was a huge achievement for it’s day, natural selection is no longer regarded as the only – or even the primary – engine of evolution.

    Natural selection is the only posited non-telic mechanism that can produce design.

    Criticizing biology for the shortcomings of “Darwinism” is as much an attack on a strawman as would be hammering physicists for clinging to “Newtonism”.

    Darwin was the only person to attempt a theory of evolution.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Those who defend the theory of evolution by any means necessary (intimidation, ridicule, threats) find it to be a very strong and successful theory.

    Now, as the paper explains, “the ability of [the theory] satisfactorily to accommodate” unexpected findings has been “questioned”. And so, “an alternative conceptual framework” is required to replace the failed one. The new framework gives “novel predictions” because the old ones didn’t work.

    This just proves how strong evolutionary theory really is. It does a great job in handling it’s own internal contradictions as well as falsifications from observed data.

    “There are no weaknesses in evolutionary theory”. Failed predictions and the need for entirely new conceptual frameworks are clearly proof of its strength.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Neo-Darwinism does not need an extension, it needs a burial.

  6. 6
    EugeneS says:

    Seversky #2,

    Fine with Darwinism, I agree (although you and I would be regarded as evil and weird by Dawkins for that, but never mind).

    However, what else is there to (corrected, modernized) evolution? Neutral drift? Is there anything novel apart from undirectedness, chance and necessity that would be able to really account for observed biological complexity?

    Evolution (in whatever form) is only (blindly) acting on something that is already there. Ok, it can climb a gentle slope and get stuck. So? It acts only on already existing biologically functional systems. It cannot create genuine novelty.

    For a non-point algorithm (like ant colony optimization) to be a model of evolution, one must make crucial assumptions to depart from undirectedness and non-teleology. That type of ‘evolution’ is hardly evolution in its strict sense because it requires a priori communication between agents, possibly foresight and memory of bad states.

  7. 7
    ppolish says:

    “natural selection is no longer regarded as the only – or even the primary – engine of evolution.”

    Then you can understand the frustration, Seversky, that comes from listening to guys like Dawkins who worship NS & RM. You know, the accrepted dictionary definition of evolution.

    Is this bad Science Communication or just Bad Science?

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Seversky:

    …the theory of evolution is regarded by those who work in the field as a work-in-progress. not some fossilized dogma of Darwinism.

    That’s what makes the NCSE less of a front and more of an affront.

  9. 9
    cornucopian says:

    Are they seriously reconsidering their religious beliefs?

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    Here’s a new finding that the new extended synthesis needs to explain. The genome of California’s two-spot octopus has vertebrate genes involved in neuronal development. In other words, millions of years after hopping on a separate branch of the tree of life, this octopus managed to steal an entire family of genes from vertebrates.

    The researchers discovered striking differences between the genomes of the octopus and other invertebrates, including widespread rearrangements of genes and a dramatic expansion of a family of genes involved in neuronal development that was once thought to be unique to vertebrates.

    There is no rest for the wicked. 😀

  11. 11
    lifepsy says:

    “fundamentals of evolutionary theory” = things change over time.

    Such a useful theory.

  12. 12
    lifepsy says:

    Mapou:

    “Here’s a new finding that the new extended synthesis needs to explain. The genome of California’s two-spot octopus has vertebrate genes involved in neuronal development. In other words, millions of years after hopping on a separate branch of the tree of life, this octopus managed to steal an entire family of genes from vertebrates.”

    It’s just another magic wave of the wand called convergent evolution. The theory is a joke.

    The funny part is evolutionists abound with the alleged “potential falsification” of finding genes that contradict conventional phylogeny. It’s all such a sham.

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