Now that the obits for chief mourners and the enraged bawls of the Darwin trolls are done, we come to serious assessments. Michael Flannery, editor of Darwin’s banished co-theorist Wallace’s World of Life observes, re a Telegraph obit,
As the obit. interestingly observes, “Though advancing such theories exposed her to enormous hostility from within the scientific community, she came to be regarded as one of the most creative and respected researchers of her generation.” Note the last part of that statement. In the end, much of the “Gaia” concept can be retained within an overarching paradigm of wholly naturalistic evolution, thus making it far less revolutionary than one might think.
While Margulis could provide some useful observations concerning the errors of Darwinism, she could not be regarded as really challenging its most deeply rooted philosophical commitments. It must not be forgotten that James Lovelock pointed out quite clearly in a 1990 article in Nature, “Neither Lynn Margulis nor I have ever proposed a teleological hypothesis. Nowhere in our writings do we express the idea that planetary self-regulation is purposeful, or involves foresight or planning by the biota [or, for that matter, any other external force].”
Margulis always agreed with this as far as I can tell. They believed they could create the numinous by merely capitalizing Nature and exchanging a nature “red in tooth and claw” for a more cooperative symbiosis. No wonder, then, that in the end so many could make peace with a hypothesis that essentially sang the same materialistic song (however poetically expressed) only in a different key. The loss of any creative thinker like Margulis is unfortunate but let’s not raise her to the rarified status of path-breaking revolutionary. I just don’t see it.
Well, the serious discussion starts now. Thoughts?
11 Replies to “Putting Lynn Margulis in perspective: What DID she achieve?”
Lynn was an AMAZING teacher.
She had some great ideas.
She did some great research.
The rest I’ll forgive.
From the obit:
So much for the idea that Darwinian elite suppress contradictory findings. Where there are experiments, observations and data then the truth will eventually become established.
The only problem with endosymbiosis is there isn’t any way to scientifically test it. Right now the best we have is “mitochaondria look like they could have been bacteria”- and that ain’t science
What, exactly, are you forgiving?
Not so. There are many ways to scientifically test it, and the accumulation of that evidence is the reason why the initially sceptical scientific establishment was won over to the concept. They don’t just look like bacteria; they share a substantial array of metabolic and physiological features with them, features that are not displayed anywhere else in the cell. The same applies to the numerous plastids that represent separate endosymbiotic inclusions of other forms of bacterium to give plant and algal chloroplasts etc.
There is even substantial evidence of secondary and tertiary endosymbiosis whereby a kind of babushka arrangement has arisen, the membranes and nuclei of the ‘inner’ organisms still detectable within.
Umm that is just more of “they look like bacteria to me”.
Did you even even consider that the designer used the design of nacteria to design the power plant that is mitochondria?
Or how about the other way- that is bacteria arose from a dead eukaryote whose mitochondria survived on its own.
Can evolution make things less complicated?
Ya see Chas the only way to test the claim is to actually have one prok engulf another and have it set up just as mitochondria have.
Ah, you were using “looks like” in the sense of “retrieve the same relationship from multiple analyses upon membrane chemical composition, mechanisms of DNA replication and translation, ribosomal RNA, susceptibility to antibacterial agents, sequence and structure of riboosomal and enzymatic components and so on”.
Not even for one second, no. That’s a dumb idea. Why couldn’t such a designer design a power plant de novo without having to reference anything else? Nor does this notion explain why a ‘power plant’ needs to have its DNA replicate in the bacterial manner (indeed, why it needs DNA at all), nor why its translation is initiated by n-formylmethionine and mediated by ribosomal subunits of the bacterial type.
Or how about you are just inventing scenarios – anything to avoid accepting endosymbiosis, for reasons I cannot quite fathom? After all, a designer could initiate endosymbiosis.
We would require one such dead eukaryote to give the a-proteobacteria (from mitochondria), another to give cyanobacteria (from plant chloroplasts), another to give the red algae plastids, another the brown … the relationships between these organelles and their various closest relations do not support this view. Organelles are simply not equipped for life in the outside world. They have no cell wall; without it they are reliant on being isotonic with the surrounding cell. Put them in more dilute medium and they burst. Many of their vital proteins come from the outer cell (after a billion or two years, the symbiosis has become obligate).
The only way to demonstrate that something happened in the past is to do it now? Really? You accept uncritically the work of Penny, without demanding that he demonstrate that a bacterium can come out of a eukaryote. Yet “the only way” for the more commonly accepted fusion hypothesis is to do it? Bleh. And what then? You would be convinced of the reality of our endosymbiotic origin by such a parlour trick?
Well, that looks really good for ID! 🙂
Dude, relax. I do not accept the work of Penny. His work just demonstrates there are at least two explanations for the SAME evidence.
But anyway if the premise of endosymbiosis cannot be confirmed via experiment then it is useless wrt science.
And why would any designer design something de novo when he has already designed something that works?
I said where there are experiments, observations and data.
And so? All the data and experiments of biology are in favour of ID 🙂