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Third Way of Evolution offers lots of non-Darwinian evolution

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A reader writes to draw our attention to the Third Way of evolution:

The vast majority of people believe that there are only two alternative ways to explain the origins of biological diversity. One way is Creationism that depends upon intervention by a divine Creator. That is clearly unscientific because it brings an arbitrary supernatural force into the evolution process. The commonly accepted alternative is Neo-Darwinism, which is clearly naturalistic science but ignores much contemporary molecular evidence and invokes a set of unsupported assumptions about the accidental nature of hereditary variation. Neo-Darwinism ignores important rapid evolutionary processes such as symbiogenesis, horizontal DNA transfer, action of mobile DNA and epigenetic modifications. Moreover, some Neo-Darwinists have elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems without a real empirical basis. Many scientists today see the need for a deeper and more complete exploration of all aspects of the evolutionary process.

Someone must have opened the window.

The web site therefore intends to present a wide variety of novel views about evolution but does not necessarily endorse any of them. Our goal is simply to make new thinking about evolution available in one place on the web.

The Third Way web site provides a vehicle for new voices to be heard in evolution debates. It will be a forum for accessing empirical data on areas that have been glossed over by Neo-Darwinian viewpoints. The goal is to focus attention on the molecular and cellular processes which produce novelty without divine interventions or sheer luck.

Evolution is a complex subject, and projections and hypotheses will need to be based on documented empirical results. This site will make it easier for all those interested in evolution to find new hypotheses, theoretical arguments, and well-documented observations. The site provides a resource for those who wish to explore experimental research and theories that do not fit easily or at all into current mainstream thinking.

The project was launched on 30th May 2014 by James Shapiro, Raju Pookottil (who created the website) and Denis Noble. The site is open to established scholars in the sciences, philosophy, history and related humanities who have published work related to THE THIRD WAY

The list of current contributors/supporters reminds me of Suzan Mazur’s latest book, The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing “the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin.”

You’ll want to bookmark it for a handy front row seat guide to some key players.

Jerry doesn’t like it.

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

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12 Replies to “Third Way of Evolution offers lots of non-Darwinian evolution

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    The goal is to focus attention on the molecular and cellular processes which produce novelty without divine interventions or sheer luck.

    Are they still methodological naturalists then?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: The Platypus Genome 10-10-2015 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDx8ZHsPOEI

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    Are they still methodological naturalists then?

    The issue has always been are there naturalistic processes (cell division, recombination, retroposons etc.) that can produce functional complexity or whether it is beyond any such processes. Whether it was trial and error using naturalistic processes and Darwinian natural selection or some other process has really been a non issue for the anti-ID people. Darwinian processes was all most thought they had but there has always been others looking at different processes because most evolutionary biologists knew the weaknesses of the natural selection argument.

    The real bogey man were those who thought some super intelligence had a hand in it and this explanation had to be defeated at all cost. Darwin would die in a nano second if a plausible alternative process was discovered and documented. This does not mean they would embrace ID. Quite the contrary, they would denounce ID quickly.

    Many theists ascribe to naturalistic processes so what are they? In reality these people are ID people who said that the initial conditions were such that life as we know it would eventually unfold or evolve.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    One way is Creationism that depends upon intervention by a divine Creator. That is clearly unscientific because it brings an arbitrary supernatural force into the evolution process.

    I have come to hate the word “supernatural”. It’s an evil word that really means “we have no clue”. Essentially, what the author is saying is that science should accept only the existence of things that it can understand. In other words, since he/she has no clue as to how life on earth could have been designed by a powerful group of intelligent engineers, therefore it could not possibly have happened that way. Beware of those who use of the word “supernatural” in a scientific context. They are more clueless than you are.

    Evolution, third way or not, is really a form of cargo cult science performed by primitive minds who cannot fathom the existence of powerful beings who can, not only design living organisms, but entire universes as well. The blind leading the blind.

  5. 5
    News says:

    My main interest is in the fact that these are Darwin-optional discussions. I have no idea where it will lead. When the ice breaks on a far northern river, you hear the booms but you do not know where the fissures will be.

  6. 6
    Mapou says:

    News @5,

    I agree. It’s a sign of panic in the ranks, IMO.

  7. 7
    George E. says:

    The main problem with this third-way silliness is that we already have a solution to the riddle of the origin of life: it was intelligently designed.

    I understand these guys don’t like the idea of admitting the existence of an intelligent designer. They would very much prefer it to be otherwise. Well, that’s just too bad! It is what is. So they can either admit the obvious and start behaving like decent human beings again (I’m sure they were decent at one time), or they can continue to beat their heads against the wall until they croak. The choice is up to them. It makes no difference to me either way.

  8. 8
    goodusername says:

    Jerry,

    Many theists ascribe to naturalistic processes so what are they? In reality these people are ID people who said that the initial conditions were such that life as we know it would eventually unfold or evolve.

    In most such cases, I would say that they are Darwinists. Unless one wants to argue that Darwin wasn’t a Darwinist: “I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws”

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    In most such cases, I would say that they are Darwinists. Unless one wants to argue that Darwin wasn’t a Darwinist: “I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws”

    The so-called process of naturalistic evolution is a multi-fold process. But basically, there is the origin of variation and then there is the persistence of some of this variation. If there is enough variation that persists then supposedly a new species will arise.

    Darwin had nothing to offer for the origin of new variation except it happened. His thesis on variation was that it happened slowly or gradually. His big idea is why some of it persists and possibly replaced previous organisms. Nobody really disputes that natural selection has some effect on what persists. What the evolution debate is really about is over the source of the variation and how much of it can arise through natural means

    So even if one of these so-called alternative theories gets traction, it does not undermine natural selection or Darwin completely. What it will undermine is gradualism. Gradualism and natural selection are two different concepts. That is why punctuated equilibrium is not totally anti-Darwin. It is mainly about the origin of variation whereas Darwin is mainly about the persistence of this variation which replaces previous organisms or adds a new line altogether.

  10. 10
    goodusername says:

    Jerry,

    Nobody really disputes that natural selection has some effect on what persists.

    Except for those that argue that it’s a tautology, although I think that’s a silly misunderstanding of the theory.

    So even if one of these so-called alternative theories gets traction, it does not undermine natural selection or Darwin completely.

    I only looked at the alternative ideas briefly, but some looked anti-Darwinian while others didn’t, so I think it would depend on which alternative gained traction. Novel ideas regarding the source of variation isn’t necessarily anti-Darwinian since, as you say, it’s irrelevant to Darwinism since Darwinism says nothing about the source. But some are saying that most mutations/variations are adaptive and in response to the environment. That does sound rather anti-Darwinian to me (or at least reduces Natural Selection to a very minor role in evolution).

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    Except for those that argue that it’s a tautology, although I think that’s a silly misunderstanding of the theory.

    You are right. Natural selection is not a process but an outcome of differential reproduction and differential survival all of which happens and is not really disputed. What causes the differential reproduction and survival will vary from time to time and place to place.

    But some are saying that most mutations/variations are adaptive and in response to the environment.

    I doubt this. I would guess that most variation has zero adaptive potential. Some will but the great majority will not. If there were some process guiding this then we would see a high percentage of variation leading to adaptation. But we don’t. What we may see is the environment affecting which genes get expressed so some characteristics will appear while others are suppressed. But this is not due to variation. For example, Darwin’s finches.

    This is really another way of saying natural selection unless the “some” believe that the specific variation is caused by the environment and the process produces adaptive variations as opposed to just random variations. (But I just said this doesn’t happen) I can understand how certain environments may affect the variation but will the actual variation be adaptive?

    Is there some process that guides what variation will appear? Can anyone point to anything in the cell or is this just speculation. Where in the cell is the structure that guides this process?

    Might be true but now it is just speculation unless someone has some evidence how it happens. Even epigenetic expression of one gene vs another is mysterious. This actually happens but how?

  12. 12
    Robert Byers says:

    It is not unscientific to include in biology anything that actually was a force in biology. So God is as scientific a option as anything else.
    How not?
    Yes there is a doubt or a hunch that evolutionism, as is, is not good enough by far.
    Panic in the ranks indeed.
    It shows they are not persuaded by the evidence and so why should anyone. Are they ‘scientists”.? if not persuaded then why not?
    It always moved in tiny circles and not the sharpest. Only now are a few more folks thinking about these things in a serious way.
    I still say that explaining the different looks etc of mankind would go a long way to settling these matters.
    Everyone must explain iot and evolutionists shy away but so do YEC.
    obviously its from innate triggers in existing biology makeup of man.

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