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Rob Sheldon: Mainstreaming epigenetics sheds light on unsavory history of Darwinism

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In response to our recent item on the mainstreaming of epigenetics, physicist Rob Sheldon writes to say, in connection with the recent studies of the generational epigenetic effects following mass starvation,

It is, of course, refreshing to see epigenetics now making the mainstream publications. What has me in stitches, however, is all the things that are not said:

a) that Darwin hated Lamarck because it reintroduced teleology into evolution. Darwin’s whole purpose was to remove teleology and purpose from a discussion of life, thereby destroying theism. Now the reintroduction of epigenetics leaves the Darwinist program in tatters.

b) that the Dutch hunger winter of 1944 wasn’t just Germany blockading Holland, it was the Nazi party. That acme of Darwinian progress deliberately starved the Dutch as punishment, or perhaps simply for pleasure.

c) that the great Ukrainian famine of 1932 was artificial. Plenty of food in the fields, but the Communists forcibly took all the food precisely in order to starve the Ukrainian kulaks. Pure, unadulterated malice.

d) the great Chinese famine of 1958 was caused by Mao’s mistaken “Great Leap Forward” in which he forcibly combined the little rice paddies of individual farmers into giant cooperatives which proceeded to plow the clay-lined paddies with tractors, thereby destroying the water-retention properties necessary to grow rice. It is hard to know whether it was malice or incompetence, but seeing as it went on for 3 years, I would have to say Mao was imitating Stalin.

So not only did Darwin lose out to Lamarck, but it was discovered through the malice of his devotees.

A truly ironic piece in the New York Review of Books. A real keeper.

Maybe it was malice. But the mass murderers cited above thought that their malice was science and that science included directed malice. That is precisely what made Darwinism in action so deadly, in terms of numbers killed during the twentieth century.

One can only get so far with malice based on a grievance (They done us wrong!) or religion (They’re unbelievers!). After a while, uninvolved parties don’t care much. But science makes universal claims, for good or ill. And with Darwinism well-entrenched among the Western urban elite, it is very difficult to even evaluate its science claims, let alone to have a serious discussion of its true outcomes.

Epigenetics shows the genome to be far too plastic to do what Darwinians have needed.

The Long Ascent: Genesis 1-11 in Science & Myth, Volume 1 by [Sheldon, Robert] Rob Sheldon is the author of Genesis: The Long Ascent

See also: Epigenetics: “[n]ew ideas closely related to Lamarck’s eighteenth-century views have become central to our understanding of genetics.” Epigenetics is another nail in the coffin of traditional Darwinism because the just-so stories of natural selection acting on random mutations depend, among other things, on the assumption that the inherited genome is a sort of lockbox with no influences other than its own random mutations. If the genome is as plastic as it now appears, many non-random factors influence it in predictable ways. The market for Darwinian just-so stories about how and why changes occur is likely to tank as the new approach sinks in.

and

Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!

3 Replies to “Rob Sheldon: Mainstreaming epigenetics sheds light on unsavory history of Darwinism

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    that Darwin hated Lamarck because it reintroduced teleology into evolution.

    Does Rob Sheldon have any evidence for this? And can he explain why, if Darwin hated Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, he used Lamarck’s theories in the latter editions of OoS.

  2. 2
    goodusername says:

    Actually, even in the first edition of Origin there were many passages supporting the inheritance of acquired characteristics:

    EFFECTS OF USE AND DISUSE.
    From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited.

    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1228/1228-h/1228-h.htm

    The issue that Darwin had with Lamarckism was not with “the inheritance of acquired characteristics” but with the directional, “progressive” nature of Lamarck’s theory.
    (With Lamarck, there was no “common descent of all species.” Simpler lifeforms were continually evolving into more complex lifeforms, and so Lamarck evoked spontaneous generation as the explanation for why simpler lifeforms were still around.)

    What has me in stitches is how recently it was that Darwin was routinely mocked for his support of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Here’s an evolutionnews.org article from all the way back in 2013 arguing that without Darwinism that “Lamarckianism would likely have died a quicker and more merciful death.”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2013/04/what_would_a_wo/

    And speaking of famines, at least part of the reason for famines in the USSR was a rejection of Darwinism (in all but name) and doing quack experiments with crops in favor of a form of neo-Lamarckism (Lysenkoism).

  3. 3
    ET says:

    Bob O’H- Lamarck’s theory posited changes driven by the environment or acquired all for the benefit of the organism. The change was in response to specific needs- the neck of the giraffe being a prime example. With Darwin and natural selection there isn’t any goal.

    I think where the two agreed was in the disuse of organs, structures or adaptations (no longer needed) and how that affects organisms. They also agreed about change over time (gradual) and that life started out less complex.

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