Joined: Sep. 2006
|Quote (Guest @ Feb. 04 2008,11:00)|
|People still trying to read by the light of lava lamps.|
So for any questioning minds who happen to wander through TO I recommend:
The recent reviews in your columns of books by Dennett, Dawkins, and Behe are testimony to
the unflagging interest in controversies about evolution. Although such purists as Dennett and
Dawkins repeatedly assert that the scientific issues surrounding evolution are basically solved
by conventional neo-Darwinism, the ongoing public fascination reveals a deeper wisdom.
There are far more unresolved questions than answers about evolutionary processes, and
contemporary science continues to provide us with new conceptual possibilities.
Unfortunately, readers of Boston Review may remain unaware of this intellectual ferment
because the debate about evolution continues to assume the quality of an abstract and
philosophical "dialog of the deaf" between Creationists and Darwinists. Although our
knowledge of the molecular details of biological organization is undergoing a revolutionary
expansion, open-minded discussions of the impact of these discoveries are all too rare. The
possibility of a non-Darwinian, scientific theory of evolution is virtually never considered. In
my comments, then, I propose to sketch some developments in contemporary life science that
suggest shortcomings in orthodox evolutionary theory and open the door to very different
ways of formulating questions about the evolutionary process. After a discussion of technical
advances in our views about genome organization and the mechanisms of genetic change, I will
focus on a growing convergence between biology and information science which offers the
potential for scientific investigation of possible intelligent cellular action in evolution.
The past five decades of research in genetics and molecular biology have brought us
revolutionary discoveries. Upsetting the oversimplified views of cellular organization and
function held at mid-century, the molecular revolution has revealed an unanticipated realm of
complexity and interaction more consistent with computer technology than with the mechanical
viewpoint which dominated the field when the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis was
formulated. The conceptual changes in biology are comparable in magnitude to the transition
from classical physics to relativistic and quantum physics.
It has been a surprise to learn how thoroughly cells protect themselves against precisely the
kinds of accidental genetic change that, according to conventional theory, are the sources of
evolutionary variability. By virtue of their proofreading and repair systems, living cells are not
passive victims of the random forces of chemistry and physics. They devote large resources to
suppressing random genetic variation and have the capacity to set the level of background
localized mutability by adjusting the activity of their repair systems.
The point of this discussion is that our current knowledge of genetic change is fundamentally at
variance with neo-Darwinist postulates. We have progressed from the Constant Genome,
subject only to random, localized changes at a more or less constant mutation rate, to the Fluid
Genome, subject to episodic, massive and non-random reorganizations capable of producing
new functional architectures. Inevitably, such a profound advance in awareness of genetic
capabilities will dramatically alter our understanding of the evolutionary process. Nonetheless,
neo-Darwinist writers like Dawkins continue to ignore or trivialize the new knowledge and
insist on gradualism as the only path for evolutionary change.
For those that keep insisting that I answer the infantile canned bait and switch questions they propose... dream on.
Rather I would point out that I continue to study the history of science, be taught the scriptures, consider both forms of God's revelation (scripture and observation) and with assistance bring them into harmony.
What does it suggest that TO evolanders wish to misdirect the issues to the opinions of posters rather than the cutting edge views and evidences of those most closely associated and active with the science whether post-darwinian evolutionists, IDers, or neo-darwinians.
Perhaps those with sufficient curiosity to read Shapiro will agree that the arguments advanced by the living anachronisms, evolanders, of TO may darn well be best described as BS.
|James A. Shapiro is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago. He received a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard University in 1964 and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Cambridge University in 1968.|
I'm not sure if I should be inspired by his example. But dancing to lava lamps sounds like a good idea.
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?
AtBC Poet Laureate
"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive
"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr