Archive for September, 2010

A Third Way by Shapiro

An online article by James A. Shapiro

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 “dialogue 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.

Full text @ Boston Review

His other more scientific publications

Categories: Non-Darwin Tags: , ,

Letter from Lamarck

It’s a pity that I have to put this disclaimer up front, that I’m not a Lamarckist. The times we live in… sigh…
I got this letter today from a systems biologist, Dr. Denis Noble of Oxford. It’s a made up letter, but it makes a very relevant point, regarding the similarity between Darwin and Lamarck’s ideas, and how Lamarck has been given such a bad press. Some references might come as a shock to a few neo-Darwinists!

“On reading the amusing article ‘Why I hate epigenetics’ (Physiology News 77, Winter 2009, p. 43) Denis Noble dreamt that he was the Editor and had received the following letter, which he then translated into English for the benefit of readers of Physiology News:”

Letter from Lamarck (kindly click)

Notes by Denis Noble
1. In his introduction to Harvard’s republication in 1964 of The Origin of Species, Ernst Mayr wrote (pp. xxv–xxvi) “Curiously few evolutionists have noted that, in addition to natural selection, Darwin admits use and disuse as an important evolutionary mechanism. In this he is perfectly clear. For instance,… on page 137 he says that the reduced size of the eyes in moles and other burrowing mammals is ‘probably due to gradual reduction from disuse, but aided perhaps by natural selection’. In the case of cave animals, when speaking of the loss of eyes he says, ‘I attribute their loss wholly to disuse’ (p. 137). On page 455 he begins unequivocally, ‘At whatever period of life disuse or selection reduces an organ…’ The importance he gives to use or disuse is indicated by the frequency with which he invokes this agent of evolution in the Origin. I find references on pages 11, 43, 134, 135, 136, 137, 447, 454, 455, 472, 479, and 480.”

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

We need to think like Darwin once again!

Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject my theory.
[Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Species]

Categories: Darwin, Philosophy Tags: ,