Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.
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I am a University student and I have an interest in evolution. Over the past few months I have been emailing many scientists (biologists and ecologists etc) as I believe that evolution has moved beyond the neo-Darwinian paradigm.
Now this is quite a confusing subject, becuase I have recieved a mixed response from different scientists. Some admit to me that neo-Darwinism is outdated and incomplete whilst some others still represent that view.
Eugene V. Koonin in his book 'The Logic of Chance' (The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution) is critical towards neo-Darwinism or 'Modern Synthesis' as they call it and he sees a totally new paradigm shift developing in evolution. The American biologist James A. Shapiro author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century has also said the same thing. Some other scientists have also told me by 2020 they see neo-Darwinism as totally dead.
What is to be said about this? Any scientists actually in the field here can they confirm any of this? Thanks.
If anyone is interested I suggest you read the following papers to see just some of the scientists who want to move beyond neodarwinism:
Eugene Koonin, in his research paper, titled "Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics", published 12 Feb 2009, says:
"Now, 50 years after the consolidation of the Modern Synthesis, evolutionary biology undoubtedly faces a new major challenge and, at the same time, the prospect of a new conceptual breakthrough"....."By contrast, the insistence on adaptation being the primary mode of evolution that is apparent in the Origin, but especially in the Modern Synthesis, became deeply suspicious if not outright obsolete, making room for a new worldview that gives much more prominence to non-adaptive processes"......"Collectively, the developments in evolutionary genomics and systems biology outlined here seem to suggest that, although at present only isolated elements of a new, 'postmodern' synthesis of evolutionary biology are starting to be formulated, such a synthesis is indeed feasible. Moreover, it is likely to assume definitive shape long before Darwin's 250th anniversary"
Michael R Rose and Todd H Oakley, in their research paper, titled "The new biology: beyond the Modern Synthesis" published on 24 November 2007 wrote that The last third of the 20th Century featured an accumulation of research findings that severely challenged the assumptions of the "Modern Synthesis" which provided the foundations for most biological research during that century. The foundations of that "Modernist" biology had thus largely crumbled by the start of the 21st Century. This in turn raises the question of foundations for biology in the 21st Century".
Soft inheritance: Challenging the Modern Synthesis Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb
This paper presents some of the recent challenges to theModern Synthesis of evolutionary theory, which has dominatedevolutionary thinking for the last sixty years. The focus ofthe paper is the challenge of soft inheritance - the idea that variations that arise during development can beinherited. There is ample evidence showing that phenotypic variations that are independent of variations in DNAsequence, and targeted DNA changes that are guided by epigenetic control systems, are important sources ofhereditary variation, and hence can contribute to evolutionary changes. Furthermore, under certain conditions, themechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome. These discoveriesare clearly incompatible with the tenets of the Modern Synthesis, which denied any significant role forLamarckian and saltational processes. In view of the data that support soft inheritance, as well as other challengesto the Modern Synthesis, it is concluded that that synthesis no longer offers a satisfactory theoretical framework forevolutionary biology.
There's a reason they call it a synthesis - it integrates new elements into a forming picture. Genomics and epigenetics are telling us that there's more to the process, no real surprise there, but that doesn't mean that the old stuff is irrelevant.
If you read the above papers, especially the last one you would see that is not the case. The neo-Darwinian framework is limited, it is not a real synthesis. Note how neo-Darwinism said any Lamarckian type mechanism or feedback was impossible - yet it has been observed. This is why evolution need to be accepted to have moved beyond neo-Darwinism.
That's not how science works - just because a detail of one system turns out to be untrue, the whole system isn't invalidated. Welcome to biology...
And since neo-darwinism pulled natural selection and genetics together, I don't see how it can be anything other than a synthesis.
Sorry but you are wrong. Science is not meant to be static. It is impossible that horizontal gene transfer, symbiogenesis, whole genome doubling, natural genetic engineering fit into Darwin's strict advocacy of gradualism via "numerous, successive, slight variations". We just have to accept that a new frame work is needed.
American Biologist James A. Shapiro has written on this and has said that evolution has moved beyond a Darwinian gradual framework as many evolutionary mechanisms fit better into a saltational school. You might want to read his book Evolution: A View from the 21st Century.
Here is biologist Eugene Koonin in 2009 who has claimed evolution HAS moved beyond neo-Darwinism:
See Eugene Koonin, The Origin at 150: Is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight?" Trends in Genetics, 25(11), November 2009, pp. 473-475 and Eugene Koonin, Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics, Nucleic Acids Research, 37(4), 2009, pp. 1011-1034
By the way Koonin also states in the above paper "The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair".
Well said. Most scientists involved with the Altenberg conference at the Konrad Lorenz Institute also advocated an extended synthesis.
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