Home » Darwinism, Genetics, News » Remember that Fate of Darwinism paper? Here’s what it says on Dawkins’ selfish gene …

Remember that Fate of Darwinism paper? Here’s what it says on Dawkins’ selfish gene …

Here, in “The Fate of Darwinism: Evolution After the Modern Synthesis,” David J. Depew • Bruce H. Weber in Biol Theory (2011) 6:89–102 DOI 10.1007/s13752-011-0007-1:

Among gene-centered interpretations, Richard Dawkins’s well-known ‘‘selfish gene’’ hypothesis stands out (Dawkins [1979] 1989). This hypothesis proposed to reduce the potential conflict between molecular and population genetics by reformulating the Modern Synthesis from a gene’s-eye point of view. According to Dawkins, DNA makes as many copies of itself as it can simply because that is what (allegedly) self-replicating molecules like DNA do. Genes are stretches of DNA that stick together through meiotic division by being translated into proteins that fold up to make cell types and tissue. These make phenotypes and the organisms that bear them. Some phenotypes enable the organisms that carry them to interact with environments in ways that reproductively outcompete others. This has the effect of increasing the representation of the genes that code for these more effective phenotypes. This ‘‘genocentric’’ model favors natural selection over other ‘‘forces’’ and accordingly assumes that most traits are adaptations. This ‘‘empirical adaptationism’’ is the Modern Synthesis all right, but it is a version of it that assigns not only causal but directional force to the inherent moremaking capacity of ‘‘selfish genes.’’

[ ... ]

This approach involves, however, an entirely speculative account of human evolution. Selfish gene theory, like most adaptationist versions of the Modern Synthesis, sees organisms as assemblies of relatively discreet adaptations. Accordingly, it has been favored by cognitive and behavioral scientists, who like to portray mental states as supervening on a set of functionally dedicated modules localized in specific parts of the brain. Natural selection, according to the argument of so-called evolutionary psychologists,evolved these adaptations, many of which tend to naturalize traditional gender roles, at an early period in human history (Barkow et al. 1992). Like its predecessor,sociobiology, evolutionary psychology has encouraged dissemination of the selfish gene version of the Modern Synthesis to the public as a way of connecting the social to the biological sciences in a quasi-reductionist manner aimed at justifying oft-frustrated hopes for a genuinely scientific, biologically grounded theory of human evolution.

See also: New mainstream paper: Darwinism can no longer be “a general framework for evolutionary theory”
[ ... ]

Like selfish gene theory, ardent advocates of sequencing the human genome as well as the genomes of the fruit fly, mouse, flatworm, and other model species typically construed organisms as collections of discreet adaptations, each of which is ‘‘read out only’’ from segments of genomes conceived as instruction manuals, blueprints, or computer programs for making organisms. Connected as they were to promises about genetic medicine, which, it was supposed, would eventually enable doctors to identify genes gone bad and replace them like burnt-out light bulbs, the HGP raised expectations for cures of inherited diseases in the public mind that were greeted with great suspicion by evolutionists with organism-centered views as well as by ecologists, developmental biologists, and clinicians, who understood the complexity and sensitivity of this process in ways that genetic technologists frequently did not.

[ ... ]

In this respect, Dawkins’s notion that genes are ‘‘self-replicators’’approaches incoherence. He might say that he means only that genes are self-replicators when all other things are equal. But when all other things are actually made equal by spelling out in detail the developmental process by which genes express traits, any self-replicative privilege assigned to genes disappears completely (Moss 2002).

We don’t suppose there’s much point in them reassuring the world that they are “not creationists or intelligent design advocates.” At this point, that hardly matters.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

23 Responses to Remember that Fate of Darwinism paper? Here’s what it says on Dawkins’ selfish gene …

  1. David J. Depew has some thoughts that might interest you”

    “For the new creationists these epistemological follies are an exploitable resource. When Intelligent Design theorists argue that some traits are too complex to have evolved by natural selection they do not mean to deny that many other traits have. They merely want to highlight what they view as materialist hand-waving about the origin of life and early cellular metabolism (Behe 1996). They should, of course, be held responsible by their scientific peers for implausibly suggesting that the limitations of one variant of one research program within the larger Darwinian tradition, which is itself but one of several traditions in evolutionary natural history, is enough to threaten the general interconnectedness of the natural sciences by transcendental intervention without causing the whole fabric to fall apart. It is far more plausible to conclude that problems about the origin of life and cellular evolution will sooner or later be solved by new facts, theories, and paradigms without violating the presumptions of methodological naturalism.

    Intelligent design advocates know full well, however, that for the primary audience to which they are playing the very point is to entertain the fantasy that one small chink in the armor of evolutionary science will send the whole framework of “materialist science” crashing down. Driven as it is personal-sphere anxieties about the meaning of life and, like the people of Dayton, Tennessee, by public-sphere resentments that local schools have been colonized by scientific elites, they would like nothing better than to see science reconceived simply as a large technological apparatus designed to make life better without entailing a rival theory of the world to the theocentrism they prefer. Would contemporary Intelligent Design theorists, I ask, be willing to take a stand against those who embrace their writings in this fideist spirit? I doubt it. They know what side their bread is buttered on.”

    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....ltext.html

    To me, this critiques are interesting. Sometimes meritorious, sometimes less so. I think they’ll result in a refinement of evolutionary theory, and maybe a new synthesis. But the walls aren’t tumbling down.

  2. Interesting quote. Do you think BA77 will add it to his spam library?

  3. I get the sense that not too many people take the selfish gene idea very seriously anymore. The idea is absurd on its face, essentially equivalent to suggesting that I have a selfish set of specifications for a screwdriver in my machine shop. As soon as we start asking some thoughtful questions about what it means for a sequence of nucleic acids to be selfish and how that selfishness is played out in the real world, the idea quickly collapses into what it really is — a word play.

    The only reason the idea got any traction in the first place is because it fulfilled (so Dawkins thought) the role of a designer substitute, explaining the apparent purposive quality of nature not in terms of any top-down planning or conscious activity, but in terms of a bottoms-up materialistic process. The concept never was based on any well-developed scientific analysis; rather it met a philosophical need by fulfilling part of the materialistic creation story. The particles create the genes and then the genes create nature, so the thinking goes . . .

    BTW, question for the mods: Does the math verification problem really help in stopping spammers? I only ask because it seems it would be pretty easy for a program to answer the math problems, probably easier than a captcha (I’m not advocating a captcha, mind you, some of them are a real pain). If the math problem is working, great. Just curious.

  4. I keep posting this, in the hope that someone here will listen and comment (or read Noble’s book, but the lecture essentially contains the content):

    http://videolectures.net/eccs07_noble_psb/

  5. Eric,

    Have you read The Selfish Gene, and if so, was it recently? I ask because your comment betrays a serious lack of understanding of the concept.

    You wrote:

    The idea is absurd on its face, essentially equivalent to suggesting that I have a selfish set of specifications for a screwdriver in my machine shop.

    If that set of specifications is really good at getting itself copied (for example, if the screwdriver produced by following those specs is wonderful, so that everyone wants one) then it is selfish in Dawkins’ sense. It ‘wants’ to get itself copied, and it succeeds. It’s a metaphor, but a good one.

    The people troubled by it generally fall into four categories:

    The first group includes people who are too literal in their interpretation of Dawkins, like Mary Midgley, who famously embarrassed herself by starting her review of The Selfish Gene thus: “Genes cannot be selfish or unselfish, any more than atoms can be jealous, elephants abstract or biscuits teleological.” I think you might be a member of this group, based on your screwdriver quote above.

    The second group consists of people who dislike anything Darwinian. The selfish gene is certainly a Darwinian concept, so it attracts the ire of these folks. I think you might be a member of this group, as well, because you write:

    The only reason the idea got any traction in the first place is because it fulfilled (so Dawkins thought) the role of a designer substitute, explaining the apparent purposive quality of nature not in terms of any top-down planning or conscious activity, but in terms of a bottoms-up materialistic process.

    You single out Dawkins in that quote, but I’m not sure why. It was Darwin, not Dawkins, who explained “the apparent purposive quality of nature not in terms of any top-down planning or conscious activity, but in terms of a bottoms-up materialistic process”. What distinguishes Dawkins’idea is his emphasis on the gene as the unit of selection. He doesn’t differ from Darwin in terms of explaining apparent design in biology.

    Which leads me to the third category of objectors. These folks think that it’s misleading to refer to genes as ‘selfish’ when they are often quite ‘cooperative’. Dawkins is quite sympathetic to this view:

    I want to say a little bit, which I actually also said in the new preface to the 30th anniversary edition, the title The Selfish Gene; I don’t think it’s a great title. I’m quite pleased with some of my other titles, but I don’t think this is one of my best. It can and has given rise to misunderstanding. The best way to explain it is by correctly locating the emphasis. If you emphasize ‘selfish’ then you will think the book is about selfishness, which it isn’t, it’s mostly about altruism. The correct word of the title to stress is ‘gene’ and that’s not because I ever thought that genes are deterministically important in the sense that is politically objectionable to some people; it’s because of a debate within Darwinism. The central debate within Darwinism concerns the unit that is actually selected, the kind of thing which becomes more or less numerous in the gene pool. That unit will become, more or less by definition, selfish, in this sense. Altruism would then be favoured at other levels. So if natural selection chooses between species, then we could write a book called The Selfish Species, and we would then expect individual organisms to behave for the good of the species. That isn’t the way it is; it is in fact the selfish gene, which means that we expect and see individual organisms behaving for the good of the selfish gene, which may mean altruistic behavior at the level of the individual organism. And that’s quite largely what the book is about.

    I can see how the title The Selfish Gene could be misunderstood, especially by those philosophers who prefer to read a book by title only, omitting the rather extensive footnote which is the book itself. Alternative titles could well have been The Immortal Gene, The Altruistic Vehicle, or indeed The Cooperative Gene. The book could equally well have been called The Cooperative Gene, and it would scarcely have needed to be changed at all.

    The fourth and last category includes people who don’t think the gene is necessarily the fundamental unit of selection. I suspect that Elizabeth might fall into this category, but I’m not sure. I haven’t watched the Denis Noble video that she recommends so highly in comment 3 (I will watch it, Elizabeth, I promise! :-)), but I did read a remark from a viewer who characterized it as a “critique of Richard Dawkins’ genecentric view of Biology.” So Denis Noble seems to fall into this category, whether or not Elizabeth also does.

    You wrote:

    The concept never was based on any well-developed scientific analysis; rather it met a philosophical need by fulfilling part of the materialistic creation story. The particles create the genes and then the genes create nature, so the thinking goes . . .

    This bears no resemblance to any ‘materialistic creation story’ that I’ve ever heard. Where did you get it?

    Also, your charge that “The concept was never based on any well-developed scientific analysis” is simply false. In fact, the selfish gene concept is the only successful explanation, as far as I know, for mother-child genetic conflict, as in gestational diabetes.

  6. I get the sense that not too many people take the selfish gene idea very seriously anymore.

    I’m haven’t noticed much change in views, but perhaps that’s because I am not a biologist.

    Personally, I never did like the selfish gene metaphor. I see it as placing too much emphasis on the gene, and not enough on the organism as a whole.

    As soon as we start asking some thoughtful questions about what it means for a sequence of nucleic acids to be selfish and how that selfishness is played out in the real world, the idea quickly collapses into what it really is — a word play.

    Curious. Did you not understand that it was a metaphor?

    BTW, question for the mods: Does the math verification problem really help in stopping spammers?

    I have wondered about something else. Some of the CAPCHAs call out for entering a number as an English word, rather than in arabic numerals. I’m wondering what happens if you try that.

  7. Thanks for the link. I am listening right now, though the playback just stalled. I do prefer prefer Noble’s way of looking at biology.

  8. BA77′s encyclopaedic knowledge of the massive convergence of the evidence in favour of Intelligent Design (were it ever needed by the sound of mind) has really got you materialists rattled, hasn’t it?

    After making a similar remark to yours, someone seemed to suggest how ‘cool’ it would be if, instead of providing links, BA77 copied out the linked articles, himself, presumably with his comments!

    Not a word in rebuttal of any of the actual, devastating empirical findings for materialists such as himself.

  9. Mankind, so much wiser than the atheist intellectual, has always called it, ‘trying to get blood out of a stone’, albeit in a necessarily metaphorical sense’; ‘necessarily’ because literally trying to get even the most rudimentary form of vegetable life out of inanimate matter is too fatuous for most people even to imagine.

    With all of modern science at their disposal, they haven’t even managed to create a living single-cell organism, ab initio.

  10. Dr(The Dogmatist)REC cites, (with Champ his ‘mindless’, for how can atheists even have a ‘mind’, atheistic lapdog concurring):

    ‘When Intelligent Design theorists argue that some traits are too complex to have evolved by natural selection they do not mean to deny that many other traits have. Intelligent design advocates know full well, however, that for the primary audience to which they are playing the very point is to entertain the fantasy that one small chink in the armor of evolutionary science will send the whole framework of “materialist science” crashing down.’

    You guys think that your ‘not even wrong’ hypothesis has got ‘armor’???,,, Armor to even have a chink in in the first place??? PSSST DrREC and Champ, I’ll tell you a little secret, the Darwinian emperor does not even have any clothes on much less does he have armor on!!!

    Nothing In Molecular Biology Is Gradual – Doug Axe PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5347797

    “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way. – Doug Axe PhD.

    Atheistic neo-Darwinists claim that given enough time the fantastically improbable becomes probable, even inevitable. i.e. Evolution, no matter how improbable, becomes certain if you allow enough time according to their reasoning. Thus to counter such simplistic reasoning in the miraculous power of time to work miracles, here are a few notes to the contrary of what the neo-Darwinists take on blind faith in their almighty power of time;

    William Lane Craig – If Human Evolution Did Occur It Was A Miracle – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUxm8dXLRpA

    In Barrow and Tippler’s book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, they list ten steps necessary in the course of human evolution, each of which, is so improbable that if left to happen by chance alone, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth. They estimate that the odds of the evolution (by chance) of the human genome is somewhere between 4 to the negative 180th power, to the 110,000th power, and 4 to the negative 360th power, to the 110,000th power. Therefore, if evolution did occur, it literally would have been a miracle and evidence for the existence of God.
    William Lane Craig

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations – Michael J. Behe
    Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’ (1 quadrillion years)(Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’ using their model (which nonetheless “using their model” gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9461

    The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway – Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe – April 2011
    Excerpt: We infer from the mutants examined that successful functional conversion would in this case require seven or more nucleotide substitutions. But evolutionary innovations requiring that many changes would be extraordinarily rare, becoming probable only on timescales much longer than the age of life on earth.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2011.1

    When Theory and Experiment Collide — April 16th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....t-collide/

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681

    Dr. Stephen Meyer comments at the end of the preceding video,,,

    ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’ – Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)

  11. Further notes:

    Dr. Hugh Ross – Origin Of Life Paradox – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4012696

    Archaean Microfossils and the Implications for Intelligent Design – August 2011
    Excerpt: This dramatically limits the amount of time, and thus the probablistic resources, available to those who wish to invoke purely unguided and purposeless material processes to explain the origin of life.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....49921.html

    Without enzyme, biological reaction essential to life takes 2.3 billion years: UNC study:
    In 1995, Wolfenden reported that without a particular enzyme, a biological transformation he deemed “absolutely essential” in creating the building blocks of DNA and RNA would take 78 million years.“Now we’ve found a reaction that – again, in the absence of an enzyme – is almost 30 times slower than that,” Wolfenden said. “Its half-life – the time it takes for half the substance to be consumed – is 2.3 billion years, about half the age of the Earth. Enzymes can make that reaction happen in milliseconds.”
    http://www.med.unc.edu/www/new.....-unc-study

    “Phosphatase speeds up reactions vital for cell signalling by 10^21 times. Allows essential reactions to take place in a hundreth of a second; without it, it would take a trillion years!” Jonathan Sarfati
    http://www.pnas.org/content/100/10/5607.abstract

    Not only do we not have enough time for Darwinian evolution, we don’t, as massive as it is, even have a big enough universe for Darwinian evolution:

    Abiogenic Origin of Life: A Theory in Crisis – Arthur V. Chadwick, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: The synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids from small molecule precursors represents one of the most difficult challenges to the model of prebiological evolution. There are many different problems confronted by any proposal. Polymerization is a reaction in which water is a product. Thus it will only be favored in the absence of water. The presence of precursors in an ocean of water favors depolymerization of any molecules that might be formed. Careful experiments done in an aqueous solution with very high concentrations of amino acids demonstrate the impossibility of significant polymerization in this environment. A thermodynamic analysis of a mixture of protein and amino acids in an ocean containing a 1 molar solution of each amino acid (100,000,000 times higher concentration than we inferred to be present in the prebiological ocean) indicates the concentration of a protein containing just 100 peptide bonds (101 amino acids) at equilibrium would be 10^-338 molar. Just to make this number meaningful, our universe may have a volume somewhere in the neighborhood of 10^85 liters. At 10^-338 molar, we would need an ocean with a volume equal to 10^229 universes (100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000) just to find a single molecule of any protein with 100 peptide bonds. So we must look elsewhere for a mechanism to produce polymers. It will not happen in the ocean.
    http://origins.swau.edu/papers.....fault.html

  12. BA77?s encyclopaedic knowledge

    That phrase puts a smile on my face.

  13. Axel, I appreciate the intent of the compliment, but I truly do think it is unwarranted,,, but if you really do want to see someone who really does have an encyclopedic knowledge of the massive evidence against neo-Darwinism that is very impressive, and who does rattle atheists with that encyclopedic knowledge, I suggest you check out Dr. Cornelius Hunter’s website here:

    Darwin’s Predictions
    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/

  14. footnote:

    Proteins Did Not Evolve Even According to the Evolutionist’s Own Calculations but so What, Evolution is a Fact – Cornelius Hunter – July 2011
    Excerpt: For instance, in one case evolutionists concluded that the number of evolutionary experiments required to evolve their protein (actually it was to evolve only part of a protein and only part of its function) is 10^70 (a one with 70 zeros following it). Yet elsewhere evolutionists computed that the maximum number of evolutionary experiments possible is only 10^43. Even here, giving the evolutionists every advantage, evolution falls short by 27 orders of magnitude.
    The theory, even by the evolutionist’s own reckoning, is unworkable. Evolution fails by a degree that is incomparable in science. Scientific theories often go wrong, but not by 27 orders of magnitude. And that is conservative.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....d-not.html

  15. I keep posting this, in the hope that someone here will listen and comment

    I did! In a shortened version of my previous comment, I think he misrepresents Dawkins’s thesis. Dawkins is looking at a reductionist view of evolution (by genotype change), and not necessarily a reductionist way to understand phenotypes (though clearly, phenotypes are built from genes + environment).

    Only genes survive the organism. In building an organism, it is undoubted that there is not a gene ‘for’ this or that bit of it. But essentially, the ‘selfish gene’ lurks deep and unexpressed within the germ line copies. It ‘pulls levers’ via its effect on phenotype – the building and expression of a vast complex diploid soma, made from those very same genes acting in concert. But ultimately, it all reduces back to genotypes in the next generation, which are scattered to the four winds by recombination. The complexity of implementation of a gene’s action on phenotype does not preclude a reductionist viewpoint of evolution – each gene succeeds or fails in an environment that includes other genes, in a succession of bodies.

  16. With all of modern science at their disposal, they haven’t even managed to create a living single-cell organism, ab initio.

    Suggesting that intelligent design is not, on present evidence, sufficient. Leaving a bunch of chemicals lying around for a few years is clearly not sufficient either, but I’m not sure why failure to intelligently design organisms should be regarded as evidence for Intelligent Design.

  17. The issue is phenotype is not reducible to genotype.

    IOW genes may influence development but they do not determine what will develop.

    And unfortunately there isn’t any evidence that phenotypes are built from genes + environment.

  18. Elizabeth: I want to thank you for your persistence. I watched this video and was richly rewarded. This should be required watching for anyone interested in biology!

  19. The issue is phenotype is not reducible to genotype.

    You miss the point. The issue is that it is not phenotype that is evolving, but genotype. Phenotype changes because genotype does, not the other way around. Dawkins’s reductionism is an evolutionary reductionism, not a phenotypic one. But clearly, to increase in the gene pool by its own effects, a gene’s contribution to phenotype must be positive for the gene. Complex interaction in development, and lack of a 1:1 mapping from gene to organismal feature, does not invalidate that principle, and Noble seems to miss the evolutionary side of Dawkins’s metaphor (ie, most of Dawkins’s point).

    The fact that elements of phenotype may come from places other than genotype – environment and your mysterious “Factor X” – does not change the fact that only genotype survives the organism. In Noble’s metaphor, the score survives after the last notes have died down in a particular performance.

    IOW genes may influence development but they do not determine what will develop.

    And unfortunately there isn’t any evidence that phenotypes are built from genes + environment.

    Another of your little “there isn’t any evidence” homilies. I would submit that twins, asexual clones and severely inbred lines give strong evidence that genes do indeed build the organism, with undoubted input from environmental factors. I don’t know what “Factor X” you have in mind OTHER than G+E. Presumably your next statement will be “YOUR position has no evidence that there is not something more than G+E” (ie Science has to prove that something I made up does not exist). Care to be more explicit on what this mysterious developmental force vital may be?

  20. The issue is that it is not phenotype that is evolving, but genotype.

    Right, but if changes to the genotype cannot account for the changes required in the phenotype, then you don’t have anything.

    Another of your little “there isn’t any evidence” homilies.

    And another time it happens to be true.

    I would submit that twins, asexual clones and severely inbred lines give strong evidence that genes do indeed build the organism, with undoubted input from environmental factors.

    I would submit that you don’t know what you are talking about.

    We cannot take fish DNA, put it into an egg of a reptile and get a fish to develop.

    I don’t know what “Factor X” you have in mind OTHER than G+E.

    It’s called programming.

    So perhaps someday you may have some evidence for the claims of your position. But obvioulsy that day ain’t today.

  21. Thanks for all your links B.A I know some people Whine about them but you provide very good information which is appreciated.

  22. We cannot take fish DNA, put it into an egg of a reptile and get a fish to develop.

    What does that demonstrate? DNA expression is controlled by proteins made by recent copies of that same DNA strand. Proteins made by distantly related pieces of DNA would not be expected to work by leaping across species, any more than you could successfully hybridise with a gorilla. What do you think should happen? A repofish? A fishertile? What actually comes out of this little thought experiment of yours, that so elegantly dismisses the role of genes in development?

    It’s called programming.

    Ah. How is ‘programming’ inherited over the long term, do you think? Via DNA, perhaps? Or does expression control just survive indefinitely independently of the genome?

    So perhaps someday you may have some evidence for the claims of your position. But obvioulsy that day ain’t today.

    Some evidence that genes are inherited, and not phenotype? Jeez Joe, where have you been?


  23. We cannot take fish DNA, put it into an egg of a reptile and get a fish to develop.

    What does that demonstrate?

    It demonstrates that DNA does not determine the final form.

    DNA expression is controlled by proteins made by recent copies of that same DNA strand.

    Yes and what does that have to do with my scenario?

    What actually comes out of this little thought experiment of yours, that so elegantly dismisses the role of genes in development?

    Please support your false accusation that I have dismissed the rles of genes in development?

    I have said that genes influence development- they do not determine it. And if DNA determined the final form then we would expect a fish to develop when fish DNA was put into a reptile’s egg.

    Also DNA is not the program any more than the hard drive is the program.

    If Venter’s experiment told us anything it is that DNA is not the software rather DNA is used to carry out the instructions.

    And the evidence your position needs is that changes to genotypes can account for all the observed diversity in phenotypes.

    So far all the evidence supports baraminology in that there is a definite limit to the phenotype that changes to the genotype can produce.

Leave a Reply