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Evo Devo Challenges ID

For an exchange on evo devo between Michael Ruse, Sean Carroll, and me at Science & Theology News, go here.

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4 Responses to Evo Devo Challenges ID

  1. Ruse’s review contains a typical comment that, to my mind, is devastating to
    to evolution as a scientific project yet evolutionists seem to think is an
    indication of its health:

    “In 1959, a year marked by the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 100th anniversary of the publication of his Origin of Species, it all rather looked as if nothing remained except the shouting: Honorary degrees were being handed out wholesale and there was heady talk of prestigious prizes. It had been 30 years since Mendelian genetics had been blended with Darwinian selection, and it looked as though the result — known in America as the synthetic theory of evolution and in England as neo-Darwinism — was a well-established and essentially complete body of theory backed by empirical evidence.

    Fortunately and wonderfully, this was a totally false assumption. Darwinian theory has seen more changes and developments in the past 50 years than in the 100 years before: more than in the whole history of evolutionary theorizing.”

    What “changes” and “developments” is Ruse talking about? He mentions
    punk-eek and now evo-devo, both of which, whatever else they say, imply
    that the old Darwinian synthesis was fundamentally misguided. Not just wrong
    in a couple details, but basically wrong about the mechanism of macroevolution.
    In other words, back in 1959,despite their grandiose claims, evolutionists
    were kidding themselves that they had solved the basic problems of
    evolution.

    This is supposed to give us confidence that the evolutionists of today
    can be taken at their word when they say that evolutionary theory is in fine
    shape?

  2. It’s not fine in shape. Darwinism isn’t backed by much evidence. It’s only limited to certain areas. The new gene studies and the like are only going to raise more questions about it.

  3. I’m reading now EvoDevo-Literature since months. EvoDevo makes it pretty clear why the standard-answers of darwinism are not good:

    „Only a few of the processes listed above are addressed by the canonical neo-Darwinian theory, which is chiefly concerned with gene frequencies in populations and with the factors responsible for their variation and fixation. Although, at the phenotypic level, it deals with the modification of existing parts, the theory is intended to explain neither the origin of parts, nor morphological organization, nor innovation. In the neo-Darwinian world the motive factor for morphological change is natural selection, which can account for the modification and loss of parts. But selection has no innovative capacity: it eliminates or maintains what exists. The generative and the ordering aspects of morphological evolution are thus absent from evolutionary theory.“ (Müller 2003,51)

    Their goals are clear:

    “This reexamining of the Modern Synthesis has led to three great re-discoveries in modern biology. These are the simultaneous rediscoveries of macroevolution, homology, and the morphogenetic field. A new synthesis is emerging from these three areas, and this developmentally oriented synthesis may soon be able to explain macroevolutionary as well as microevolutionary processes.” (Gilbert 1996, 361)

    But it seems increasingly clear to me, that EvoDevo has the same basic problems in explaining complex systems, like the standard theory: The bacterial flagellum and all other systems like this must evolve step-by-step and unguided. EvoDevo primarily emphasizes and widens the sector “variation” (heterochrony, heterotopy, heterotypy, heterometry,…) -> therefore it has a broader perspective on “step-by-step ” as the “mutations with small or even invisible effects on the phenotype”-paradigm. This alone makes clearly no explanation of macroevolution. But it gives a good approach to explain the observable (micro)evolutionary phenomenons better – because EvoDevo includes a much more advanced view of organisms as neodarwinism.

    Take a look at some popular examples of EvoDevo, for example armor-variation in sticklebacks, eyespot-variation on butterfly wings and neotony in salamanders. Now read a teratology-book and feel the destructive breath of unguided modifications in development. And now take a look at the claims of EvoDevo-Enthusiasts… – ups, where is the challenge for ID in form of a plausible mechanism for macroevolution?

    Greetings from Austria!

    Müller, G.B. 2003: “Homology: The Evolution of Morphological Organization” 51-69 IN:
    Müller, G.B. & Newman, S.A. (eds) 2003: “Origination of Organismal Form. Beyond the Gene in Developmental and Evolutionary Biology” (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology) MIT-Press
    Gilbert S.F., Opitz, J.M., Raff, R.A. 1996: “Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology” Developmental Biology 173:357-372

  4. Great rebuttal Bill! The other name of EvoDevo is what I call Darwinian Fizzbin

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