Home » Evolution, News » This year’s wishful thinking?: “Constructive neutral evolution” can create complex processes like splicing and RNA editing …

This year’s wishful thinking?: “Constructive neutral evolution” can create complex processes like splicing and RNA editing …

 

J Mol Evol. 1999 Aug;49(2):169-81.

On the possibility of constructive neutral evolution.

Stoltzfus A

Department of Biochemistry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4H7 Canada.

Abstract:

The neutral theory often is presented as a theory of “noise” or silent changes at an isolated “molecular level,” relevant to marking the steady pace of divergence, but not to the origin of biological structure, function, or complexity. Nevertheless, precisely these issues can be addressed in neutral models, such as those elaborated here with regard to scrambled ciliate genes, gRNA-mediated RNA editing, the transition from self-splicing to spliceosomal splicing, and the retention of duplicate genes. All of these are instances of a more general scheme of “constructive neutral evolution” that invokes biased variation, epistatic interactions, and excess capacities to account for a complex series of steps giving rise to novel structures or operations. The directional and constructive outcomes of these models are due not to neutral allele fixations per se, but to these other factors. Neutral models of this type may help to clarify the poorly understood role of nonselective factors in evolutionary innovation and directionality.

Some of us ask, if that’s true why don’t we see neutral evolution producing much more than just plain change without improvement in all kinds of things? It’s the same problem as, if life can come into existence through purely natural processes, with no added information, why don’t we see it happening?

Why was Louis Pasteur right when he said omne vivum ex vivo: Life comes only from life?

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9 Responses to This year’s wishful thinking?: “Constructive neutral evolution” can create complex processes like splicing and RNA editing …

  1. What’s the betting that natural selection remains in the background to be rolled out if one questions the probability of neutral evolution being able to design functional complexity?

    One does seem to on fairly exposed ground saying that mutations that are random with respect to fitness are just the ticket for producing elephants and weasels without selection.

  2. Berlinski had this humorous remark as to Motoo Kimura’s ‘The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution’

    Majestic Ascent: Berlinski on Darwin on Trial – David Berlinski – November 2011
    Excerpt: The publication in 1983 of Motoo Kimura’s The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution consolidated ideas that Kimura had introduced in the late 1960s. On the molecular level, evolution is entirely stochastic, and if it proceeds at all, it proceeds by drift along a leaves-and-current model. Kimura’s theories left the emergence of complex biological structures an enigma, but they played an important role in the local economy of belief. They allowed biologists to affirm that they welcomed responsible criticism. “A critique of neo-Darwinism,” the Dutch biologist Gert Korthof boasted, “can be incorporated into neo-Darwinism if there is evidence and a good theory, which contributes to the progress of science.”
    By this standard, if the Archangel Gabriel were to accept personal responsibility for the Cambrian explosion, his views would be widely described as neo-Darwinian.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....53171.html

    Further notes:

    Richard Dawkins’ reaction upon learning epigenetics has falsified neo-Darwinism. – video cartoon
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-ZrZtiG9iI

    Just received this book in the mail this morning; :)

    The Mysterious Epigenome: What Lies Beyond DNA
    http://www.amazon.com/Mysterio.....0825441927

    Review excerpt: Genetic mutations are the supposed “engines that drive evolution.” However, when it comes to epigenetics, these so-called engines appear to be off, as phenotypic changes are passed from parent to offspring with no sign of a genetic change having occurred. More than ever, our understanding of the genome and epigenome makes it clear that we were indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. It is past time for Darwinism to move to the back of the class, or to another class like history or philosophy, so we can make more room in science courses to talk about real scientific advances. If you are not convinced that a paradigm shift in biology education is necessary and long overdue, then you haven’t read The Mysterious Epigenome!

    Music:

    Empty (Empty Cross Empty Tomb) with Dan Haseltine Matt Hammitt (Music Inspired by The Story)
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=F22MCCNU

  3. Arlin’s ideas are now 13 years old but even when he wrote that article it was a common theme in modern evolutionary biology. Non-Darwinian concepts such as this are important features of evolutionary theory in the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

    So, why do the IDiots keep referring to modern evolutionary theory as “Darwinism”? I think it’s because they don’t understand modern evolutionary theory. They think that modern scientists are stuck in the 19th century. Is that because most IDiots are back there as well?

  4. Arlin’s ideas are now 13 years old but even when he wrote that article it was a common theme in modern evolutionary biology.

    Wow, Larry can do basic math!

    So, why do the IDiots keep referring to modern evolutionary theory as “Darwinism”?

    Names please or a reference.

  5. Larry Moran:

    So, why do the IDiots keep referring to modern evolutionary theory as “Darwinism”? I think it’s because they don’t understand modern evolutionary theory. They think that modern scientists are stuck in the 19th century. Is that because most IDiots are back there as well?

    I refer to “Darwinism” because eventually everything gets down to Darwin’s Law or Principle of Divergence. If you believe that gradual change can accumulate to the point that a novel body-type comes about via RV+NS alone (or variations on the theme), then you’re a Darwinist, no matter how fancy the speculations. By default, you’re “stuck in the 19th Century.” What “modern” proof of this Law of Divergence do you have?

  6. Prof. Moran,

    First, I find it ironic that you criticize James Shapiro for responding to William Dembski at Evolution News and Views, since ID is so unscientific that he should just ignore it. Yet here you are putting one of your own comments in a combox at Uncommondescent! I wonder if you wouldn’t mind explaining the apparent inconsistency between what you preach and what you practice?

    Second, your friend Jerry Coyne insists that Natural Selection continues to be the grand explanation of why everything survives. Perhaps you might direct your criticism of being stuck in the 19th century his way, instead of ours.

  7. 7

    Did this guy Larry just say “IDiots”, wow so brilliant and funny. Wait, doesn’t ID stand for Intelligent Design? Right and isn’t Larry boy a nominally intelligent denialist of intelligence as his producer? So doesn’t it follow that Larry is a product of stupidity? Would it not be then fair to say that Larry is an idiot?

  8. Bilbo I says,

    First, I find it ironic that you criticize James Shapiro for responding to William Dembski at Evolution News and Views, since ID is so unscientific that he should just ignore it. Yet here you are putting one of your own comments in a combox at Uncommondescent! I wonder if you wouldn’t mind explaining the apparent inconsistency between what you preach and what you practice?

    Is it true that you see no difference between posting an article under your own name on a creationist blog and posting a comment? WTF?

    I’d be happy to post comments on Evolution News & Views but, as you know, it doesn’t allow any comments.

    Second, your friend Jerry Coyne insists that Natural Selection continues to be the grand explanation of why everything survives. Perhaps you might direct your criticism of being stuck in the 19th century his way, instead of ours.

    I have criticized Jerry’s adaptationist position on many occasions. I’ve also read his book where he explains non-adaptive evolution. Have you read his book?

    BTW, can you point me to occasions where you have criticized your fellow creationists for getting something wrong?

  9. Prof. Moran: Is it true that you see no difference between posting an article under your own name on a creationist blog and posting a comment? WTF?

    Prof. Shapiro responded first to Dembski’s remarks, then to Douglas Axe’s remarks, if I remember correctly. The difference, is that unlike what Jerry Coyne did — bury Shapiro’s response in the combox — ENV very politely posted Shapiro’s responses as articles. So no, I see no difference.

    I’d be happy to post comments on Evolution News & Views but, as you know, it doesn’t allow any comments.

    I’m willing to bet that if you had a substantive response to one of their articles, they would be more than happy to post it as a separate article.

    I have criticized Jerry’s adaptationist position on many occasions. I’ve also read his book where he explains non-adaptive evolution. Have you read his book?

    No. How big a role to non-adaptive evolution is he willing to give?

    BTW, can you point me to occasions where you have criticized your fellow creationists for getting something wrong?

    Yes, I have often disagreed with posts here that claim that one cannot consistently be a Christian Darwinist. I think Ken Miller argued quite convincingly that one can be in his book, Finding Darwin’s God. Further, I have a post at my own blog for people who were banned from UD because they didn’t answer the “moon” question with a simple “no.”

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