In order to explain the process of human evolution we need first to describe that which we are trying to explain, i.e. what it is that is evolving and which features of this need explaining.
We will find that the adult morphology develops according to very patterned laws. These have the character of an evolving attractor which serves as a template for the phenotype which itself is manifest via a physical toolkit consisting of geometric transformations, least-energy solutions and organised molecular activity. The attractor is able to assimilate exogenous information and respond accordingly, thereby assisting the organism in direct adaptation to the environment and leading to overall harmony in the ecosystem as a whole.
Karl Ernst von Baer (1792 – 1876) noticed several striking patterns in embryological development that are paralleled in evolution though not obviously explained by a random process. Indeed most modern texts will ignore these patterns as being an inconvenience to the ‘elegance and simplicity’ of the neo-Darwinian process.
- General features common to a large group of animals appear earlier in the embryo than do specialized features.
- The development of particular embryonic characters progresses from general to specialized during their ontogeny.
- Each embryo of a given species, instead of passing through the adult stages of other animals, departs more and more from them as ontogeny progresses
- Therefore, the early embryo of a higher animal is never like the adult of a lower animal, only similar to its early embryo.
These patterns noted by Von Baer are to be found in similar although not identical form in three different arenas:
- The fossil record
- Embryonic development
- Morphological complexity of existing species
Compare (below) the theory of recapitulation from Ernst Haekel with those of Von Baer. In Haekel’s view, the young bird develops from an egg stage through a fish stage, an amphibian stage etc. This is discredited according to modern embryologists and Von Baer’s Law prevails where separate species are recognisable after only a few days of fertilisation yet the structure of development is very similar in each case.
The continually changing form of the mature adult is assumed by the neo-Darwinists to be caused by the random mutations of DNA but the development of the embryo is certainly deterministic and based upon physical laws. The question arises then: How or why can two complex and very similar processes arise from completely different mechanisms?
Evolution and embryology must have something in common whether it be a physical mechanism or a purely informational template, perhaps, maintained somewhere and used somehow as a reference.
If we look at a developing foetus and assume that it develops according to a more or less pre-determined process and in accordance with well established biological laws, then why do we look for something different when we observe the evolutionary record?
The Whiteway Colony originated as a commune of simple dwellings but as families grew and economic conditions improved, a new bedroom was added or a kitchen extended and the result was houses like the one shown.
The homes are functional and some attractive but none are comparable to a regency villa and few have more than one storey. They have developed in a piecemeal fashion according to local pressures but with no forward planning or sound foundations. They can therefore can never progress much further than this without a complete demolition and redesign.
What we are seeing here is architectural Darwinism and whatever benefits it has, it does not conform to Von Baer’s laws, where first is built up a strong and versatile foundation of backbone, limbs, cranium etc. from which can develop specialist features such as wings, flippers or opposable thumbs.
Von Baer’s laws have produced robust adaptability for sure but they are not expected from a random process that can at most respond to current pressures and is certainly without foresight or planning capability.
Darwin proposed evolution by increment of phenotype but neo-Darwinists go one step further and want to describe that increment in terms of random mutations of a spiral molecule. This just muddies the waters however and gives us extra things to worry about. It increases the difficulties instead of reducing them.
Describing a living organism in terms of the physical properties of molecules is like explaining the structure of a house in terms of the physical properties of bricks and as Rudolph Steiner rather nicely put it: “You don’t learn much about architecture by studying the physical properties of bricks“.
Punctuated equilibrium. Darwin proposed evolution by small increments to the phenotype (see gradualism below) with a slow divergence followed by natural selection to impose some structure in the population and thereby define the separate species.
This is not what is observed in the fossil record however where we see a process of punctuated equilibrium with new species appearing suddenly out of nowhere followed by a long period of relative stability with no significant drift in phenotype.
Once a new species is established there then follows some variation around an average type. Darwinism posits that variation is the precursor to the development of new species whereas the fossil record shows it to be a ‘decoration’ on an already established species.
According to Darwinism new species arise out of random morphological drift followed by selection from these variations to form a new species. However, what is observed is that the sudden establishment of a new species comes first and only then come the minor variations on that theme.
‘Reversion to breed average’ is a phenomenon known to breeders of pigeons, dogs and cattle whereby certain features can be attained by selective breeding but will only last a couple of generations before reverting to the breed average. Interbreeding with wild species is definitely to be avoided and offending pigeons are risking swift ‘termination’.
Darwin accepted in chapter 1 of On the Origin of Species that: “our varieties certainly do occasionally revert in some of their characters to ancestral forms.”
This is inconsistent with Darwinian evolution which is assumed to arise from a process that is directionless, without purpose and lacking in either foresight or memory.
In chapter 2 he argued that species can’t really be distinguished from varieties anyway. First he proposed that “well marked varieties” are “incipient species”; then he accepted that “species are only strongly marked and permanent varieties.” Then he decided that there is “no infallible criterion by which to distinguish species and well marked varieties.” By the end of the chapter he is confident that “varieties have the same general characters as species, for they cannot be distinguished from species.” – Tom Bethell
What is it that is inherited? The classical illustration of evolution at the top of the page gives the impression that some sort of template representing an adult human form is passed on down through the generations and that maladaptive phenotypes are weeded out via natural selection. This is one of the core ideas of Darwinism and it is emphatically false.
In order to achieve a completed adult form, any organism must pass through many stages of development, with the form at each stage remaining functional and even advantageous, whether within a uterus, egg, chrysalis or as a toddler within Nature itself.
What is inherited then is a complete developmental program from gamete to adult, along with instinctive behavioural patterns appropriate to that stage of development.
As an example, think about a toddler learning to walk. The joints, muscles and bones are accustomed to crawling and are not particularly well designed for walking so they must be reshaped by the toddler himself while they are still pliable. He needs to perceive of the need at around the correct time or it will be too late and needs to embark on a self developmental process that is scary and dangerous. He will no doubt be encouraged and comforted by his mother who therefore takes an active part in shaping the final form of her child.
Again, consider nest building in birds. They never even saw their parents building their own nest so it isn’t learned behaviour and it isn’t even a fixed behavioural pattern as many things can go wrong during construction and the bird will adapt its strategy accordingly to achieve the desired goal.
Cuckoos do not build nests so the skills are not simply emergent properties of ‘being a bird’ nor are they somehow imprinted on the developing chick via some bio-field hosted by the parents.
Injuries of any animal must be repaired which is again a structured sequential process akin to development which results in restoration of age-appropriate morphology. If I lose a fingertip then it will regenerate as an adult fingertip and not progress through embryonic and toddler stages first.
So what is inherited is not just a final form but a lifelong program for self-developing and self-repairing morphology plus a whole set of cognitive strategies that mature at an appropriate time and interact with both the surrounding natural environment and species-specific cultural practices.
And all of this information encoded in 20,000 genes?
D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860-1948) pointed out that the variation in shape of fish bodies, say, or the beaks of birds could be accounted for by simple geometric transformations. The Darwinists will ask us to believe that these precise relations between shapes are nevertheless the result of random mutation and natural selection.
The doctrine of Darwinism encourages us to believe, without explicitly stating it, that almost anything is possible given millions of years of mutation and the appropriate environmental selection. However, in the case of these fish, what we see is a sort of parallel evolution where only a limited class of shapes are selected for and the class members are related via a precise geometric law. This is just not credible from a Darwinian perspective.
If we turn now to neo-Darwinism and evolution via DNA mutations, we find that we have not made things any easier for ourselves and we now have the additional problem of explaining how random alterations of base-pairs can result in precise elongations along specific axes. How does the developmental program ‘know’ in what direction to elongate and how does it maintain that throughout the whole developmental process?
Part of the task of science is to explain natural phenomena in a simple and comprehensible fashion as possible and here we have a choice between:
- Geometric transformation – simple to understand
- Local molecular activity in a noisy Brownian environment (gene expression) entailing precise global and modular geometric transformations – unexplained at present and probably unexplainable even if true.
The laws of physics must be obeyed whatever shape an organism adopts. Wentworth Thompson noted that the physical appearance of many biological forms is dominated almost entirely by physical laws such as a constant-angle spiral or ‘least energy’ shapes arising from the surface tension of cellular walls.
These constructions need no other explanation as to why they are that precise shape as that shape largely arises from the inevitable consequences of natural laws. It is a little inaccurate to say then that the outward form is inherited as it could hardly be anything else and since it cannot vary significantly, it cannot be selected for.
A snail did not have necessarily need to build a shell at all of course but once it started, the choice of shapes was severely limited by geometric restrictions.
Think of these shapes as being part of a fixed physical ‘toolkit’ available to the more general evolutionary process. They do not need to evolve by increment but come packaged as almost completed ‘modules’ in a larger design scheme.
Allometry is the study of the relationship between, and regulation of, the scaling of various body parts during development.
In the chart above we see the relationship between the body size of the fiddler crab and the size of the larger claw during development. As the crab grows there is a clear and consistent relationship which is obtained by carefully controlling the rate of growth of the claw.
This, of itself, is interesting as it means that the growth rate is independent not only of the shape template but also of the physical composition of the claw. It isn’t just a case of putting the right chemicals together and a crab miraculously emerges after a few weeks, but that the chemical reactions are somehow carefully regulated by some other (inherited) process.
Moreover, this control system applies to the whole claw and only to that claw. It seems unlikely then that this is controlled only by local information such as DNA but rather that there is some sort of morphological field that spans a whole claw and that another global field exists to manage a series of separate modules that go to make up the organism as a whole.
This arrangement makes sense in explaining the usual (or unusual!) symmetrical structure of organisms. A combination of modular management with geometric transformation (mirror reversal) is an easy way to visualise this.
Again, try to imagine how this could be achieved by a small molecule that is:
- Assumed to be identical in each cell of the body
- Actually quite unstable and permanently changing
Features in Darwinism arise out of a necessity, a need to meet some selective advantage, but where is the advantage is such a precise symmetry in outward form when an approximate symmetry would suffice?
Gene expression is the conventional way of explaining evolution, development, morphology and pretty much everything else, so geneticists need to provide a coherent description of how molecular activity somehow organises a final form and they then need to provide some evidence that this is what actually happens.
Unfortunately: “Among the more surprising and, perhaps, counterintuitive (from a neo-Darwinian viewpoint) results of recent research in evolutionary developmental biology is that the diversity of body plans and morphology in organisms across many phyla are not necessarily reflected in diversity at the level of the sequences of genes, including those of the developmental genetic toolkit and other genes involved in development. Indeed, [..] there is an apparent paradox: Where we most expect to find variation, we find conservation, a lack of change“.(Gerhart et al)
(Even the genes involved in development aren’t really involved in development.)
“So, if the observed morphological novelty between different clades does not come from changes in gene sequences (such as by mutation), , where does it come from? Novelty may arise by mutation-driven changes in gene regulation.” Wikipedia
Mice who given electric shocks when they were smelling cherry blossom soon became fearful at the smell even when no shock was given. These mice went on to bear children who were also afraid of the same smell. A ‘characteristic’ has been acquired and passed down to the next generation in Lamarckian fashion. [Dias et al]
We have an example then (there are many others) of the inheritance, not of outward form but of a cognitive pattern (instinctive behaviour) resulting in a measurably altered chemical regulation. There are an arbitrarily large number of cognitive processes available so it seems very unlikely that these could all be represented as digital information on a finite sized chunk of DNA; some other storage format is required.
“Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is the transmission [..of..] modifications from one generation to multiple subsequent generations without altering the primary structure of DNA.” (Wikipedia ) Methods include “self-sustaining metabolic loops” and “structural templating“
It is of note that cognitive recognition takes place in neural network activity in the brain where electric currents form self-sustaining loops. Also of note is the fact that emotional states such as fear are accompanied again by metabolic network activity.
Telegony: In one experiment, male flies were fed nutritious diets and acquired a larger body size than average. They were mated with immature female flies (no eggs yet) who then went on to have larger than average children even from subsequent smaller partners. Genetic information had been retained and inherited even though no physical substance had been exchanged.
Pigeon breeders are again quite strict with any female caught mating with a wild male for this specific reason. Her breeding value has been permanently compromised and she is now a liability to the flock.
Epigenetic inheritance is common from the female line as information is funnelled down into the ova where it can easily be passed down to the next generation but here we have information from a male passed on with no exchange of DNA.
The information must be held in some informational ‘field’, a self-sustaining loop of energetic activity that can be transferred to the female uterosome where it can install itself as an attractor state hosted by molecular network activity.
The common thread linking all these types of inheritance and evolutionary changes consists of meaningful loops of dynamic network activity that form semi-stable attractor states. These packets of information evolve over time, providing variety of form, and can be transferred from parent (male or female) to children.
The fossil record shows a body type stable over many millennia that is subject to sudden changes. This, and the phenomenon of reversion to mean are immediately suggestive of a chaotic attractor. We can therefore conceptualise this as a morphogenetic template that evolves slowly over time but occasionally demonstrates a sudden phase change resulting in a new species.
The template is not actually for a static adult form however but for a complete developmental program including body shape, inherited behaviour and all manner of metabolic and molecular regulation,
The creation of a living being works by expression of this template via physical matter. This expression will use the laws of physics to its own advantage along with various ‘toolkits’ including ‘least energy’ laws and geometric transformations.
(Note in the following diagram that DNA, being comprised of matter, is at the conceptual bottom of the causal chain – not the top!)
This information is likely to be of a fractal or holographic nature, meaning that every part of the informational field will contain sufficient information to reproduce the entire organism.
Sexual reproduction consists of the confluence of two such informational fields and Keith Baverstock gives the example of a merger of two manufacturing companies producing similar products. The staff are all autonomous and know their jobs well so not much more is needed than to put them together in a big factory with familiar equipment (physical matter) and let them get on with it.
Asexual reproduction simply consists of a splitting of the physical form and a corresponding splitting of the evolutionary field. The splitting is neither here nor there as the field is fractal in nature and both halves will contain all of the information needed to reproduce an entire organism.
Perhaps imagine a whirlpool in a river which grows in size as it accumulates energy, even absorbing other smaller eddies. The shape is preserved yet evolving and when the vortex gets too big it can easily spawn smaller ‘children’ which will repeat the cycle. The vortex is robust to quite large disturbances but can change suddenly and unpredictably; it is an attractor.
The human cognitive system is assumed to be hosted in active neural networks within the brain and so again has the aspect of a self-sustaining attractor.
Information entering via the senses is therefore converted to a neural network format and in the case of mice and cherry blossom this information is further downscaled to a molecular attractor in the gametes and passed on to the next generation.
Information from the environment is funnelled down through an interpretive cognitive system to integrate with the main fractal-like attractor of the organism and persists throughout the generations as a part of the evolutionary line for the species.
The future of humanity according to Darwinism is decidedly bleak, as with the removal of selective pressure we are condemned by genetic drift to accumulate small maladaptive mutations and wander aimlessly into a second rate species.
Darwinism lends support to, and apparent moral justification for, selective breeding and eugenics and no good can come of that. According to this doctrine we have no active participation in our own directionless evolution and must rely upon random chance followed by ruthless pruning of the evolutionary tree to make progress as a species. Darwinism is non-reversible and a rudderless ship is in a bad way.
The Evolutionary Attractor hypothesis presents completely different options.
Evolution is largely by the unfolding of the attractor state and is deterministic although unpredictable. If we ‘do nothing’ we will be stable for some more generations before a sudden phase change causes us to morph into a new species. This may happen with very little warning and in a way that is beyond our comprehension.
Robert O Becker noted that almost all species have arisen at specific points in history when there was a significant change in geo-magnetic conditions. Changes in the Earth’s magnetic field led to sudden phase shifts in the attractor state across all species on Earth.
Selective breeding usually induces only temporary variation of morphology before reversion to wild-type.
We can actively participate in our own cultural and conscious evolution however with the inheritance of cognitive recognition, behavioural patterns and emotional responses.
Adverse responses to drugs or vaccines can also be inherited although it isn’t clear whether the changes are permanent or not. Exposure to WiFi radiation can cause altered gene expression which is again inheritable, possibly inducing a permanent change to the evolutionary genome.
The ship in this case is not rudderless by any means but is steered in part by a continual influx of information into our cognitive systems which helps tune us to our environment. It follows therefore that we should take particular care over the nature of that information.
The gene: an appraisal – Keith Baverstock
“An analysis of the results of the Long-Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE) with E. coli bacteria, grown over 60,000 generations, does not support spontaneous gene mutation as the source of variance for natural selection. “
The gene: an appraisal – Keith Baverstock
“An analysis of the results of the Long-Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE) with E. coli bacteria, grown over 60,000 generations, does not support spontaneous gene mutation as the source of variance for natural selection. “https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33979646/
Von Baer’s law for the ages: lost and found principles of developmental evolution – Arhat Abzhanov
Parental olfactory experience influences behaviour and neural structure in subsequent generations – Dias, Ressier
“Within a taxon, most animals share a common body plan (or “bauplan” — German for ‘blueprint” or “builder’s plan”) that comprises a certain number of body parts arranged in a particular way”
“Consequently, the evolution of morphology is arguably the evolution of static allometry, which is in turn a consequence of changes in ontogenetic allometry “
Allometry: The study of biological scaling – Alexander W. Shingleton
Von Baer’s law – Encyclopedia.com
“Mutations that alter early development are usually lethal because they can introduce drastic changes to subsequent development.“
Cells, Embryos and Evolution. – Gerhart, John; Kirschner, Marc (1997). Blackwell Science. ISBN 978-0-86542-574-3.
“So, if the observed morphological novelty between different clades does not come from changes in gene sequences (such as by mutation), where does it come from? Novelty may arise by mutation-driven changes in gene regulation.“
Evolutionary developmental biology – Wikipedia
“Evolutionary innovation may sometimes begin in Lamarkian style with epigenetic alterations of gene regulation or phenotype generation, subsequently consolidated by changes at the gene level.“
Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance – Wikipedia
Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is the transmission of epigenetic markers and modifications from one generation to multiple subsequent generations without altering the primary structure of DNA. Thus, the regulation of genes via epigenetic mechanisms can be heritable; the amount of transcripts and proteins produced can be altered by inherited epigenetic changes
Genetic assimilation – Wikipedia
Conrad Waddington “supposed that the organism’s genetics evolved to ensure that development proceeded in a certain way regardless of normal environmental variations.”
“A long time ago, we assumed that to make a creature as wonderful and attractive as a human being would take millions of different genes, but in fact, we now know that there are about 32000 – far fewer than we expected. That is not much genetic information for evolution to work with.”
“Even more annoying is to find that around 99% of our genome is what is called ‘junk DNA’, which we got from parasites, repeats, and a lot of it does not work.” – Steve jones
“Evolutionists and geneticists still have a slightly uneasy relationship; there are still arguments about big mutations versus small mutations, how often mutations happen, and why is the mutation rate so low – around 1 in a million. But we know that nearly all mutations are repaired. The question here is – why doesn’t it fix all mutations? We do not know.
Natural Limits to Variation, or Reversion to the Mean: Is Evolution Just Extrapolation by Another Name?
“In spite of intensive and long continued efforts, breeders have failed to give the world blue roses and black tulips. A bluish purple and a deep bronze in the tulip are the limits reached. True blue and jet black have proved impossible. ” – [J. Huxley, Evolution: the Modern Synthesis, London, Allen and Unwin, 1942, p. 519]