This page is mostly a summary of chapter 4 “Epigenetics and generative dynamics” of Mae-Wan Ho’s book “Meaning of Life & the Universe: Transforming”.
The core ideas of neo-Darwinism and evolution by random mutation and natural selection are dismissed and a new theory put forward whereby ‘information’ from the environment passes through the cognitive system and down to the cellular level where it can be passed on to the next generation.
“The intrinsic dynamics of developmental processes is the source of non-random variations that directs evolutionary change in the face of new environmental challenges; and the resulting evolutionary novelties are reinforced in successive generations through epigenetic mechanisms, independently of natural selection.”
So evolution is not ‘bottom up’, but ‘top down’. That is to say, we don’t have small changes at the subcellular level which ‘bubble up’ to form new phenotypes but instead have environmental changes which ‘trickle down’ to sub-cellular level where they can be passed on to the next generation.
Neo-Darwinism predicts a continual slow change in phenotype as DNA mutates a bit at a time and unsuitable outcomes are trimmed by natural selection.
The fossil record however, shows largely stable populations with the occasional sudden change in phenotype.
This is accounted for by the non-linear dynamics of epigenetic processes whereby a continuously changing environment can produce an abrupt phenotypic change.
Darwinism predicts changes occurring within individuals which gradually spread throughout the population, causing diversity followed by trimming and the eventual emergence of a new species.
The fluid genome theory predicts that since all members of a population are subject to the same environmental stresses, they will all evolve at the same time and only after the conditions have stabilised will we see variations on the basic species.
“Heredity is distributed over the entire web of organism-environment interrelationships from the social and ecological to the genetic and epigenetic”
“The organism participates in shaping its own development and evolutionary future.”
- Macroevolution of form and function is ‘decoupled’ from the microevolution of gene sequences; there is no simple mapping from gene to phenotype
- Useful genetic mutations are not produced at random. Instead the same non-random gene sequences are repeatedly produced by external stimuli.
- The intrinsic dynamic structure of the epigenetic system is the source of non-random variations
- Information flows from top down and from the cytoplasm to the genes – the opposite way to that of the Central Dogma
One example cited is that of mother rats who groom their babies by licking their fur. The behaviour is inherited by their offspring and the children of mothers who do not exhibit this behaviour will not instinctively groom their own kittens.
However if the child of a non-grooming mother is fostered by a groomer, the behaviour is adopted, inherited and passed on to the next generation; the foster child has to some extent become the biological child.
E.coli with defective lacZ genes were unable to process lactose until starved and presented with lactose, whereupon they started to undergo genetic mutations and soon were able to process lactose again.
The rapidity of the process is proof that the mutations were not random, they were directed towards the purpose of processing lactose.
Mutations were passed on to the next generation of bacteria.
- Natural selection plays little or no role in evolution especially in the evolution of major novelties
- Epigenetic novelties are common to all individuals in a population – evolution happens to everybody at once and not to a few select individuals
- Fluidity of the genome means that environment and organism are inseparable. Hence no variant is random with respect to the environment
- Physical and chemical forces that generate biological patterns are independent of natural selection and require their own explanation
- Morphogenesis is probably due to electrodynamic forces not ‘hox’ genes
Human genome project
“Ten years after the announcement of the human genome sequence, it has brought little progress in understanding life, health or disease” [link]
“Herculean efforts to locate the genes responsible for common diseases yielded next to nothing”
“The ‘fluid genome’ has been known since the early 1980s which predictably makes identifying genes for common diseases well nigh impossible. Genome-wide scans using state of the art technologies on extensive databases have failed to find a single gene for intelligence, instead, environment and material effects may account for most, if not all, correlation between relatives, while identical twins diverge genetically and epigenetically throughout life.”
Genetically Modified Organisms
These are given a separate chapter in the book and given the notes above it is easy to understand why GMOs are described as ‘intrinsically bad’.
The cell would normally develop as an harmonised whole but gene ‘editing’ forces an unnatural order on the cell leaving the DNA and epigenetic factors ‘out of tune’ with each other with unpredictable and often dangerous results.
Once again mainstream science has got it wrong and once again they have confused cause and effect; genes are not the start point of evolution but in a way, the end point. In reality though, cause and effect here are blurred and the whole of an individual organism and indeed the entire population act as a single interlinked whole from planetary scale down to the sub-cellular level.
The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology reflects the unspoken dogma of much of science which regards the whole as the sum of its parts and neglects the fact that actually the parts themselves are meaningfully influenced by the whole.
There is such a thing as ‘nature’ and a ‘natural order’ and descriptions of biology without this acknowledgement are at best incomplete as attempts to maintain a ‘neutral’ stance will actually introduce a considerable bias into the conceptual framework.
“There is no privileged level of causation in biological systems” – Denis Noble.
“Meaning of Life & the Universe: Transforming” – Mae-Wan Ho
ISBN-10. 981310886X ; ISBN-13. 978-9813108868
Ten Years of the Human Genome
Beyond neo-Darwinism – an epigenetic approach to evolution
A theory of biological relativity: no privileged level of causation – Denis Noble
Regulation of newly evolved enzymes. I. Selection of a novel lactase regulated by lactose in Escherichia coli – PMID: 4598756 – B.G. Hall, D.L. Hartl