Shapiro Buries Naturalism

Posted in Creation/Evolution on July 24th, 2011 by dhawkinsmo

Shapiro is awesome! James Shapiro that is – bacterial geneticist at the University of Chicago. (Note: I’m not praising him because he is a creationist – he’s not) Two of his papers are a must read for anyone questioning naturalism. First, there is his 1997 paper, “A Third Way” – read the whole thing. It’s short and laymen like me can understand it. Secondly his 2010 paper, “Mobile DNA and Evolution in the 21st Century.” Read the conclusion. It’s all you need. Now let me whet your appetite … From “Third Way” …

Localized random mutation, selection operating “one gene at a time” (John Maynard Smith’s formulation), and gradual modification of individual functions are unable to provide satisfactory explanations for the molecular data, no matter how much time for change is assumed. There are simply too many potential degrees of freedom for random variability and too many interconnections to account for.

It has been a surprise to learn how thoroughly cells protect themselves against precisely the kinds of accidental genetic change that, according to conventional theory, are the sources of evolutionary variability.

(3) Mobile Genetic Elements and Natural Genetic Engineering. The second major lesson of molecular studies into the origins of genetic change is that all cells possess multiple biochemical agents for natural genetic engineering–processes that include the cutting and splicing of DNA molecules into new sequence arrangements.

In other words, genetic change can be massive and non-random. Some organisms, such as the ciliated protozooan Oxytricha, completely reorganize their genetic apparatus within a single cell generation, fragmenting the germ-line chromosomes into thousands of pieces and then reassembling a particular subset of them into a distinct kind of functional genome.

The point of this discussion is that our current knowledge of genetic change is fundamentally at variance with neo-Darwinist postulates.  We have progressed from the Constant Genome, subject only to random, localized changes at a more or less constant mutation rate, to the Fluid Genome, subject to episodic, massive and non-random reorganizations capable of producing new functional architectures. Inevitably, such a profound advance in awareness of genetic capabilities will dramatically alter our understanding of the evolutionary process. Nonetheless, neo-Darwinist writers like Dawkins continue to ignore or trivialize the new knowledge and insist on gradualism as the only path for evolutionary change. Read more »