A – Evolutionary theory

Two strong voices moving against neo-Darwinism

In 2017 two books by renowned biologists came out strongly against the neo-Darwinist synthesis. They both share the positive message of moving towards homeostasis, physiology, and systems biology as complementary to the role of genes. The times they are a changing in evolutionary theory.

The books are Purpose and Desire by Scott Turner (of SUNY Syracuse) and Dance to the Tune of Life by Denis Noble (of Oxford). Both are clear and easy reading. Scott Turner comes down hard: “I have come to believe that there is

The Chemical Side of Evolution

While the winds of change are stirring across evolutionary theory, there is larger, long-term current of change approaching from chemistry. The chemists have a claim that chemical evolution is the real basis of evolution while species evolution is a secondary process (Williams & Frausto da Silva 2006; Williams & Rickaby 2012). At the same time there are many origin-of-life researchers who are studying how prebiotic chemistry could lead to life, and they are making rapid progress. They are effectively studying a chemical evolution that occurred for hundreds of millions of years before the first cell or before any life as we know it. And some of these same researchers see the species concept as a secondary phenomenon to the biosphere as a whole (Smith & Morowitz 2016).

Most of us assume that chemistry is what living organisms use for their lives. This suite of ideas from chemical evolution, biosphere primacy, and prebiotic chemistry sees evolution as a big, changing current driven by energy that gets its chemical energy organized and partitioned by different forms of life. Chemical evolution is seen to be primary, and the evolution of organisms or

Winds of Change

Evolutionary theory is in growing ferment. And few people are paying attention. At least two biologists have shouted from megaphones. Biologist Robert Reid in his 2007 book screamed about the need for a new synthesis. He talked about how many issues across biology at that time that he listed as “[p]ost-Lamarckism, structuralism, complexity theory, the lucky-strike paradigm of neo-catastrophism, evo-devo, and symbiosis studies.” He then went on to warn that: “But their individual adherents, whether modern mutineers or postmodern privateers, lack the resolve to escape the vortex of Darwinism. If they do not all hang together in a new synthesis they will all hang separately, to be scavenged by the Modern Synthesis, stuck in the hold, and forgotten.” (Reid 2007, p. 422).

Another biologist, Scott Turner, in 2017 is equally distraught. He states that: