Joined: Sep. 2006
Between Cornelius Hunter and AFDave there seems to be a new tactic that appeared that I, personnally, haven't seen over the past year. Using some of the writings of Evo/Devo to counter neo-Darwinism. I'm no evolutionary biologist but there is something in this latest screed that just doesn't smell right.
We know of Cornelius Hunter's assertions with Thylacine/Wolves. The whole argument is about body plans and similarity and a lot of the counter points made have mentioned genetics as the measurements of choice when doing this comparison. (thread link)
Now, at richarddawkins.net, AFDave posted this response to OA ((link) where he presents a chapter from an Evo/Devo book.
Chapter 1: Origination of the Organismal Form: The forgotton cause in evolutionary theory.
Read the chapter, but real quick the outline of the authors argument is thus...
|The modern version of this tenet holds that the continued modification and inheritance of a basic genetic tool kit for the regulation of developmental processes, directed by mechanisms acting at the population level, has generated the panoply of organismal body plans encountered in nature.|
These developments have edged the field farther and farther away from the second initial theme: the origin of organismal form and structure. The question of why and how certain forms appear in organismal evolution addresses not what is being maintained (and quantitatively varied) but rather what is being generated in a qualitative sense.
It is the aim of the present volume to elaborate on this distinction between the origination (innovation) and the diversification (variation) of form by focusing on the plurality of causal factors responsible for the former, relatively neglected aspect, the origination of organismal form. Failure to incorporate this aspect represents one of the major gaps in the canonical theory of evolution, it being quite distinct from the topics with which population genetics or developmental genetics is primarily concerned.
On the surface this seems to be a comprehensive study of what Dr. Hunter has described (in his simpleton fashion) since they also use this "genetics versus morphology" type of assertion.
The authors try to come up with a "new synthesis" around their ideas...
|Elements of a Postgenomic Synthesis|
If, as we suggest, the failure of the current theory of evolution to deal with the problem of origination is the major obstacle to a scientific understanding of organismal form, it is incumbent on us to provide at least a sketch of an alternative view.
In the framework we propose, epigenetic processes—first, the physics of condensed, excitable media represented by primitive cell aggregates and, later, the conditional responses of tissues to each other and to external forces—replace gene sequence variation and gene expression as the primary causal agents in morphological origination. These determinants and their outcomes are considered to have set out the original, morphological templates during the evolution of bodies and organs, and to have remained, to varying extents, effective causal factors in the development of all modern, multicellular organisms (Newman and Müller, 2000).
The view described here emphasizes the distinction between the mechanisms underlying origination and those underlying variation in morphological evolution and hence the necessity to account for that distinction in evolutionary theory. It clearly suggests that the relationship between genotype and phenotype in the earliest metazoans was different from that in their modern counterparts and that the present relationship between genes and form is a derived condition, a product of evolution rather than its precondition.
Although not all contributors to this volume would accept the most radical implications of this view, which challenges major tenets of neo-Darwinism, including its incrementalism, uniformitarianism, and genocentricity, all were invited to participate in this project because their work explicitly influenced the development of the ideas behind it. Readers will evaluate each chapter on its own terms; we hope they will also recognize a coherence that transcends the disciplinary boundaries of the contributors.
What started my alarm bells ringing is the bolded portion. These weasel words are used elsewhere by other less knowledgable people (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Why would this statement appear in an apparent Evo/Devo book?
The first author, Gerd B. Muller, is a PhD in Austria. Click on the publications to get to the book reference above. (overview here)
The second author, Stuart A. Newman, has a long history of publishing with Mr. Muller(historical documents). Dr. Newman also is highly regarded in his field.
(NY Times article with some bio information)
Is Evo/Devo going to be the saviour of the creationist crowd?
Do these authors have ulterior motives that decide their use of language in the book?
Is the constant use of symantics by the likes of AFDave and others confusing the real conclusions laid out by the Evo/Devo researchers?
Will Mary and Douglas break up their stormy relationship and let Jackie reveal to Douglas that he's the father of their love child?
Inquiring minds want to know.