Archive for November, 2010
Critical of The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin in a letter to Hugh Falconer in October 1862, Darwin wrote, “I look at it as absolutely certain that very much in the Origin will be proved to be rubbish; but I expect and hope that the framework will stand.”
Darwin’s conceptual framework of “slight, successive” changes over time had remained intact for 150 years, until the evidence from the human genome project delivered the decisive destruction of the original “framework”.
J. Craig Venter, the microbiologist turned entrepreneur that mapped the human genome and re-produced what he calls “the first synthetic species”, concluded during a 60-Minute CBS interview with Steve Kroft on Sunday, November 21 that the human genome project has been a “bust”. Continue Reading
Charles Darwin, desperate to discover how evolution keeps going, in 1865, sent his good friend, Thomas Huxley, a thirty-page manuscript under the heading “The Hypothesis of Pangenesis.” Huxley’s response must have been discouraging, since Darwin replied, “I do not doubt your judgment is perfectly just and I will persuade myself not to publish. The whole affair is much too speculative.”
Pangenesis extended Aristotle’s concept of “spontaneous generation,” later popularized by French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Still anxious, two years late in 1867 Darwin sent a letter to American scientist, Asa Gray at Harvard University –
The chapter on what I call Pangenesis will be called a mad dream, and I shall be pretty well satisfied if you think it a dream worth publishing; but at the bottom of my own mind I think it contains a great truth.
Charles Darwin envisioned evolution proceeding by an accumulation of changes, “I do believe that natural selection will generally act very slowly, only over long periods of time…. natural selection acts slowly by accumulating slight, successive, favorable variations.”
Over the past 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species, the focus of research has centered on discovering the origin of the variation. Darwin clearly acknowledged ignorance on this subject, our “ignorance of the laws of variation is profound. Not in one case out of a hundred can we pretend to assign any reason why this or that part has varied.”
Now in the aftermath of the gene-centric Modern Synthesis meltdown, evolutionary scientists have been forced to explore new avenues beyond mutations to account for the origin of new and novel variations. At the top of the evolution industry list of potential candidates are self-organizational theories. Continue Reading
I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.
Rather, Darwin called The Origin of Species “one long argument”—not a scientific showcase. Darwin makes this point because he knew what differentiates science from logic.
More than 200 years before the publication of The Origin of Species, English scientist Francis Bacon formalized what is now known as the Scientific Method – the only proven method of scientific inquiry for discovering natural laws.
As a founding member of the Royal Society, Bacon was quoted by Darwin in the preamble of The Origin of Species. The Scientific Method had earlier been used by Copernicus and Galileo overturning the geocentric worldview, and later by Isaac Newton that lead to the discovery of the natural laws of motion and gravity. Continue Reading