A Third Way?

From: Terry W. Colvin (fortean1@frontiernet.net)
Date: Sat Jul 08 2000 - 19:53:22 MDT

Science Frontiers, No. 129, May-June, 2000, pp. 2-3

In the never-ending, ever-acrimonious "dialog of the deaf" between the
Darwinists and the Creationists, we are perpetually exposed to their
extreme, non-negotiable positions. The Darwinists insist upon their
one-gene/one-protein genome in which random mutations slowly accumulate
and adapt living things to the changing environment. The Creationists
only accept a one-time, supernatural creation of "kinds" plus minor
adaptations ("microevolution").

J.A. Shapiro, a professor at the University of Chicago, is searching for
a "third way," a "scientific", non-Darwinian way. Shapiro maintains that
five decades of genetic and molecular-biology research have transformed
our vision of life. He compares the conceptual changes to those
accompanying the transition from classical physics to relativity and
quantum mechanics. This "new" theory of evolution---his "third" way---
will emerge from the convergence of biology and information science.

Genomes, asserts Shapiro, are not really the static "beads on a string"
envisioned by the Darwinians. Rather, they are fluid and complex.
Genes are now seen as multipurpose elements that turn on and off as
required for the survival and well-being of the organism they belong to.

In this paradigm-eroding paper (referenced below), Shapiro describes
four categories of molecular discoveries that have revised our thinking
about how evolution works: (1) Genome Organization; (2) Cellular-Repair
Capabilities; (3) Mobile Genetic Elements and Natural Genetic Engineering;
and (4) Cellular Information Processing. He then writes:

   The point of this discussion is that our current knowledge of
   genetic change is fundamentally at variance with new-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.

Toward the end, Shapiro approaches, as he logically must, the really
crucial point in the Darwinism-Creationism debate. Is there guiding
intelligence at work in the evolution of life? He cannot answer this
question at this time, and neither can science in general. He puts
his hope for a definitive answer on the fact that we are now "on the
threshold of a new way of thinking about living organisms and their
variations." It is time, he says, for the Darwinists to abandon
their "posture of outraged orthodoxy," to become real scientists,
and to use the new insights we have gained about the workings of the
genome and try to answer this most-fundamental of all the questions
that face science.

(Shapiro, James A.; "A Third Way," Boston "Review", February/March 1997.
Cr. D. Moncrief.)

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA)
< fortean1@frontiernet.net >
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