Genome complexity; epigenetics (Introduction)

by dhw, Thursday, February 14, 2013, 15:09 (1890 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A You tube video of the complexity involved in epigenetic adaptational controls which can lead to inheritable changes. This removes a major tenet of Darwinism that evolution is entirely at random and a chance mechanism that never implies purpose. Organisms can adapt and it may be purposeful most of the time. However, chance mutations do occur and must have some effect although most chance mutations have been found to be deleterious:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=52d5jWK1vdc

Science progress seems to be on God's side.

If the speaker's monotone doesn't send you to sleep, this is stirring stuff! He seems to lay emphasis, though, on environmental stress as a major factor, and in your very helpful summary, David, you also emphasize adaptation. What interests me far more is innovation, and although we have no idea to what extent the two overlap, it seems to me that adaptation is more likely to preserve existing species, whereas innovation obviously leads to new ones. (By species, I don't mean varieties of, say, finch, but different organisms like elephants, eagles, ants, sharks, humans.) The speaker does mention macroevolution, but still talks of it being induced by the environment, which again suggests adaptation. That is why, in my amateur way, I keep pushing the idea that the mechanism for change ... whether adaptation or innovation ... has a built-in inventiveness which enables organisms not only to respond to stress for the sake of survival, but also to invent new organs that will take advantage of new environments. Without innovation, there can be no evolution!

You and I have agreed, David, that random mutations and gradualism are major weaknesses in Darwin's theory, and so I like the speaker's conclusion ... that we now need a theory that will combine Darwinian, Lamarckian and saltational processes. He also mentioned the vitally important element of "cooperation" (so he could have added Margulisian to his list). Well, how about "the intelligent genome"? It fits in with all that we know about evolution, and it appears to fit in with all the latest discoveries concerning genetics and epigenetics. You will quite rightly ask where the intelligence comes from (you always do!), but the focus here is on how evolution works, and that for me is an end in itself.


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