Scoop is a New
Zealand-based news source that one would seldom mistake as conservative. For
that reason I find their Top Story for March 4
particularly revealing. Their premise is that just as gatherings in
Woodstock, New York made cultural
waves around the world in the 1960′s, so a series of meetings at
Konrad Lorenz Institute in
Altenberg, Austria this coming July could make waves for the redesign of
evolution theory. the Konrad Lorenz group will be seeking, according to the
article, to give evolution a new foundation by linking it with self-organization
theory. The article admits that Darwinian evolution offers no explanation for
the origin of life in the first place, but the idea that certain physical laws
acting against each other could. Very simply,
self-organization theory says that under conditions where natural forces cannot both rule at
the same time, the mater and energy affected is automatically reorganized into a
higher level of order. An example would be when water is accelerating toward a
drain by gravity and yet the water particles cannot all fit around the drain.
The acceleration is accommodated by the water forming into a rapidly spinning
funnel. A similar explanation can be given for tornadoes, some phenomenon in
space, elsewhere in our common experiences. The concept is not new, and the
difference in complexity between a tornado and the simplest cell is incredibly
large. (A nice scientific explanation of the problem can be found here. If you want to cut to the punch line, see the last two slides.)
Nevertheless, I am not here seeking to debunk the role self-organizing systems
might some day play in the theory of evolution.
What I do want to point out is that in order to justify
such a meeting the author must give some shrift to the shortfalls of current
evolutionary theory–something seldom done in modern media. The author makes the
statement, "Some kind of shift away from the population genetic-centered view of
evolution is afoot." This is huge. It is an acknowledgment that advances in our
understanding of genetics has not precipitated understanding in how things
evolved. could just the opposite be true–we find ourselves being LESS confident
in a purely hereditary explanation?
Below the picture of Alan Love (mentioned for location
purposes only) you find "through the years most biologists outside of
evolutionary biology have mistakenly believed that evolution is natural
selection. A wave of scientists now questions natural selection’s relevance,
though few will publicly admit it. And with such a fundamental struggle
underway, the hurling of slurs such as ‘looney Marxist hangover’, ‘philosopher’
(a scientist who can’t get grants anymore), "crackpot", is hardly surprising."
Again–huge: the admission is not only that natural selection is inadequate, but
that it may need to be abandoned as a central tenant!
Read on. There is more, but I will stop my commentary here.
The point is made: In order for the more "advanced" ideas to be considered, the
short-falls in the old ideas must be allowed the light of day. If we ever expect
our children in science class to advance that science, then why do our textbooks
and public classrooms not tolerate (encourage) looking at both the adequacies
AND INADEQUACIES of evolutionary theory? I think someone is afraid of religion,
and will only allow the word out if they already have another, better,
(atheistic) explanation. Don’t trust the children with open discussion of an
idea that may lead to consideration of a Higher reason for the inadequacies.