Neo-Darwinism on the ropes

There have been a number of scientific discoveries that challenge the thesis of Neo-Darwinism.1 And many people that I have talked to about Neo-Darwinism are not aware of these significant obstacles to the theory. These problems are not of the sort that can just be dismissed due to theoretical objections like, say, the objection of circularity in a theory. Here is an example of what is meant by a problem of circularity:

Darwin suggested that one of the evidences for common descent was homology—or various characteristics of creatures being homologous (Homology here just means similarity). But then if one defines homology as common descent, you can no longer use it as evidence for common descent.
How do we know that feature B descended from feature A? Because B is homologous to A. How do we know that B is homologous to A? Because B descended from A.

This is not something you want to do in your scientific theory. And yes, this type of circularity is a problem, but the issues being presented in this article are not of that sort.

The significant issues facing Neo-Darwinism are evidentiary in nature; namely, there is empirical evidence indicating the theory is not sufficient to account for what is being observed in science. And in fact, there are a number of very prominent biologists who are rejecting Neo-Darwinism because of these evidences. Here are just a few of them:

James Shapiro – Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Univ. of Chicago
Dennis Noble – Dept. of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics; Univ. of Oxford
Eugene Koonin – Evolutionary Genomics Research Group; NCBI

You can read more about them at this website: These gentlemen (and many others on that website) have openly rejected Neo-Darwinism. It needs to be made clear that they do not endorse creationism or intelligent design due to philosophical objections. But they specifically do reject Neo-Darwinism.

So what are their evidentiary objections? They are at least four in number:

Symbiogenesis: which “refers to the origin of new tissues, organs, organisms—even species—by establishment of longterm or permanent symbiosis.”2

Horizontal DNA transfer: “non-genealogical transmission of genetic material from one organism to another”3

Action of mobile DNA: “DNA sequences that have the ability to change their position within a genome.”4 This is also known as transposable elements.

Epigenetic modifications: “stable, often heritable, changes that influence gene expression that are not mediated by DNA sequence … these epigenetic features can be modified, or erased in response to developmental cues or external and environmental stimuli.”5

The reasoning for these items as problems for Neo-Darwinism is, as they say on the third-way website, because “Neo-Darwinism ignores (these) important rapid evolutionary processes” and that “… some Neo-Darwinists have elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems without a real empirical basis.” Remember that Neo-Darwinism (and Darwinism) is based on gradualism: a slow, continuous change. These four biological features overturn this major tenet.

These issues for Neo-Darwinism are of no small matter. They need to be recognized and understood. And I know of very few people that are even aware of these discoveries, let alone the reasons why they are a challenge to Neo-Darwinism.

But now you know.


Published 2/4/19

Scientific Methods?

Occasionally I’ll have discussions with individuals regarding scientific topics. And given the current state of scientism in the western world, some of these individuals will make an appeal to “the scientific method” as way of solving a particular issue or problem that has come up in the discussion. However, this appeal isn’t as robust as they seem to think that it is. Why? The answer is quite simple. There is more than one “scientific method.”

Here are few examples of scientific methods and their advocates:

  • Eliminative Induction
    This approach to science was promoted by Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Other names for it include the Baconian method, and the inductive method.
    “Bacon’s method … consisted of three main steps: first, a description of facts; second, a tabulation, or classification, of those facts into three categories—instances of the presence of the characteristic under investigation, instances of its absence, or instances of its presence in varying degrees; third, the rejection of whatever appears, in the light of these tables, not to be connected with the phenomenon under investigation and the determination of what is connected with it.”1
  • Deduction from First Principles
    René Descartes (1596-1650) championed this approach. Here is a summary of it:
    1. accept only those ideas that are so clearly and distinctly present to the mind as to be self-evident,
    2. divide difficult problems into simple parts that are manageable,
    3. solve problems by moving in small steps from simple to complex,
    4. survey every part of the reasoning so that nothing is overlooked.2
  • Hypothetico-deductive
    Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) formulated an early version of this method of scientific approach.
    It can be summarized as: “scientists work to come up with hypotheses from which true observational consequences can be deduced”3
  • Falsifiability
    This approach to science was made significant by Karl Popper (1902-1994).
    Essentially it states that “a theory is genuinely scientific only if it is possible in principle to establish that it is false.”4

And lastly, a different approach, is the concept promoted by Paul Feyerabend (1902-1994):

  • Anything Goes
    This particular approach to science has been labeled as rather anarchistic. This is because, in Feyerabend’s mind, there is no such thing as the scientific method. His book Against Method concluded that “there are no useful and exceptionless methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. The history of science is so complex that if we insist on a general methodology which will not inhibit progress the only ‘rule’ it will contain will be the useless suggestion: ‘anything goes’.”5

All of this isn’t to say that science and its methods hasn’t been very successful in providing solutions to various problems. They have been and will continue to do so. Rather, what should be considered when appealing to the “scientific method” is the nature of what is being investigated and the methods being used. Approach matters. Starting assumptions matter. Philosophy of science matters.


Published 10/16/18