The whole evolution debate that deforms our politics and social life is itself deformed by the assumption that the only “scientific” defense of evolution assumes that mutations that give the affected species a competitive advantage occur spontaneously, “by accident,” never by the intent of the organism or the species of (perish the thought!) of any agency beyond the organism or species other than sheer chance.
Stated so baldly, it is a little easier to see how ridiculous an assumption this is — particularly among those of us who do not believe in accidents! But there is another view of evolution, one supposedly discredited by official science, that holds that we evolve by intent. Well, isn’t that what we as individuals do all our lives?
For years, I accepted (what little I understood about) science’s view of DNA and RNA. I couldn’t make it make sense. We have this hard-wiring that passes on the genetic code we were born with. Okay, then how do we pass on acquired characteristics? The answer apparently was, “we don’t.” But what sense does that make of the lives we lead? How do you account for the kindred abilities shared by generations in the same family? The Bach family of musicians, for instance.
Only over time did it become clear to me that here we are dealing with a sort of unconscious insistence that life be meaningless, that it have no purpose, that it be strictly accidental. I know where that attitude comes from, too: It’s rooted in the history that made adversaries of science and religion. For generations now it has been unfashionable for scholars or scientists to admit to purpose, lest they admit God in through the mental back door.
This of course is superstition, and mental dishonesty — refusal to follow the facts if the facts seem to lead, or threaten to lead, or might lead, in a direction declared in advance to be off-limits. I submit that such superstition is at the root of all science-worship, known as scientism.
Upon the altar of that superstition have been sacrificed many an explorer who has discovered and recognized inconvenient truths, whether the truths involve homeopathy (as mentioned in a recent post) or the basis of astrology, or anything to do with any form of mental or spiritual awareness involving non-sensory means. Or evolution guided by anything other than the great god Chance.
The following article and comment is from the ORBL News Bulletin, published in email form by James DeMeo, Ph.D., a researcher who publishes material based on the work of 20th-century great Wilhelm Reich. DeMeo’s comments, and the article, follow:
There was a time when advocating the inheritance of acquired characteristics would get you fired from your job in any university biology department. Today, it seems vindicated, at least in some small measure.
The importance of this is staggering, but not developed in the article below. Basically it means, “genes” can be altered by the environment. They are not immutable. And this therefore makes the whole calculus of genetic determinism subject to environmental uncertainties.. or certainties. It also opens up the door to non-genetic mechanisms of heredity, such as bioenergetic phenomenon.
Paul Kammerer was an early experimenter in this area, and one of the teachers of Wilhelm Reich at the University of Vienna. He was accused of fraud, but rejected the accusations which created an immense scandal, and committed suicide. The writer Arthur Koestler wrote an excellent but nearly-forgotten book on this subject years ago — “The Case of the Midwife Toad” — which gathers evidence that it was possibly one of Kammerer’s admiring students who did so, misguided that it would help reinforce his already abundant evidence on this subject.
Today there is indeed all kinds of laboratory evidence that the genes and DNA are not perpetuated in splendid isolation within their protective wrappers of the cell nucleus, but that they jump around, copy from messenger RNA, and otherwise react to environmental changes with patterned development. It gets to the point where the older strictly Darwinian natural selection, with genetic changes only by random mutations triggered by unpredictable events like cosmic rays and such, has been largely abandoned except in textbook definitions.
Kammerer’s own book “The Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics” and that of Koestler, should be required reading for biology students, along with Wilhelm Reich, Louis Kervran, Robert O. Becker, Fritz Popp, Rupert Sheldrake, Frank Brown, Harold Burr, Bjorn Nordenstrom,and other radical naturalists. Hello to them, goodbye to Watson and Crick. J.D.
September 3, 2009
Toad “Fraud” May Have Been Ahead of His Time
Before Charles Darwin, there was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the French naturalist who proposed that an organism could pass to its offspring characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime. The classic example is the idea that giraffes got their long necks by gradually stretching them over successive generations in response to the need to reach food high in the trees. Darwin’s theory-which held, in contrast, that giraffes with the longest necks were more likely to survive and reproduce-eventually won out, though Lamarckism persisted well into the 20th century (particularly in the Soviet Union, where it was revived as Lysenkoism).
One proponent of Lamarckism in the 1920s was Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer, who undertook a series of experiments on amphibians, including the midwife toad. These toads are special because they copulate on land and then the male keeps the eggs out of the water by carrying them around, on land, stuck to his own legs.
By placing the toads in an arid, hot environment, Kammerer induced the toads to mate in the water. Under these conditions, the toads simply deposited the eggs into the water-the male did not carry them-and only a few hatched into tadpoles. But later generations who grew up under normal conditions preferred to copulate in the water, and some males developed a trait called “nuptial pads” on their forelimbs (black spots that are used for gripping females and are common on water-dwelling toads). Kammerer believed that this was evidence that Larmarckian evolution was real.
… <snip> ….
Go to the original link for the rest of the article.