Thursday, June 27, 2013

Epigenetics - a bump in the road for Darwinian Evolution

Click this link of Dr. Eva Jablonka
Now this kind of thing is resisted because it is felt that this is going against the prevailing view of evolution, where natural selection is the only factor that is shaping adaptation.  If you introduce epigenetic inheritance, and the inducible aspects of epigenetic inheritance into evolutionary theory, it looks like Lamarckian inheritance – it looks like you have the inheritance of a quiet epigenetic variation, which are or can be sometimes a specific response to the environment.


  1. Epigenetics is a new field, but it doesn't disprove the concept of evolution, but explains how external stresses can cause changes in phenotypes.
    In Bereishit, we are told the animal kingdom was produced on the 6th day, as was humankind. This does not contradict evolutionary theory or ideas.
    The Torah is about evolution, whether we agree with it or not.

  2. Evolution by mutation is mathematically impossible. The same vanishingly small probabilities that are supposed to have happened in evolution are used in thermodynamics where there is a finite possibility that all the oxygen molecules in the room should move in the same direction simultaneously and people in the room would be starved for air. This is totally discounted by the enormous probability against it.

    Evolutionists have abandoned the concept of incremental development since the fossile record (which in itself is a very poor record with inversions where more advanced beings appear first) shows extreme gaps in advancement from one layer to another. This is to the point that they now believe in punk eek - i.e. punctuated equilibrium which means sudden jumps in the evolutionary chain with no basis at all. Things like sudden wings or eyes which don't exhibit an incremental path.

    There are multi level dependencies that have no logical explanation for developing such as bee and plant dependency. How did they synchronize since one can't live without the other. Explain the evolution of single cell reproduction to male and female reproduction. There are triple level and higher dependencies also found.

    Watch this video to see how the woodpecker defies evolution

    All in all, evolution is an embarrassment as a scientific theory and G-d doesn't need any help in developing life in this wondrous world.

    1. evolution is easiest seen in bacteria developing resistences against antibiotics.

      at the beginning, just a few bacteria carry a gene mutation that makes them resistent to an antibiotic. Since the antibiotic kills the rest of the population, the only survivors are carriers of the mutation. They will reproduce in turn, and form resistent populations.

      Same goes for humans with different carotene repartition in the epithelium thriving in latitudes were sun protection is less relevant than vitamin D absorption.

      That environmental stress can cause gene mutations has been known for a long time. Why do you think are we so afraid of radio-activity? Precisely because it causes gene mutations.

      By the way: eastern european secret services loved torturing dissendents by exposing their reproductive organs to radiation.

  3. why is epigenetics a bump? i would think the opposite.

    1. The Genetic versus the Epigenetic Paradigm

      History has the habit of creating heroes and anti-heroes, and so Darwin triumphed while Lamarck bore the brunt of ridicule and obscurity. The reason is that the theories of the two men are logically diametrically opposed. Darwin's theory is natural selection, and selection entails a separation of the organism from its environment. The organism is thus conceptually closed off from its experience, leading logically to Weismann's barrier and the central dogma of the genetic paradigm, which is reductionistic in intent and in actuality. Lamarck's theory, on the other hand, is of transformation arising from the organism's own experience of the environment. It requires a
      It is a bump for Darwinian Evolution

      conception of the organism as open to the environment - which it actually is - and invites us to examine the dynamics of transformation, as well as mechanisms whereby the transformation could become 'internalized'. Hence it leads logically to the epigenetic approach, which embraces the same holistic, systems thinking that Lamarck exemplifies.

    2. Yes, many kofrim (atheists) believe in Darwinian evolution with emunah shleimoh, and when challenged, they become very emotional and irrational.
      The Theory of evolution is still a theory, although they do claim that species evolved into different ones.
      Epigenetics might have a machlokes on the process of the changes,but it does not deny that there were changes in species.
      I once met one of Darwin's great grandsons, and he apparently had good yichus.

    3. The Theory of evolution is still a theory, although they do claim that species evolved into different ones.

      The theory of gravity is still a theory too. I don't see people lining up to jump off buildings.

      The simple fact is that evolution has been observed in a group of birds known as "Darwin's Finches".

    4. the case you bring of Finches and beaks is not inter-species evolution, it is natural variation within a species.

      Show evidence of a species jump.

      Gravity is not considered a theory anymore, but a law of physics - there is a difference.

    5. Actually it is inter-species evolution, as they become different species incapable of breeding with their parent species.

      I believe the word you are actually looking for is inter-genus evolution.

  4. Remark: Please, please get your biology right.
    Most types of environmental stress do not CAUSE mutations. As you stated in the example of bacteria, the antibiotic does not cause the mutation. Rather, it gives a growth advantage (selective pressure) to cells carrying a pre-existing mutation.
    Radiation DOES CAUSE mutations, but not because it is a form of "environmental stress". Rather, ionizing radiation induces chemical changes within the cell that can change the DNA sequence, or -in other words- induce a mutation. These mutations are passed to the next generation only if they occur in germ cells in the gonads.
    (A main problem with classical theories of evolution is understanding how natural selection can result in gain-of-function that requires multiple mutations, where each mutation alone does not confer a survival advantage..but i digress).
    Discussions such as this provide the strongest argument why everyone should be taught a core curriculum-- there is no way to have an intelligent discussion on any topic if people do not have a basic understanding of how the world works.

    1. While the term "environmental stress" is certainly fuzzy, there are a lot of mutagens in the environment besides radiation.

      For a list, see Wikpedia's "Mutagens" article, but polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds, many metals, reactive oxygen species are on it.

    2. Yoel B.: Of course radiation is not the only mutagen. My point was that one needs to distinguish between (environmental) sources of selective pressure that select for preexisting mutations, versus mutagens, which increase the rate at which random mutations occur.

  5. there are plenty of bones and fossils of creatures now extinct, whether dinosaurs from millions of years ago, or mammoths from 10,000 years ago.
    My belief is that they were created by the Boreh Olam - for what reason, I do not know. How - again, I do not know. To deny their existence is just plain silly. Wait till they bring back to life a mammoth, from its DNA...

  6. Are there definitive tests now to resolve the technical issues of adaptation vs. natural selection in specific cases? Or is there enough wiggle room so that the argument can't be resolved by today's science?

  7. Epi-genetics explains why Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews physically resemble the Gentiles whom they have lived with for centuries more than each other but genetically resemble each other more than the Gentiles whom they have lived with for centuries.

    I'm always amazed how Persian Jews look Persian.

  8. It would seem that epigenetics takes some of the randomness out of evolution. Might be the greatest thing that happened to the theory.


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