by T.D. Hall, Ph.D.
"[August] Weismann [German
biologist, 1834-1914] was not a botanist.
Like [T.H.] Huxley, his status
is that of a believer; for when we ask him whether the small
random variations in nature are important enough to decide
between the life and death of the creature, he replies with
'Even one who, like myself,
has been for many years a convinced adherent of the
theory of selection, can only reply: We assume so, but
cannot prove it in any case. It is not upon
demonstrative evidence that we champion the doctrine of
selection as scientific truth; we base our arguments on
quite other grounds.'"
In our century, Darwinism has triumphed
as an orthodoxy, as a "rallying point of innumerable scientific,
philosophical, and social movements." Mr. Darwin became the oracle,
as Barzun suggests, and the
Origin of Species the "fixed point with
which Evolution moved the world."
As the quotation which heads this chapter suggests, the central
doctrine in Darwinism - Natural Selection - was understood, even by
adherents, to be lacking in scientific merit.
"No one," said William
Bateson, "can survey the work of recent years without perceiving
that evolutionary orthodoxy developed too fast and that a great deal
has got to come down."
Why did Weismann and other scientists become to-the-death defenders
of a theory that they should have attacked? - as unscientific.
Ignorance is ruled out. By his own confession, Weismann was fully
aware of the inadequacy of Natural Selection as a scientific
The famous Bateson and many others
hurled a few epithets at Darwinism, but they did not succeed in
generating a "reformation" in evolutionary theory, even though a
reformation was clearly needed.
"Natural Selection" for "Providence"
Barzun addressed this question over fifty years ago and came up with
the following possible explanation:
"By substituting Natural Selection
for Providence, the new science could solve a host of riddles
arising in practical life, though by the same exchange the new
science had to become a religion." In contemporary language,
what occurred in the last century was a major "paradigm shift."
The Biblical paradigm was no longer
fully convincing. Ever since the Enlightenment took hold in the mind
of Western humanity, the power of
the Church had waned steadily.
Religion in the nineteenth century was
not the authority (and tyranny) it had been. It had entered into a
pacific old age. Western civilization was ready for a basal paradigm
shift, and the apparent best candidate around for new paradigm was
Darwinism. In actuality, the best candidate for a new paradigm was
Transformism, but this theory was in effect destroyed by the
ridicule of Cuvier and cohorts.
Darwinism wasn't, as Barzun suggests, the great liberator or
anything like that. The liberation of the Western mind from the
dogma of the Church had already been accomplished. What the West was
looking for was a new, trustworthy vision of existence.
In other words, it was simply time for a new "Truth."
"We do less
than justice to the men of the nineteenth century who first did
battle for evolution," Barzun writes, "if we think that it was
altogether for secret or unconscious economic motives that they
clung to Darwinism. A man like Huxley may have been tempted by his
pugnacity and evangelical passion to over-state his conclusions, but
he was neither stupid nor dishonest."
He had the highest kind of
courage, and Calvinistic desire to be chosen for the right reason,
which for him was the possession of truth.
'Science and her
methods,' he declared, 'gave me a resting place independent of
authority and tradition'.
Darwinism, for better or worse, happened
to have become the chief representative of the scientific
alternative to religious dogma.
Compromise - Betrayal of the Integrity of Science
We can understand and appreciate the psychological and practical
necessities motivating Huxley and peers, but at the same time, we
cannot condone the "Weismann compromise" - the promulgation of a
theory as scientific which, in fact, is unsupported by evidence.
Weismann not only promulgated a doctrine (Natural Selection) he knew
to be unsupported, he attacked the Transformism of Lamarck by
Weismann's "final refutation" of Lamarck amounted to nothing more
than this: He cut off the tails of several generations of mice, and
then concluded that if Lamarck had been correct, the progeny would
be without tails. This ridiculous experiment was based upon the
presumption that Weismann was a fully qualified representative of
Lamarckism holds that evolution is a product of
interactivity between organism and environment.
developed by Weismann and other "Neo-Darwinists," came to the
conclusion that the source of evolutionary change is within the
organism (random genetic mutation), not in the environment.
More needs to be said about the Weismann compromise.
As an event, it
represents not simply a case of over-zealousness, but the
continuation of a fateful betrayal of the integrity of science that
began with the Cuvier attack on Lamarck. Giraffes and (other) red
herrings aside, the theory of Lamarck is basically correct.
Evolution is a matter of interactivity between organism and
environment. The membrane of the biological cell, as we know,
contains numerous IMPs (integral membrane proteins), each of which
operates as a frequency receiver/transducer.
The receptor component
of the IMP detects and "captures" a particular frequency item, and
the effector component accomplishes, in one way or another, the
transduction of the item across the membrane barrier. The cell
membrane, therefore, may be likened unto a radio receiver. It is
designed to "pick up" frequencies from the environment.
equivalent of the "broadcast station" is not within the cell, it is
(as we say) in the environment.
in the Realm of DNA
The Neo-Darwinian view that the DNA is origin of all biological
expression simply ignores that possibility that the cellular
membrane has something to do with biological expression.
influence of the environment on the genetic materials is
impossible," Mayr writes.
In the past few years, a number of
research projects have demonstrated specific mechanisms by which
environmental signaling affects the genetic structure directly.
it becomes increasingly obvious that primacy is in the environment
and that physiological primacy is in the cellular membrane and not
the DNA, the orthodoxy is casting about for new ways of defending
the DNA primacy doctrine. One of the more inventive members of the
orthodoxy (Francis Crick) is promoting the hypothesis that the
came from outer space.
If the nucleus and its genetic materials was in fact the origin of
all biological expression, then we would expect that the removal of
the same would cause the death of the cell. When cells are
enucleated (have their nuclei removed), however, they continue to
live and operate - until they simply cannot get along without new
parts. The genes contain blueprints for all new parts.
In contrast, if the IMPs (frequency receivers) in the cellular
membrane are cut, then the cell goes comatose. If the receptors are
not replaced by visceral processes, the cell dies.
There are a dozen other proofs of the physiological primacy of the
cellular membrane. Why is it that the Neo-Darwininsts have so
stubbornly insisted on the primacy of the genes? Why is it that they
still insist on the primary of DNA doctrine? - despite mounting
evidence that the doctrine is incorrect.
The answer to this question lies not in the arena of science per se,
but in the political "environment" of modern biology and
Pardon our repetition in the following paragraphs. The issues
discussed are so critical, we must re-view the underlying
paradigmatic politics from time to time, in the light of our
So, again ... the traditional form of government
in the West is theocratic monarchy.
Western monarchy is an
expression of the Biblical monotheistic paradigm. One God
above, one monarch below. The monarch rules by "divine right."
Who administers the doctrine of divine
right? The Church.
the Old Order
Any threat to the authority of
Church was a threat to the
traditional order - the monarchical system.
and other institutions of religious suppression operated in Europe
for hundred of years. They could not have done so without the
sanction of the kings and queens and without the blessings of the
clergy and nobility.
In modern times, two great challenges to the authority of the
traditional rulers and their guidebook, the Bible, arose. One was
science, which is based on the idea that truth is be found through
direct observation and verified through objective experimentation.
Who do you prefer to trust where the question of (say) the center of
the solar system is concerned? Do you trust the clergy and their
Bible? - or do you trust Galileo and his telescope?
"Cartesianism," the philosophy of Rene Descarte, held that the world
was a gigantic machine. It was not just a stage on which moral
dramas were played out, but a fabulous mechanism, a super-version of
the royal gardens at Versailles. The eyes of Western Humanity began
to turn away from the Bible and the pulpit and the stained-glass
cross... and toward nature.
Along with modern science "natural theology" arose - the second
great challenge to the traditional order. "Deism" and other forms of
natural theology are based on the idea that the Word of God is to be
found in nature rather than in that compilation of ancient
testimonies we call the Holy Bible.
With the American Revolution, Deism became a very active threat to
the "Western way of life." When Jefferson argued that the Colonies
must seek independence, he justified his position by appealing to
"the laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
"Nature's God" is not the
The Americans succeeded, and following their revolution, they
outlawed the institution of "aristocracy." When the French attempted
a revolution of the same sort, however, they were defeated by
coalitions of monarchists and by self-sabotage - by handing over
sovereignty to Napoleon.
If the old order had had a battle cry, it would have been "Deism
must be destroyed!"
Under the Biblical paradigm, the flow of
power (sovereignty) is from God the Source (the ultimate
sovereign) to the king (the temporal sovereign), to the nobility,
who are appointed by the king. Overseer of this "transfer-of-power"
system is the Church. The Deistic vision of existence cuts out
completely royalty, aristocracy and clergy from the power flow. In
the Deistic vision, the flow of power is from God to Nature,
the "Living Scriptures."
Who is next in line?
Those who are
closest to Nature - common people.
Reaction to the Egalitarian Revolution
Science and Deism came together in the work of Jean Baptiste
Lamarck. The evolutionary theory of Lamarck supports the Deistic
vision of existence as an egalitarian affair, rather than the
Biblical vision of life as hierarchical order. The first "new world
order" is egalitarian rather than elitist.
Are we beginning to get the picture?
Science (as represented by
Lamarck and those of his ilk) and Deism were simply not acceptable
to those who ruled Europe in the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries. It was not possible for the elites of Europe
to defeat the new "visions of existence" that were emerging so
powerfully in the West. The only practical recourse these rulers had
was to "own," to control, the new forces as much as possible.
The Transformism of Lamarck was not just the first theory of
evolution, it was the first scientific basis for a new holistic
basal paradigm. Another such basis would not emerge until the "New
Physics" was born in the first decades of the twentieth century.
Transformism was genuinely revolutionary. Had the French Revolution
succeeded, Transformism would be heralded today as the first of the
New Sciences. Instead, Transformism fell (like the revolutionaries
in France) before the onslaught of the reactionaries - the forces of
the old paradigm.
What the reactionaries of Europe in the early nineteenth century
needed was a "science" that saw nature not as "the living word of
God," but as a dark and frightful thing - a menacing reality that
would cause the common people to cry out for protection. As we all
know, political elites happen to be in the protection business.
Classical Darwinism was the means by which the old paradigm elitists
of the middle nineteenth century "took over" science. Darwinism was,
and is, a reactionary pseudo-science. Its most basic premise is that
there is no moral guidance force called "God," there is nothing in
fact to warrant the idea that life has any kind of purpose - divine
or otherwise - whatsoever.
Life is a dark and brutal struggle, and
when we seek scientifically the truth as to the "meaning" of life,
we find no evidence at all of "meaning." Life is without meaning.
Life forms emerge out of haphazard processes, and whether they live
or die is determined by haphazard Natural Selection.
For well over a hundred years, this view
of existence has been recognized as the "official, scientific
truth." It is incorrect.
The Concept of
At the beginning of our century, classical Darwinism had lost its
luster in scientific circles. Where was the evidence for Natural
Selection? There was none. Weismann knew. Others knew.
Natural Selection was an assumption,
nothing more than an hypothesis.
"We are reasoning in a circle,"
Weismann writes, "not giving proofs, and no one who does not
wish to believe in the selection value of the initial stages can
be forced to do so."
At the same time, a challenge to
classical Darwinism arose among the pioneers in genetics.
a Dutch biologist, asserted in 1901 that there were two kinds of
"The random variations previously
observed by Darwin, and what he himself called 'mutations,' or
sizable divergence's from the parent form...."
The work of Bateson (from 1894 and on)
suggested that small random changes (viewed by Darwinists as the
primary means of evolution) "did not accumulate through long ages
and were in fact irrelevant to evolution."
In addition to these challenges to the orthodoxy came publication of
the work of Gregor Mendel, a
Moravian abbot who had completed in the
"some beautifully simple and clear
experiments on the proportions in which the characters of the
common or garden pea are inherited upon crossing."
The new biology was ceasing to be
interested in unprovable hypotheses and turning its attention to the
microscopic world, where,
"invisible determinants did the work of
For the most part, the pioneers of genetics did not view themselves
as elaborating upon Darwinism in any sense. If anything, they tended
to see themselves as establishing a basis for a more scientific
theory of evolution.
The doctrines of Darwinism seemed to crumble, almost visibly. The
idea that evolution is a very slow, minute step by step process, for
"Do the new lights on heredity and
variation," asked Bateson, "make the process of Evolution easier
to understand? On the whole they do,.... An Evolution by
definite steps is more, rather than less easy to imagine that
one proceeding by the accumulation of indefinite and insensible
Early critics of Darwin, especially
Samuel Butler, received apologies, Barzun indicates, and
"biographies of Lamarck took on a eulogistic tone."
Once again, as in the previous century,
the forces of reaction moved into action.... with the result that
classical Darwinism and the new genetics were combined into a new
theory of evolution, one titled "Neo-Darwinism."
The father of Neo-Darwinism is
Underlying Neo-Darwinism is the ingenious thesis of August Weismann
that there is a proof of Darwinism, but the proof is not to be found
in the visible world.... it's to be found in the microscopic world.
The classical Darwinian idea that variation is the result of "the
struggle of existence" is replaced by the idea that variation comes
from a kind of microscopic struggle.
In 1976, this idea was taken
into the land of total absurdity by Richard Dawkins, in
According to Dawkins, writes Niles Eldredge ,
"there are in life but two kinds of
entities: replicators and vehicles.... Genes are replicators,
but they can't exist and operate on their own. Genes need a
vehicle - an organism - to house and nourish them and to
facilitate their replicative functions.
It isn't organisms (the
mere vehicles) that are competing for reproductive success, but
the genes themselves. Organisms as vehicles are simply the
unwitting dupes of their genic components."
What happens to "Natural Selection?"
It is reaffirmed by the new orthodoxy,
but reaffirmed as a means of evolution that no longer operates "in
the clear." Religions and various other misguided institutions have
interfered with the natural course of evolution, and thus it is
necessary for responsible parties to take up the burden of ensuring
the continuance of evolutionary progress - through genetic
Under the new orthodoxy, Natural
Selection is regarded simply as a long-ago reality, and "scientific
selection" is viewed as humankind's best hope for the future.