Reductionism on the ropes

Ben W. writes:

It seems that reductiveness doesn’t work very well in biology. As this article shows, the more scientists try to reduce biology to genetics the more complex it becomes and simplicity evades them. In and of themselves, genes now are growing beyond themselves to more and more complexity and the “genetic code” is now less of an explanation than it was a few years ago.

LA replies:

Look like the Ptolemaic model of the solar system breaking down.

The article, which is at an ID publication, but is based on statements from regular scientists, says that whereas the gene researchers thought the Genome project would arrive at an understanding of the genome, it has done the opposite. The genome is vastly more complicated than they thought. For one thing, only 98 percent of genes code for proteins, the rest perform other regulatory functions that for the most part are only dimly understood. I’ve said for a long time that beyond the discrete genes that science can see, there are “meta-programs” that control what the genes actually do, and ultimately these “meta-programs” may be what controls evolution itself.

I would say that the old reductionist “one gene controls one feature” paradigm is finished, and, as a result, the materialist reductionist belief that life evolved by random genetic accidents in individual genes that survived because they produced a feature that helped the organism survive better will become more and more untenable, until the whole Darwinian house comes crumbling down.

April 13

N. writes:

There is more news that is bad for reductionists, and that is epigenetics. Different genes are expressed depending on a combination of factors, including environmental. So the mere existence of a gene in the sequence does not at all imply it will be expressed, it may remain dormant for years, decades, even a lifetime. Or it may be expressed at some point in life, and then silent other times. The combinations in pure arithmetic terms are staggeringly large.

For example, if a girl grows up in a house with her genetic father, she will enter menarche later than a girl growing up without her father—even if there is a stepfather present. Clearly the commencement of menarche is controlled by genes, and obviously the presence or absence of the genetic father is an environmental factor.

So we all are carrying genes that may, or may not, be expressed at some point in our lives for a number of reasons including whom we are closely living with. The complexity of humanity continues to increase rather than decrease.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 11, 2010 11:33 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):