Evolutionary Biology

HIGHLIGHTS OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY:
  1. Overview from Frontiers of Knowledge using inputs from Sheldrake, Lipton, Laszlo, and McTaggart
  2. New post below on System Engineering Perspective in evolutionary biology.
  3. Post below on Intelligent Design using information and concepts from a  recent publication by Stephen C. Meyer titled Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. Meyers makes that case that Neo-Darwinian explanations for the natural evolution of life on earth does not hold up when the all of the paleontology discoveries of the last 100 years and recent research findings are critically examined. To read more go below to #2 and to the short blog post click here
  4. Post below on new discoveries related to how proteins  create energy for the cells through process that are, in many ways,  analogous to human power creating devices. Click here to open YouTube animated vidio.
  5. Blog Post on “DNA Wars” to explain role of “Junk DNA.” To access click here
  6. Blog Post on “Improbability of Creating a New Life Form by Random Mutations.” To Access click here
1. Overview from Frontiers of Knowledge for Evolutionary Biology

In Frontiers of Knowledge I use inputs from Sheldrake, Lipton, Laszlo, and McTaggart,(see bibliography below) to formulate five major anomalies in biology that cannot be fitted into the existing biological and evolutionary theories. Two of these are presented below:

  1. Organisms are coherent with the world around them: what happens in the external environment of an organism is reflected in some ways in its internal design. Thanks to this coherence, the organism can evolve in tune with its environment.
  2. There are not enough distinct DNA parts to account for the difference between man and simpler organisms (for examples, worms). Some other mechanism is required.

For anomaly 1, my sources argue that the conventional neo-Darwin view of evolution occurring through random genetic mutations is impossible from a realistic statistical perspective of life. The time to produce a coherent new species from all the available random genetic variations would take much longer than the geological time available on Earth. The requirement for a “coherent” new species to operate more effectively than the old to changing environmental conditions becomes an even more unlikely outcome for the more complex species. There are multiple simultaneous conditions that have to be met: the random mutations have to occur within many cells and organs almost simultaneously for all of the parts of the complex organism to work together in a “better” way for the new environmental conditions. Remember that all of the parts of the complex organism operate as an integrated system. The likelihood of this occurring by chance (from the random mutations of DNA elements) is probably as statistically unlikely as some of the most extreme fine—tuning cases found in cosmology—a one in million billion chance. The influence of the environment on genetics is an active area of scientific research called epigenetics

Lipton and Sheldrake identify the need for something besides DNA to account for the complex biological make-up of large organisms such as man (puzzle 2). The human genome consists of a little more than 25,000 genes; this is only 1,500 more genes than a 1000-cell microscopic worm. Lipton cites studies of protein synthesis that reveal how epigenetic “dials” can create 2,000 or more variations of protein from one gene blueprint. Sheldrake believes that the overall control of an organism’s growth and maintenance resides in a morphogenetic information field. Since a biological organism starts out from the fertilization of a single ovary cell by a sperm cell, the organism must have some means for “reading” its overall blueprint from this field or carry this field in its genetic make-up (DNA).

Key Scientific References Used for the Mind and Brain

  1. Bruce Lipton, Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter (Mountain of Love, 2005).
  2. Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphic Resonance: the Nature of Formative Causation (Park Street Press, 2009); and scientific papers on his website: www.sheldrake.org
  3. Ervin Laszlo, Science and the Akashic Field—Section on “The Puzzles of Biology.”
  4. Lynne McTaggart, The Field: the Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe—chapters 3 and 4: “The Beings of Light” and “The Language of the Cell,” respectively.

 

2. New Post on System Design in Evolutionary Biology [2015.07.07]

In a 2014 research paper titled “Systems Biology as a Research Program for Intelligent Design,” the author, David Snoke of the Univ. of Pittsburgh, writes in his abstract:

“Opponents of the intelligent design (ID) approach to biology have sometimes argued that the ID perspective discourages scientific investigation. To the contrary, it can be argued that the most productive new paradigm in systems biology is actually much more compatible with a belief in the intelligent design of life than with a belief in neo-Darwinian evolution. This new paradigm in system biology, which has arisen in the past ten years or so, analyzes living systems in terms of systems engineering concepts such as design, information processing, optimization, and other explicitly teleological concepts. This new paradigm offers a successful, quantitative, predictive theory for biology. Although the main practitioners of the field attribute the presence of such things to the outworking of natural selection, they cannot avoid using design language and design concepts in their research, and a straightforward look at the field indicates it is really a design approach altogether.”

In the paper, Snoke notes that: “The new systems biology movement did not grow out of the intelligent design (ID) community, however. Its major players have explicitly Darwinist commitments, in the main, and the field has remained relatively uncontroversial, from a political and social standpoint, because almost all the authors in the field attribute the good design to undirected evolution. The degree to which some authors go to remove any reference to a creating designer from the appearance of design is sometimes almost comical as in the following quote: “. . . Biochemistry textbooks describe metabolism as having evolved to be ‘highly integrated’ with the appearance of a ‘coherent design.’

Stokes goes on to describe the two main reason system biology movement has become so prominent:

  1. Biology remains firmly an empirical field, and it increasingly demands a design approach.
  2. There is a long history in biology and medicine of expecting each part of living systems to have a function.

Most biologists still talk about junk DNA (see post on controversy about junk DNA) in which much of an organism’s DNA is not “active” or involved in the organism’s functions. But in the system biology movement, researchers are following where the data leads them, and it is leading them to research and understand the the design aspects of a biological system’s DNA. In this perspective, almost all of the DNA is involved in the organism’s amazing complexity.

Stokes also notes that the intelligent design movement in biology is “tiny,” and that the vast majority of biological research in system biology is being done by thousands of “well-funded researchers and labs.” These researchers don’t acknowledge intelligent design, but the design aspects of complex biological organisms is recognized as a useful and successful paradigm for research. Everything is “kosher” as long as the phrase “intelligent design” is not used.


 

3. New Post on Intelligent Design [2014.08.29]

A recent publication by Stephen C. Meyer titled Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design makes that case that Neo-Darwinian explanations for the natural evolution of life on earth does not hold up when the all of the paleontology discoveries of the last 100 years are critically examined. These discoveries—as explained by Meyer from a broad review of the paleontology literature—show an explosive burst of new animal life within a short window of approximately 6 million years in the Cambrian geographical period. This is often referred to as the “Cambrian Explosion.”

Meyer’s book is very controversial because he is the direction of the Center for Science and Culture (CCS) at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington. CSC describes its program as supporting “research by scientists and other scholars challenging various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory and . . . developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design.” Be clear that CSC does not support the religious creationist view.

I found Meyer’s book to be well researched and measured in it advocacy of intelligent design. Basically, he shows that from an extensive review of the latest literature the emergence of 13 to 16 new life forms in a very short time undermines the Darwinian view on the slow, gradual evolution of life. In the mid-19th century when Darwin wrote On the Origins of Species he was concerned about the Cambrian Explosion. This is the source of Meyer’s main title “Darwin’s Doubt.”

Meyer presents many evolutionary scientists support for his book. Following is one example:

“Darwin’s Doubt is by far the most up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive review of the evidence from all relevant scientific fields that I have encountered in more than forty years of studying the Cambrian explosion . An engaging investigation of the origin of animal life and a compelling case for intelligent design.”

  • Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, senior scientist emeritus (biologist) at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany (Kindle Locations 13518-13522)

Meyer’s provides a dozen more of this type of endorsement for his research and synthesis from biologists, paleontologists, molecular biologists, medical geneticists, and others.

Meyer describes many examples of how intelligent design by engineers in our world works to create new system designs from their “toolkit” of mechanical, electrical, computer and computer software subsystems. Meyer shows how this appears to be the case in evolutionary biology in which a given species uses a particular gene (equivalent to a system component) to create a biology element (e.g., eye) in different ways than how it shows up in another species. Being a system engineer who has worked in many large defense systems directing, organizing and integrating inputs from many engineering design specialist, I could relate to Meyer’s description of how the same genes are used to create different subsystem designs in different species.

Meyer is careful at this time not to get into speculation about the nature or source of the intelligent design. He is not a bible-based creationist.

In my examination of the cosmology anomalies of dark matter, dark energy, and the very fine-tuned nature of our universe, I found a likely role for spiritual intelligence in the “design” of our universe in my book Frontiers of Knowledge: Scientific and Spiritual Sources for a New Era. This view is supported by many spiritual sources, including descriptive accounts in some near-death experiences and in between-lives regression cases. If advanced spiritual beings (souls) were involved in creating our universe, their involvement in the development and evolution of animal life on earth is easy to believe. This is especially the case if other explanations (e.g., neo-Darwinism) cannot explain the recent discoveries.


4. Producing Energy for Muscle Cells [2015.08.21]

Following is a quote from NIH on the scientific work:

“A new study overturns longstanding scientific ideas regarding how energy is distributed within muscles for powering movement. Scientists are reporting the first clear evidence that muscle cells distribute energy primarily by the rapid conduction of electrical charges through a vast, interconnected network of mitochondria — the cell’s “powerhouse” — in a way that resembles the wire grid that distributes power throughout a city. The study offers an unprecedented, detailed look at the distribution system that rapidly provides energy throughout the cell where it is needed for muscle contraction.”

Additional details of the production of the ATP in mitochondria (a cell organelle in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur). Animated videos of the ATP process can be found on the internet: here is one by the Discovery Institute, proponents of intelligent design in biology,

Discovery Institute released a stunning animation of the mechanics of ATP synthase, a biomechanical power generator found in almost all life forms. The video above offers another glimpse of the engineering prowess of molecular “machine” that can accurately be considered nanorobots (or nanobots). Do yourself a favor and view this animation.

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