Evolution 2.0 by Perry Marshall

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Evolution, as a concept and theory, for some people contributes to a sense of nihilism. The emergence of human life, for instance, can seem like it is the product of blind mechanical and chance forces devoid of meaning and purpose. Evolution 2.0 identifies some of the ways that evolution is not in fact purely haphazard, with parts of the process being quite purposeful and intelligent.

Modern evolutionary biology suggests that intelligence and thus a degree of consciousness might extend down to the cellular level.  Books like The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins imply some kind of genetic determinism where the organism is the product and tool of its genes in bottom-up and reductionistic fashion. The phenomena discussed in Evolution 2.0 show that this is just one side of the story. Cells can and do, for instance, edit their genetic code in order to promote their own survival, and ability to reproduce. Genes can affect cells, cells can in turn affect genes. It is not a one-way street. A revised view of things that extends intelligence down to the cellular level makes the universe seem like a more welcoming, less hostile place for human beings and one not solely governed by the laws of physics and randomness.

Neo-Darwinism is the “Modern Synthesis” of Darwin’s theory of natural selection with the idea of random genetic mutations; genes having been discovered after Darwin’s time. Unquestionably, there is still widespread lip service paid to Neo-Darwinism. However, there is a growing consensus among practicing biologists, and particularly physiologists, that the Neo-Darwinian doctrine of evolution and speciation driven by random mutation and natural selection is simply not supported by the evidence. The mechanisms of change that have been identified over the past many decades have nothing to do with random mutation. Instead, they point to, in some cases, intelligent, purposeful agency on the part of organisms whereby they, for instance, edit their own genome and rearrange it in order to adapt to life-threatening events in their environments. Barbara McClintock’s ground-breaking research on maize plants editing their genome goes back to the 1940s, though it took years to be accepted. She was initially met by stifled laughter when she presented her findings at a conference. All the experimental evidence suggests that merely random mutations do nothing but degrade the organism and never result in major new useful adaptations or the development of new, functioning organs. The great thing about the actual bases for mutation is that they happen very quickly and can be produced in the laboratory, rather than vague handwaving and invoking very long periods of time. All of the mechanisms Perry Marshall identifies happen instantly, in minutes, or within the space of a year in a laboratory.

The difficulty is that there has been a fight between many scientists and creationists, and education concerning evolutionary biology has suffered as a result. As part of this conflict, Neo-Darwinism, was described as settled and verified science. Creationists, who rejected this view, were thus characterized as being unreasonable. Even less extreme positions that can be covered by the phrase “intelligent design” have been vigorously opposed by those same scientists. Rhetorically, scientists are in a difficult position. Having, for decades, presented Neo-Darwinism as the rational alternative to creationism and intelligent design, if they turn around and admit that Neo-Darwinism is wrong and needs to be revised or rejected, evolutionary biologists have egg on their faces. The supposedly “rational” position turns out not to be right after all. The fact that scientific positions and theories are open to revision in light of new evidence is of course a great virtue. But, the desire to prevail over the competition has, arguably, in this instance, contributed to the miseducation of students. As a result, even biology majors are sometimes unfamiliar with the five drivers of evolutionary change that Marshall identifies – and none of them are in the least bit controversial. These five factors produce more or less instantaneous change in organisms such as hybridization (two different species breeding and producing fertile offspring) and symbiogenesis (two different organisms merging). This explains why there is no record of intermediate evolutionary stages in the fossil record which in fact indicates species popping into existence, and just as quickly disappearing. Stephen Jay Gould names this “punctuated equilibrium.”

Perry Marshall suggests that both the Neo-Darwinists and proponents of intelligent design have it wrong. Intelligent design suggests some outside intelligence governing evolution. Phenomena, to be discussed, such as transposition, where organisms edit their own genome, show that organisms are capable of tremendous intelligence by themselves and do not need an external force in order to self-mutate. A major caveat, however, concerns where the code for DNA comes from, which is one of the greatest mysteries of science. While pushing for continued research to see if the spontaneous development of a code in nature can be found, Marshall has his doubts. Code is information that is coded and then decoded, and Marshall suspects that that might have had to be introduced by a divine creator. Marshall is enthusiastic about trying to find evidence for the spontaneous creation of code in nature because such a discovery would be fantastically useful. He comments that engineers and computer programmers could then use this naturally occurring phenomenon to do their work for them. In saying this, he is partly sincere and partly ironic.

Perry Marshall’s book Evolution 2.0 was written with the aim of bringing the general reader up-to-date with the latest discoveries in biology and does science education a great service in the process. He identifies five drivers of evolutionary change and speciation that scientists have uncovered. In the process, Marshall reveals the substantial gap between what knowledgeable scientists mostly believe and accept, and what the public is told.

Tertullian is reputed to have said, “I believe because it is absurd,” referring to his religious belief. Some fundamentalist Christians have adopted a similar attitude, and see believing in absurdities, such as the idea that the Earth is 4000 years old, as a test of their faith. The more ridiculous the belief, the more admirable the believer for putting aside his doubts in his devotion to God. The equivalent of this absurd belief and test of faith, is the Neo-Darwinian assertion that evolution and speciation is driven by random mutation and natural selection. Only a true devotee of science could believe such a thing.[1]

The random mutation thesis is provokingly implausible. Like Tertullian and the Young Earth Creationists, people are asked to believe something that simply makes no sense. For instance, to go from the bent over stance of our monkey-like ancestors, to the bipedal, upright stance of a homo sapien takes thousands of coordinated physiological alterations that all have to work in concert and which only make sense if the aim is bipedal locomotion. Such an idea bears comparison to waiting for monkeys to type word for word, with the correct punctuation, Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Finding an alternative should come as an emotional relief to those straining to maintain their suspension of disbelief. Imagine the joy of getting to believe in evolution without having to embrace absurdities!

Perry Marshall had been raised a Young Earth creationist who converted to a belief in evolution. However, his training in electrical engineering contradicted the random mutation thesis. Engineers and scientists distinguish between “noise” and “signal.” “Noise,” in this context, means meaningless, random phenomena or data, relative to what you are trying to measure. Signal is meaningful information from which valid conclusions can be reached. For instance, say you are trying to measure how many Americans would like to move to Canada.[2] The data would be noisy if it included every American who simply visits Canada including those with no intention of emigrating. The signal – the people in the data who want to move – would get lost in the noise – the people who are just visiting. The irrelevant data would drown out what is relevant. When the visitors are included in the data, there is too much non-pertinent information with regard to what you want to measure. Marshall uses the phrase “noise destroys” to indicate the deleterious effects of including random changes into any system. Randomness in computing, or eating random items in your apartment, will be destructive, not constructive. Generally speaking, random changes in a complex system are negative, not productive. No useful novel innovations are produced through this method. There is one exception, however, when randomness is judiciously introduced by human intelligence in very specific circumstances. Here, someone is using noise as a tool to produce a specific result. It is not truly random. It is not a haphazard occurrence. An example is intentionally introducing a bit of artificial static into long-distance phone calls. Since modern communication technology divides speech into “packets,” in order to be as efficient as possible, the listener hears a disturbing silence in the pauses and tends to feel like he has been cut off. So, engineers reintroduced some noise (chaos and randomness) into the pauses in signal to make people feel more relaxed. Another example of judiciously introducing randomness into a system might be to flip a coin in order to overcome a decision-making impasse. Again, this is not the same as truly haphazard occurrences.

If it were not true that “noise destroys,” and random changes could be productive, then a computer programmer, for instance, could produce novel programs by introducing random lines of code. When Marshall mentioned this possibility to computer programmers they just looked at him as though he were crazy. Or scratches on a CD would produce new and possibly better music – and so on. If computers were left for millions of years in a room and somehow did not wear out and could continue to function, errors could be expected to occur in the course of this functioning. However, it is entirely predictable that ALL of those errors would be harmful and none at all would lead to the emergence of new capabilities not already installed on the computer. The errors would degrade functioning, never improve it, and no new programs with completely new abilities would arise. If PowerPoint, for instance, were not already on the computer, it would not come about through merely random, and chaotic, changes in the code. If the computers could somehow have computer babies and pass down those errors to their offspring they could be expected to function worse and worse, if at all. I mention this because some students imagine that things would be different if computer babies existed. They would not. The only reason for thinking that random changes in anything can produce good results is because this claim has been falsely stated in the context of evolution so many times. However, mere repetition does not make something true. This notion that randomness could produce significantly beneficial results is unique to the postulate of random mutation producing new species or new useful abilities. The sooner this nonsense is abandoned, the better. There is simply no experimental evidence to contradict the notion that noise destroys.

Most scientific innovation does involve trial and error. This will include some random-like elements and unexpected results. However, the process has a guiding intelligence behind it (the scientist) and useful innovations must be noticed by the scientist and retained. The scientist is not just manipulating any old garbage, closing his eyes and hoping something happens.

Most importantly, there have been sixty years of experiments involving prolonged exposure of Drosophila (fruit flies) to X-rays. Scientists use radiation in order to generate random changes in the genetic code. Theodosius Dobzhansky had conducted these experiments for thirty of the sixty years. These organisms reproduce very quickly, gestating in two weeks – so those thirty years represent six hundred years of evolution. Richard Goldschmidt, who integrated development, genetics and evolution conducted similar experiments on moths. Some mutant fruit flies grew legs where their antennae should be, and some fruit fly mutated populations did reproduce faster, but no new organs or adaptive systems were generated and no new species were created in decades of work.

Mutations generated by radiation never produce major improvements. Instead, there arises the deterioration and the disappearance of some organs.

Mutants which equal the normal fly in vigor are a minority, and mutants that would make  a major improvement of the normal organization in the normal environments are unknown.[3]

The higher the radiation level, the greater the incidence of lethal mutations, though this does not rule out other types of mutation contributing to evolution.

Dobzhansky’s student Francisco Ayala, using modest levels of radiation exposure, did manage to generate radiation-resistant fruit flies.[4] This involved self-adjustments by the fruit flies’ own cellular machinery, not random changes caused by the radiation, just as David Stadler and Richard Moyer found that modest radiation applied to fungus could get the organism’s pre-existing gene repair mechanism to kick in.[5]

When Ayala “warned” the organism with low-dose radiation before the main experiment, the organism would brace itself by switching on its repair systems. When Evelyn Witkin stimulated mutations in bacteria with ultraviolet light she got mutant-resistant bacteria, instead of mutant bacteria. Marshall comments that he has “never found a radiation mutation experiment that definitively produced a useful new feature that was not already there.”[6]

The idea that a cell is the product of chance has been compared to a tornado passing through a junkyard and assembling a fully functioning 747 aeroplane complete with functioning computer systems, flight guidance systems, radar, and miles of wiring.  Human beings are far more complicated than an aeroplane.

Many scientists in public forums seem to like to claim that the existence of life used to be thought of as a mystery, for instance, embodying an elan vital, but that it is no longer.[7] The notion that the problem of the origins of life has been solved or that profound intelligence exhibited even by individual cells is not still puzzling is simply incorrect. One wonders if the scientists are consciously lying or just ignorant. 

Five Non-Random Ways Organisms Evolve

Five different processes have been identified in which evolution takes place in real time, not over millions of years, and they do not involve natural selection. And they certainly have little to do with random mutations.

These processes are:

  • Transposition,
  • Epigenetics,
  • Horizontal gene transfer,
  • Symbiogenesis and
  • Hybridization, also known as Genome Duplication.

These processes tend to be the result of stress, meaning the organism is fighting for its life, and are in many cases the cell intelligently adapting to changes in its environment such as the presence of poisons and attacks from the immune system.

DNA does not determine cell structure and morphology in a one-way bottom up causal process. Cells will modify their DNA in response to the environment in a top down manner.[7]

Transposition

Transposition is a process where a cell edits its DNA in real time in response to threats. If a bacteria is being killed by antibiotics it will snip bits of its own DNA and move them around in order to acquire new functions. This process is not random. It is intelligent and involves educated guesses about what morphological or functional changes that might help the organism fight off the challenge.

Barbara McClintock did experiments with maize in the 1940s where she would intentionally damage the plant’s chromosomes with radiation. By breaking the chromosome, the cell’s editing systems were triggered and the cells would reconstruct the chromosome with other sections of radiation-damaged genetic material. In some cases plants were forced to join broken chromosomes together to reproduce. Due to these alterations each generation created new instabilities. If the plant could not recover the original information it would activate previously latent parts of the maize genome – patching the DNA with a new genetic element.[8] Cells cut and splice their DNA in precise locations and patterns, not randomly. The plants passed these activated transposable elements to their offspring.

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By editing its own genome, cells develop new features that are not the result of random mutations and natural selection. There is variation and adaptation before natural selection can occur. Nearly all bacteria, plant, and animal cells can cut, copy and paste their own genetic information.

Starving protozoans, male and female, mate by fusing together then completely restructure the resulting genome, cutting DNA into 100,000 pieces and rearranging the code. Thousands of simultaneous edits occur in response to heat, shock, pollution, hazardous chemicals, absence of food, presence of food they cannot digest, all in a few hours.

The field of biosemiotics analyze these edits via linguistic analysis. Only certain segments are cut and spliced and only certain arrangements are allowed.

James Shapiro confirmed that bacteria can also transpose elements of DNA in 1968 and McClintock got the Nobel Prize in 1983.[10] Yet transposition is omitted from entry-level biology classes and popular evolution books neglect it. This is evidence of a marked difference between evolution as practiced by biologists and what is fed to the general public.

Epigenetics

Epigenetics is a process where parts of the genome are “greyed out” meaning rendered non-functional in order to change the characteristics of the organism. These changes are then passed down to its offspring. The same sequences of letters are in place, but which letters are visible changes the “sentences.”

Only 10-20% of genes are switched on in any given cell. Genes for eye color are only switched on in the eyes, not in the tongue or liver. If there is too little sugar in the bloodstream, cells respond by changing their code expressions. Rather than removing code that might be useful later, epigenetics is a temporary shutdown of activation in response to external stimuli.

Nature is conservative. It never knows when the old code might be useful again. This might explain why whales have small feet where their legs once were hidden within their torsos.

Rat pups licked by their mothers had a reduction in a specific kind of gene in their hypothalamus enabling them to handle stress better. Thus a physical action of the mother changed the code expression in a specific organ without changing its DNA.[11]

Epigenetic changes were noticed when pregnant mothers who suffered starvation during the Dutch famine of 1944 gave birth to smaller children, who also later had smaller children, who had a tendency to put on weight. Unfortunately, since the starvation was caused by the shortages related to WWII, when the war ended and something like the normal food supply was restored, these children were in increased danger of heart disease, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Epigenetics explains why identical twins can have different allergies, intelligence and inherited diseases.

This fits Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s early nineteenth-century idea that parents can acquire new characteristics as the result of their environmental experiences that can get passed down to their offspring; something Neo-Darwinism once ruled out.

Horizontal gene transfer

Horizontal gene transfer occurs between almost any kind of cell, living or dead. For example, from a bacterium, to a chinchilla (a kind of rodent), to a virus, to a fern plant, to another bacterium and then to another animal. Characteristics that are useful for survival are transferred between organisms in real time.

For instance, in a situation where bacteria are under attack bacteria without a defense will approach other cells, sometimes another kind of cell, alive or dead, with immunity. For instance, it locates a pump that can purge the poison from a cell. The bacterium finds the portion of the DNA that codes for the pump and inserts the code into its own DNA and starts multiplying.[12]

It extends a pilus (a hair-like appendage) into the immune cell, and takes a single strand of the antibiotic resistant plasmid needed for immunity. After the plasmid strand is established in the recipient cell, a complementary strand is synthesized. In this way, new genetic material spreads within an existing population of bacteria in thirty minutes. The bacteria that do not adapt die.

Again, this is evolutionary, purpose-driven change in minutes, not millions of years.

Marshall points out that it is amazing that each cell can function with this amount of novel DNA. It would not be possible to toss large amounts of computer program into another program and still have the computer function – and certainly not better.

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The immune system fights back by obtaining new pieces of DNA to defeat the mutated bacteria. It is constantly searching for the code it needs to fight invaders, and discarding old code that is not needed anymore. The immune system makes predictions about what DNA and antibodies will be successful.

Every one of our cells can edit itself in this way and then transposition refines the results.

Genes are never transferred alone. They are transferred in three part unit-constructs called “expression cassettes;” a promotor, the gene, and a terminator. Computer files do the same thing:

1) Header: Hello, I’ve got something to say. (Header)

2) Message. (Data)

3) End of message. (Footer)

All organisms can share information with each other and all speak the same language.[13]

Mycobacterium smegmatis, related to TB, but harmless to humans, endows each recipient cell in the course of reproduction with a different combination of DNA. And it can generate millions of hybrid bacteria overnight, each one different, with up to 25% of the recipient genome being new donated DNA. Thus, there can be a lot of genetic diversity without sexual reproduction.[14]

If someone were unaware of horizontal gene transfer, one would be likely to imagine a far less teleological and intelligent process whereby vulnerable cells just died, immune cells reproduced and natural selection would leave the immune cells remaining. This is not what actually happens.

Symbiogenesis

Symbiogenesis is a process whereby two different organisms combine creating a new organism. This can occur over a very short period of time. One famous example is lichen. Lichen can grow on rocks in very harsh environments. Lichen is a combination of fungus and algae. The fungus and algae would die in that environment on their own. Instead, they combine in a way that provides nutrients and protection for both.

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There are two other very significant instances of symbiogenesis without which life on the planet would be very different indeed. All plant cells contain blue-green algae originally from the sea. This algae, turned into chloroplasts, is what give plant cells their green color and it enables them to gather energy from the sun via photosynthesis. These chloroplasts have their own DNA which is different from the rest of the plant cell, which is why we know that they originally evolved separately from land plants.[16]

Likewise, animal cells are the product of symbiogenesis. Mitochondria, producing energy for animal cells, were once separate organisms. Again, we know this because mitochondria have their own DNA which differs from the rest of the cell.

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Symbiogenesis has been achieved in the laboratory, by Eugen Thomas in 1939 when he synthesized lichen from fungus and algae, and by Dr. Kwang Jeon who learned how to reliably trigger cell mergers between bacteria and amoeba. The experiment involved thousands of bacteria taking up residence in an Amoeba proteus, thanks to Dr. Jeon’s intervention. A parasitic attack killed almost all of the amoeba. But within a year the two species had entered into symbiosis – each modifying the expression of their genes to support the mutual interdependence. When the scientist separated them out again after the merger, both organisms died. They had become mutually interdependent on each other.

Hybridization (Genome Duplication)

Finally, hybridization occurs when two different species breed and produce offspring. This usually occurs only under stress, when there are too few suitable breeding partners of the same species in an environment.

Most hybrids are infertile. However, occasionally the hybrids are able to reproduce. A notable instance is when two jawless vertebrates mated, producing a jawed fish.

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Hybrids contain double the number of chromosomes of their parents. Having all this extra genetic material means that the new organism has a remarkable genetic library to tap for things like transposition or epigenetics. After a merger, “hybrid dysgenesis” occurs where the cell rearranges its DNA and discards sequences it does not need.[19]

DNA is more like a typewriter to write things with than the master code determining everything else.

Hybridization would explain why there is an absence of intermediate changes in the fossil record. Rather than gradualism, the fossil record indicates the sudden emergence of new species and its sudden disappearance; what Stephen Jay Gould called “punctuated equilibrium.”

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In the plant world, bread wheat is a combination of emmer wheat and goat grass, a noxious weed. Water melons have three genomes and wheat has six genomes.

Conclusion

Evolution 2.0 notes the cell’s capacity to adapt and to generate new features and new species by engineering its own genetics in real time. Thus, intelligence and purpose can be found right down at the cellular level and in plants. Plants have blue/green receptors so they know what color shirt a person is wearing or if someone is standing nearby. When lima bean plants are being eaten by beetles the leaves release chemicals and the flowers produce nectar attracting beetle-eating arthropods. When bacteria are getting ready to attack a person they wait until there are sufficient numbers before launching a simultaneous assault on the immune system. Bioluminescent bacteria all light up at once. Termites intelligently change the shape of their termite mound depending on changes in the weather and climate. Trees note the changes in the length of days and the seasons and use this information to judge when to bloom, when leaves should change, and when to go dormant for the winter.

Philosophers have noted that with the scientific revolution, starting roughly in the sixteenth century, came the mechanistic worldview – thinking of all reality in terms of the metaphor of the machine. Prior to that time scientists had used clockwork machines to model, for instance, the workings of the solar system, without thinking that the universe was actually a machine.

The mechanistic worldview, and its associated materialism, was an innovation that has proved quite scientifically fruitful. However, as many philosophers have noted, there was a high price to be paid for this machine metaphor, namely that purpose, teleology, souls, interiority, and intelligence were banished from the picture of reality. And with those things go morality and meaning. Collections of atoms and molecules have no moral status per se. And if deterministic forces govern all events, all events being the effects of prior physical causes, with the events becoming themselves causes of new events, then agency disappears. Agents are centers of intelligent and purpose-driven decision-making. If determinism were true, then all events would be the result of prior events in mechanistic procession with no centers of anything.

However, machines always have a purpose and they always have a designer. Thus, many scientists from past centuries were Deists – Deists being those who believe that God created the universe, set it in motion by creating the laws of physics among other things, and then left the clockwork universe to run itself, removing Himself from the picture – a kind of compromise between science and religion.

The religious implications of the machine-metaphor have haunted science ever since and scientists have tended to try to counteract them by attempting to eliminate purpose from their analyses and focusing on mechanism. An alternative would be to abandon the machine-metaphor and replace it with an organismic view of things. No designer or exterior purpose would then be needed, perhaps. Cells, plants and animals could have their own purposes and desires – intelligence would then infuse the universe with purposeful change and adaptation. This would tally well with the evidence and there would no longer be any need to deny interior motivations.

Darwin failed to account for the origin of species and added nothing new to the topic. Hybridization was the only method he mentioned and it was known about long before Darwin.

Darwin proposed that species gradually came into existence as the result of natural selection – by analogy with dog breeding and the selective breeding of plants.

However, dog breeding is not a good model for the origin of species because new species are not created in this manner and though great differences can be achieved, there are severe limitations. A dog the size of an ant or an elephant is not possible and no new species of dog have been created. These variations can be described as “micro-evolution,” like the varying size and shape of finches’ beaks, rather than macroevolution – the actual development of new species.

Darwin acknowledged that the lack of intermediate stages in the fossil record was the gravest objection to his theory; now we can identify five active, intelligent, non-gradual mechanisms.

  • Transposition – cells rearranging their DNA,
  • Horizontal Gene Transfer – cells exchanging DNA,
  • Epigenetics – organisms passing acquired characteristics on to their offspring through cells switching DNA sequences on and off,
  • Symbiogenesis – organisms merging together,
  • Gene duplication/hybridization – two species merging to create a third.

Despite using his name, Neo-Darwinists have had to make major modifications to his theory by introducing the notion of speciation resulting from the random mutation of genes via copying errors.

There is nothing random about DNA. Marshall points out that DNA is literally, not figuratively, a code.[21] The definition of a code is information, which is then encoded, then transmitted, received, decoded, and sent as a message signal to its destination. DNA is a formal communication system because it encodes and decodes messages using a system of symbols. Information theory includes “information, transcriptions, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing and proofreading” and all these things apply to biology literally.[22] The field of biosemiotics has arisen as a result.

Since DNA embodies meaningful information it is currently a complete mystery where this information came from. Marshall has set up a ten million dollar prize for anyone who can demonstrate a naturally occurring encoding/decoding system. The system cannot be preprogrammed with any kind of code. This prize has judges that include the top physiologist at Oxford University, Denis Noble, the first person to make a computer model of a human organ, the heart, and whose discoveries made the pacemaker possible, and the top geneticist at Harvard, George Church. The discoverer will be assisted with a legal team to patent his discovery and share in all resulting profits.

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Biology has always posed a problem for the mechanistic approach to science and biologists have always continued to think in terms of purposes – hearts are for pumping blood, eyes for seeing, immune systems for maintaining the health of the organism, etc.

A single-cell produces a wider variety of items than all of human manufacturing – at least up until very recently. All the parts must work together in an incredibly tiny space far beyond the capacities of human engineering. When the cell divides and copies its DNA the process goes through multiple layers of error correction until errors are reduced to almost zero – in a very similar way to computer systems, and cellphone operation. There is error correction built into the communication between your cell phone and the cell tower. This is all teleological, not random.

Now that most practicing biologists have abandoned random mutation as the driver of evolutionary change, it is time to educate the public. Since we ourselves are conscious and intelligent, responding to our environments, seeing that intelligence extends down to the cellular level can be uplifting. It means we are surrounded by beings somewhat like ourselves rather than being caught in some mindless machine stripped of purposes.

[1] Mutation breeding involves exposing plants to radiation and chemicals with the hope of producing mutations useful to humans. However, no new species have been developed using this method, and no new organs resulted. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/28/science/28crop.html

[2] https://conceptually.org/concepts/signal-and-noise – the Canada example is adapted from this article.

[2]a P. 119, Dobzhansky, T. G. (1955) Evolution, Genetics and Man, NY, Wiley.

[3] 1969, Evolution of Fitness v Rate of Evolution of Irradiated Populations of Drosophila, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 63, 790-793.

[4] Induced Repair of Genetic Damage in Neurospora, Genetics, 98, 763-774, 1981.

[5] P. 33.

[6] Sam Harris and his podcast guest, for instance, agreed about this on “Making Sense with Sam Harris.” Jeff Hawkins, a brain scientist, made this claim in the podcast “Artificial Intelligence.”

[7] This phenomenon directly contradicts the anthropomorphic notion of the “selfish gene;” the notion that all life is driven by the gene’s desire to reproduce itself, promoted by Richard Dawkins in the book of the same name.

[8] Pp. 81-82, Evolution 2.0, by Perry Marshall.

[9] P. 87.

[10] P. 85.

[11] P. 116.

[12] P. 95.

[13] Pp. 100-101.

[14] P. 97.

[15] P. 123.

[16] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cell-mergers-evolution-life_b_1807742

[17] P. 126.

[18] P. 139.

[19] P. 135.

[20] P. 138.

[21] A DVD is part of a code. Information is encoded as zeroes and ones on a DVD, a DVD player then decodes the information, which in conjunction with a TV/monitor results in a movie or TV show.

[22] P. 342.

20 thoughts on “Evolution 2.0 by Perry Marshall

      • If you read the Evolution 2.0 and/or my article you will realize that this statement “This is a remarkable study that illuminates a fundamental mechanism responsible for the random mutations that drive evolution and contribute to cancer,” said Bert Vogelstein, M.D., a cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who was not involved in this research” is obviously wrong.

  1. Pingback: Evolution 2.0 by Perry Marshall | Reaction Times

  2. I don’t think you are considering the importance of selection. Mutations without selection produce nothing. Put someone/thing in the room with the computers and select for Powerpoint and you will get it, given enough time.

    • Mutation is primary because there has to be some useful new organ or ability to select. Part of Perry Marshall’s book is about the way in which selection plays a backseat to hybridization, etc. It is logical that horizontal gene transfer will confer a survival benefit because the genes have been selected precisely for that purpose! Getting something useful to select is the hard part.

      Transposition and horizontal gene transfer are intelligently derived mutations of the genome. “Selection” is irrelevant to the process. Except, after the cell’s manipulation of its DNA it gains a survival advantage.

      Sixty years of bombarding Drosophila with radiation, which gestate in 2 weeks, has never given rise to any new organ or useful new ability. There was never anything useful to select.

      Try out your naturally mutating Powerpoint theory on a computer programmer and see what he says! I’ll tell you what. In the hypothetical example I will give you immortality and let you personally select the Powerpoint program when it spontaneously arises. Still ain’t going to happen! Believing it will really is like believing in fairies, or expecting a sandstorm to erect The Empire State Building complete with elevators, electrical systems and plumbing.

    • There is nothing inherently creative about selection. It is simply a culling mechanism, ensuring that the programs most adapted to their environment are the ones that survive. One still needs a creative mechanism to precede the selection. Mutation has been decisively proven not to cut the mustard. Information theorists have mathematically demonstrated that even the evolution of the most simple amino acids by means of random mutation is so unlikely that it would be sensational for even one such event to have occurred in the history of the Earth heretofore (and I’m not a Young Earther). Mutations might cause cancers, because they are examples of degraded growth and all mutation is degradative.

  3. You may well know some of the older commentary of the Epicurean theory of accidental order. Here is a passage from the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth, who is mocking the Epicureans of his day:

    “Infinite atoms of different sizes and figures, devoid of all life and sense, moving fortuitously from eternity in infinite space . . . produced first a confused chaos . . . . After many convolutions and evolutions . . . in which all manner of tricks were tried, and all forms imaginable experimented, they chanced in length of time here to settle, into this form and system of things . . . so that senseless atoms, fortuitously moved, and material chaos, were the first original of all things.” Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678)

    For less highbrow readers, here’s a poem that was printed in many American newspapers at the time of the American Revolution. It was not an anomaly and is part of a widespread counterattack on the theory of accidental order.

    “Atheism Exposed”
     
    Fond Athiest; could a giddy Dance
    Of Atoms, lawless hurl’d;
    Produce so regular, so fair,
    So harmoniz’d a World?
     
    Why does not Arab’s driving Sand,
    The Sport of every Storm,
    A Palace here the Child of Chance,
    Or there a Temple form?
    . . . . . .
     
    A GOD! a GOD! (Creation shouts)
    A GOD; (each insect cries)
    He molded in his Palm the Earth,
    And hung in [sic] on the Skies
    Boston Post Boy (Dec. 21, 1772)

    • That’s great, JMSmith. Very nice. I had had exactly the same thought about the silliness of sand storms spontaneously creating things like palaces. Nice to know someone had a similar reaction to the “giddy Dance.”

  4. It’s ironic to read that article on ‘quantum jitters’, where these experts see the driving force of evolution in the 1 in 10,000 or 100,000 replications that result in error, while apparently completely ignoring the 9,999 or 99,999 successful replications and their associated information and whereby such order and information might be explained.

  5. These discoveries contradict the Darwinian scenario I was taught as a young man, namely that DNA is primary to life. [I no longer believe Darwinism, for various other reasons.] The discoveries show that DNA is not the fundamental driving force of life. The cell uses DNA, including modifying or augmenting it, to achieve outcomes it desires. The cell controls DNA, not vice-versa.

    This is a form of intelligent design. The cell is an agent, and DNA is one of its tools. At least that appears to be the implication of these discoveries.

      • Glad to hear that someone else sees it that way. This shows that strict Darwinian evolution fails on its own terms: It’s undermined by mainstream science.

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