Denis Noble, one of the leading evolutionary biologists: "Gene-Centric Neo-Darwinism has failed."

The gene-centric view resists new findings and deprecates epigenetic mechanisms



1. Major diseases still plague humanity.

The gene-centric view has failed in one of its major claims, i.e., that it would result, through sequencing genes, in curing the major diseases that plague humanity.

2. Privileging any one level in biological systems cannot be justified.

3. The gene-centric view has damaging consequences.

The gene-centric view has had profoundly damaging (even if not intended) consequences in sociology, economics, politics, and many other areas of the humanities and social sciences.

4. The gene-centric view resists new findings.

The gene-centric view has had to gyrate in a contorted way to accommodate one new finding after another. The final straw for me was a supporter of neo-Darwinism purporting to accept the inheritance of acquired characteristics. This is like eating your own tail.

5. The gene-centric view claims parsimony.

6. The gene-centric view claims to settle the question of Lamarckism.

Part of the reason lies in the way in which Crick's Central Dogma was greeted by neo-Darwinists as welcome and impressive support for the Weismann Barrier idea. The two reinforced each other. The isolation of the germ-line seemed to be confirmed spectacularly by the finding that DNA codes for proteins through the intermediate of RNA, whereas protein sequences do not code for DNA or RNA. This is represented by the shaded downward-pointing arrows below.
 The actual situation is much more complex and has been widely misunderstood.

I wonder what Descartes would think of the modern experiments on cross-species clones. If Descartes, Weismann, and Crick were right, then transferring the nucleus of one species into the fertilized egg cell of another species to replace its removed nucleus should unambiguously lead to an organism that matches the blueprint of the nucleus. So, what do we find? First, they would be shocked to find that for most cross-species clones, the experiment doesn't even work. Usually, the embryonic development freezes at some point. There is therefore an incompatibility between the genetic material of the donor nucleus and the recipient egg cell. Second, in the rare cases where the experiment works, we obtain an organism intermediate between the two species.

The most spectacular example of this kind of experiment comes from work done at the Wuhan Fish Institute in China by Yonghua Sun and his colleagues in 2005 using two different species of fish, where the nucleus of one species was used to replace the nucleus in a fertilized egg cell of the other species. The outcome in the anatomy of the adult that resulted from this cross was determined by the cytoplasmic structures and expression patterns of the egg cells, as well as the transferred DNA. The basic features of structural organization both of cells and of multicellular organisms must have been determined by physical constraints before the relevant genomic information was developed.

7. The gene-centric view claims that epigenetic inheritance is short-lived.

8. The gene-centric view claims genetic change is always random with respect to function.

9. The gene-centric view claims neo-Darwinism is obvious and necessarily true.

10. The gene-centric view appeals to authority.