Thursday, March 09, 2006

 

A Third Way (Boston Review)

[Shapiro, Boston Review, Mar '97]

Introduction:

"The recent reviews in your columns of books by Dennett, Dawkins, and
Behe are testimony to the unflagging interest in controversies about
evolution. Although such purists as Dennett and Dawkins repeatedly
assert that the scientific issues surrounding evolution are basically
solved by conventional neo-Darwinism, the ongoing public fascination
reveals a deeper wisdom. There are far more unresolved questions than
answers about evolutionary processes, and contemporary science
continues to provide us with new conceptual possibilities.

Unfortunately, readers of Boston Review may remain unaware of this
intellectual ferment because the debate about evolution continues to
assume the quality of an abstract and philosophical "dialogue of the
deaf" between Creationists and Darwinists. Although our knowledge of
the molecular details of biological organization is undergoing a
revolutionary expansion, open-minded discussions of the impact of
these discoveries are all too rare. The possibility of a non-
Darwinian, scientific theory of evolution is virtually never
considered. In my comments, then, I propose to sketch some
developments in contemporary life science that suggest shortcomings
in orthodox evolutionary theory and open the door to very different
ways of formulating questions about the evolutionary process. After a
discussion of technical advances in our views about genome
organization and the mechanisms of genetic change, I will focus on a
growing convergence between biology and information science which
offers the potential for scientific investigation of possible
intelligent cellular action in evolution."

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