OK, maybe Darwin, Lysenko, and Lamarck had something right about the inheritance of acquired characteristics, after all:
HALF a century before Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck outlined his own theory of evolution. A cornerstone of this was the idea that characteristics acquired during an individual’s lifetime can be passed on to their offspring. In its day, Lamarck’s theory was generally ignored or lampooned. Then came Darwin, and Gregor Mendel’s discovery of genetics. In recent years, ideas along the lines of Richard Dawkins’s concept of the “selfish gene” have come to dominate discussions about heritability, and with the exception of a brief surge of interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “Lamarckism” has long been consigned to the theory junkyard.
Now all that is changing. No one is arguing that Lamarck got everything right, but over the past decade it has become increasingly clear that environmental factors, such as diet or stress, can have biological consequences that are transmitted to offspring without a single change to gene sequences taking place. In fact, some biologists are already starting to consider this process as routine. However, fully accepting the idea, provocatively dubbed the “new Lamarckism”, would mean a radical rewrite of modern evolutionary theory. Not surprisingly, there are some who see that as heresy. [Emma Young, New Scientist; from Vox Day]
And maybe Ed is now totally confused, since he thinks that Lamarckism is anti-evolutionist.
“Neo-Lamarckism” is not a refutation of Darwin’s theories or even of neo-Darwinism. It is a refutation of the Darwin Gospel superstition, which supposes that Darwin received from the Reason Fairy a perfect revelation describing the origin and development of all life in the universe, and that only the True Evolutionists since then have preached the same consistent message of Truth and Love. The Darwin Prophecies also supposedly foretold the coming of the Anti-Darwins, those False Evolutionists such as Trofim Lysenko and Madison Grant who defied the Vicars of Darwin and spread evolutionary heresy. This is the dogma that some evolutionists seem to adhere to, apparently because they hate the process of scientific inquiry and just want an empirical justification for their personal prejudices and perversions.
Any honest evolutionist knows that it is pointless to exalt Darwin as an expositor of modern evolutionary theory. His original work now has only literary and historical interest. Part of the historical interest lies in the way Darwin’s theories were used rhetorically to support political programs and cultural theories that needed scientific legitimacy in order to overcome their essential immorality.
Most modern biologists are afraid of reenacting the Dark Ages of evolutionary theory, when racial groups were assigned to different “evolutionary stages” and the highest moral good was to “improve the race” by sterilizing or eliminating the “defectives.” Conservatives, paradoxically, want to avoid blaming racists and eugenicists for their decisions; they would rather assign blame to the dead theologian Darwin or elevate his ideas to the status of malign chthonic forces that cloud men’s minds and drive them insane with blood-lust.