Lamarckism and Darwinism

Current progress in epigenetics makes some reconsider Lamarckism, the pre-Darwinian view that organisms can pass on characteristics acquired during lifetime to their offspring (also known as heritability of acquired characteristics or soft inheritance). In this narrow definition, then epigenetics can indeed be interpreted as proof of Lamarckism, just as certain biologic adaptations are interpreted as proof of Darwinian Evolution.

Both Lamarckism and Darwinian Evolution are only early thoughts that add nothing to current biological studies in the same way Democritus’s Atomic Hypothesis adds nothing to modern physics. Biology has progressed over the last 200 years without any need of Lamarck’s hypothesis and 150 years without a need for Darwin’s theory because these are “just so” stories, rather that useful concepts necessary for understanding life. Contrast this with Mendel’s genetics: his experiments can be repeated today and are actually helpful for novice students (but not so much to the more advanced ones).

Epigenetic adaptations do not seem to persist beyond a few generations while other adaptations, such as antibiotic resistance, seem part of the inbuilt capabilities of organisms rather than represent evolution. We have not seen one organism evolve into another even at the unicellular level where populations are extremely large and generations appear at a very high rate. We see that adaptations are limited and reverse sometimes. Organisms have limited change potential across various features that result in actual population changes if the proper conditions occur for long enough time. For instance, in humans we see changes in height, weight, skin color, digestive system, etc. But no human ever exceeded 9 ft or 1,500 lb and no human naturally developed feline-like multicolor skin.

Elements of Darwinian or Lamarckian Evolution might turn out to be correct one day (so far there’s no clear evidence). But organism variance around an average seems quite narrow thus invalidating overall both Lamarckism and Darwinism. In addition as seen here, here and here, Darwinism as a whole just doesn’t make sense. Even when and if elements of these theories actually happen, Lamarck or Darwin can still not be hailed as pioneers, as all they did is issue hypotheses without proof like many others that ventured guesses about this or that phenomenon.

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