Re: New Cellular Evolution Theory Rejects Darwinian Assumptions

Posted by
Andy™ on Jun 19, 2002 at 01:42

Re: New Cellular Evolution Theory Rejects Darwinian Assumptions (Sparrow)

It's almost as possible as the original, too. Honestly, let me break this down to see if I'M misunderstanding it.

Life did not begin with one primordial cell. Instead, there were initially at least three simple types of loosely constructed cellular organizations. They swam in a pool of genes, evolving in a communal way that aided one another in bootstrapping into the three distinct types of cells by sharing their evolutionary inventions.

...How? One of these things is one way, one is another, one is another, and so on. I hardly think they could benefit each other in any way at all. This is being described as if this pool of non-cells was one organism, supporting itself. Ridiculous.

The driving force in evolving cellular life on Earth, says Carl Woese, a microbiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been horizontal gene transfer, in which the acquisition of alien cellular components, including genes and proteins, work to promote the evolution of recipient cellular entities.

And yet the fundamental problem of what gave them their start is still ever present. How was there horizontal gene transfer when genes didn't even exist? A pool of sugar water won't do the trick. It had to start somewhere, and even then the chances of the non-cells created being able to aid each other are quite unlikely, are they not? Consider that no statement on how these non-cells were aiding one another or what chemicals they were passing to each other is given.

Cellular evolution, he argues, began in a communal environment in which the loosely organized cells took shape through extensive horizontal gene transfer.

Started impossibly at the perfect time, in the perfect place, in the ideal setting on an inhospitible orb, completely at random with no aiding organization from outside the system. Again, how were the initial genes developed? He doesn't say.

Such a transfer previously had been recognized as having a minor role in evolution, but the arrival of microbial genomics, Woese says, is shedding a more accurate light. Horizontal gene transfer, he argues, has the capacity to rework entire genomes. With simple primitive entities this process can "completely erase an organismal genealogical trace."

And in a pre-genome setting this has no meaning whatsoever. All we have are non-cells existing alongside one another passing chemicals and amazingly fortunate in their own origins, none the less, they somehow came together and even started creating genes all on their own with no programming of their own like a cell has, which tells them how to do what they do.

"We cannot expect to explain cellular evolution if we stay locked in the classical Darwinian mode of thinking," Woese said. "The time has come for biology to go beyond the Doctrine of Common Descent."

Granted... but should it go from Common Descent into randomized soup? On it goes... Referring to his attainment of the Medal of Science, which is impressive considering this recent work.

Tell me, please, how does this solve the problem of how these non-cells came to be in the first place? Chemicals randomly coming together can happen, but that doesn't give us life. Self-assembling crystals are one thing, Complex organisms are another, and any organism is bafflingly complex.
So now instead of having one organism to evolve, we have multiple, in a close location, all contributing to one another's development. How they do this, where they came from, how they came to be... are all un-answered questions.

And yet it's called a theory. Experimentation? Anything? Anything at all?

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