Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Evolution NEWS
 

With a Startling Candor, Oxford Scientist Admits a Gaping Hole in Evolutionary Theory

This just in: A rather basic question fundamental to any evolutionary account of life's development -- how "genotypes generate phenotypes," in other words how genes build an individual creature -- remains totally obscure to science.

Writing in Cell Communication and Signaling, Oxford University's Jonathan B.L. Bard reviews James Shapiro's Evolution: A View from the 21st Century, and Gissis and Jablonka, eds., Transformations of Lamarckism: from Subtle Fluids to Molecular Biology (MIT Press). From the abstract:

The evolutionary synthesis, the standard 20th century view of how evolutionary change occurs, is based on selection, heritable phenotypic variation and a very simple view of genes. It is therefore unable to incorporate two key aspects of modern molecular knowledge: first is the richness of genomic variation, so much more complicated than simple mutation, and second is the opaque relationship between the genotype and its resulting phenotype. Two new and important books shed some light on how we should view evolutionary change now. [emphasis added]
From our reading, the most interesting aspect of this review is Bard's candor addressing the more or less complete lack of understanding about how genotypes specify phenotypes. He writes:
As of now, we have no good theory of how to read [genetic] networks, how to model them mathematically or how one network meshes with another; worse, we have no obvious experimental lines of investigation for studying these areas. There is a great deal for systems biology to do in order to produce a full explanation of how genotypes generate phenotypes and so provide the basis for a full 21st century model of evolution.
Yet this fact itself always seems to get smoothly elided when Darwinists boast of how their theory has got everything all figured out. Isn't that interesting.