A new book published earlier this year has finally gotten some quite interesting attention. The book is called; “Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection” by philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith. It got a very positive review for the most part in Science by Jay Odenbaugh…
“Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection is a dense and deep work on the foundations of evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biologists tell us that evolution by natural selection occurs when a few ingredients are present—specifically, when there is variation with respect to a trait, those variants differ in the numbers of offspring produced, and this variation is heritable to some degree.”
“Unfortunately, as Godfrey-Smith argues, this recipe is far too simple, and even more complicated versions such as the replicator approach offered by Richard Dawkins suffer serious flaws. This “classical recipe,” for example, ignores the fact that for some organisms numbers of offspring don’t necessarily determine reproductive success (“fitness”) whereas rates of population growth, age structure, or variation in expected numbers of offspring do.”
“Likewise, natural selection and patterns of heredity can “cancel” each other out, leaving no evolutionary change. The concept of Dawkins’s replicators—those entities that interact with like entities and of which copies are made—presupposes that there can be no reproduction without replication, which is false when we have continuously varying traits evolving by natural selection. Thus, our standard models for understanding what evolution by natural selection is are just too simple.”
What a bombshell Jay Odenbaugh wrote! Could this be the beginning of the end for Dawkins being one of the lead spokespersons for natural selection? This new theoretical framework better replace the old one with some viable and testable alternative. Sadly, Peter Godfrey-Smith uses a scheme which requires more imagination than empirical.
His scheme consists of three parameters…
1) H (reliability of inheritance)
2) C (relation of traits to fitness)
3) S (dependence of reproductive differences on intrinsic traits)
He then graphs these in what is called; population space. Odenbaugh attempts to give this scheme credibility by giving some examples to illustrate the new framework. For example if one of the twins gets hit by lightning which disables it from reproducing, this in turn doesn’t affect the other twin, fit or not. Are you following my point?
Neutral drift according to Peter Godfrey-Smith is not a “force” or label for ignorance; “rather it concerns where one is in the space of Darwinian populations.” As far as units of selection, he rejects it but offers no plausible alternative. The explanation of the great transformations and innovations from Cambrian explosion is a bit bizarre to say the least.
He writes…”With regard to evolutionary transitions, he notes that often the formation of new biological individuals involves marginal Darwinian populations moving to paradigmatic ones and the parts of such populations (that is, the lower-level entities) moving from paradigmatic ones to marginal ones—a process he terms ‘de-Darwinizing.’”
Wait a minute, hold on here…Did he just claim members of a population move, by some unexplained force, into a new paradigm? Like from a sponge into a trilobite or something along those lines? And that others move out of the paradigm into the margins? This really doesn’t explain specified complex features in animals such as wings, eyes and other body parts.
What also seems bizarre, this review comes out on the verge of Darwin’s 150th anniversary celebration by pro-evolutionists and atheists in general. The book certainly undermines the party for Darwin. What you know about natural selection is wrong using meaningless graphs of arbitrary parameters that might omit key concepts, without knowing how to score them objectively. Keep in mind, what the hypothesis of evolution proposes about natural selection is wrong, and this new concept which is supposed to be an “expansion” of it, is wrong as well.