We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in our understanding of how evolution can act…on evolution, yielding mechanisms that allow both adaptation and heritability within the course of a lifetime. And such paradigm shifts almost always have societal consequences. Manel Esteller shows that epigenetics also impacts the “dark genome” in a way that may improve cancer diagnostics.
So says Andrew D. Ellington in "Epigenetics and Society: Did Erasmus Darwin foreshadow the tweaking of his grandson’s paradigm?"(The Scientist, Volume 25 | Issue 3 | Page 14).
He means, roughly, a revival of Lamarckism, the idea that life forms can acquire genetic information from their environment as well as through Darwin's natural selection acting on random mutation. Why that was controversial, I will never know.
But, he warns,
We can expect that epigenetics will be held up as the forerunner of that bastard child of Creationism, Intelligent Design. Dribs and drabs of this are already appearing on the Interwebs, but it may soon come to a school board near you.”
If so, that will mainly be because this is the current paradigm: Mediocrities camped in lecture rooms spout Darwin-only and obsess about the possibility that high school teachers may be preparing their students to … doubt!
Well, I always say to students, when in doubt, doubt. And when spouted over by mediocrities, keep quiet until you are clear of the mess, and meanwhile doubt plenty.
Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.