Do we have a Theory of Evolution?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

|| By: Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja, Ph.D. ||


Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja, Ph.D.

Bhaktivedanta Institute

The neo-Darwinian theory of genetic random mutation and Natural Selection, does nothing to explain speciation. Thus, what has been called “natural selection” has come under much scrutiny and critique in recent times.[1]

The problem is that natural selection requires the existence of a stable array of species from which selection can be made. So natural selection does not perform the speciation, only the selection after speciation has occurred. The activity of creating new species must therefore lie in the random mutations of the genome. But this raises the problem that such mutations are generally always fatal to the organism, plus a whole host of other problems that modern advances in molecular biology have revealed about the detailed mechanisms occurring in DNA replication processes, including such things as intrinsic error correcting mechanisms during DNA transcription.[2]

Thus a theory of how species arise (speciation) does not currently exist in biology.

The Vedantic/Bhagavat paradigm rejects the objectivist theory of evolution as not only wrong but an impediment to the actual scientific comprehension of Nature. As explained in a previous post, the Vedantic conception of Life is a fully differentiated/determinate one that displays its variety in and as an dynamic organic whole. The crucial element of interdependence that is missing in modern theories of insular organism life is fully embraced in what we may call the Post-Darwinian, post-reductionist, post-modern conception of Life the Vedantic/Bhagavat conception offers. Organic wholism is a conception that has its inception as far back as the writings of Sri Isopanishad, where the first aphorism states: om purman adhah purnam idam, purnat purnam udachyate.[3] The Organic Whole produces organic wholes. An organic whole cannot arise from parts that have to be assembled. That process can only produce inorganic, mechanical machines or chemical processes, not living organisms.[4]

In order to understand this new conception, one only has to consider the empirical evidence that is apparent to all ordinary observation, namely, that a developing organism shows that an obvious pattern or blueprint exists at the most fundamental level of embryonic development, or ontology, which guides the formation of the adult organism. We may call this the soul, or concept of the individual organism, which belongs to a particular species, which in turn corresponds to a universal concept or genus to which the organism belongs. In this UPI (universal, particular, individual) structure we have the fundamental features of every rational Concept.[5]

Here we find a nested hierarchy in which the individual organism is fully determined endogenously and exogenously. This system has to be studied in detail before one can understand the great utility and scientific value it has for explaining individuality. Sankhya and Vedantic philosophy go to great length in explaining these details, which we hope to bring to modern scientific understanding. This is one of the current projects of the Bhaktivedanta Institute in which we encourage the participation of all interested scientists, philosophers, etc.

The idea of predetermined forms establishing teleological processes to actualize such forms has been found to be an acceptable premise by numerous scientists, although such views have generally been ignored and unreported by the evolution-obsessed hegemony that has taken hold of western science. Here we give quotes by a few of those who reject the random chance scenario and have come to accept the more determinative view.

John A Davison (2005)

“There is no question that artificial selection can significantly alter the phenotype as demonstrated with dogs, goldfish, and a host of other domesticated forms, both plant and animal. Nevertheless, the products of the most intensive selection have not exceeded the species barrier. It seems that sexual reproduction is incapable of transforming species even to new members of the same genus. Even if this could be demonstrated, it seems very unlikely that such a process could ever produce the higher categories of genus, family, order or class.”

“It is the responsibility of the scientist to expose failed hypotheses, but it is equally his responsibility to offer a replacement for them…. I propose that the information for organic evolution has somehow been predetermined in the evolving genome in a way comparable to the way in which the necessary information to produce a complete organism is contained within a single cell, the fertilized egg….Viewed in this way, ontogeny and phylogeny become part of the same organic continuum utilizing similar mechanisms for their expression.”

J.A. Davidson, “A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis” [2005]
Leo S Berg ;
“Evolution is in a great measure an unfolding of pre-existing rudiments.” ([1969],page 406)

Berg, L.S. [1969], Nomogenesis or Evolution Determined by Law. M.I.T. Press, Cambridge. (original Russian edition, 1922)
Otto Schindewolf [1993]
“At most, the environment plays only a similar role with regard to organisms; it can only provoke and set in motion some potential that is already present.”

Schindewolf, O. [1993], “Basic Questions in Paleontology.” The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. (original German edition, 1950).
A.R. Wallace finally abandoned the whole scheme of contingent evolution as is so obvious from the title of his last book, “The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose.” (Wallace [1911]).

Wallace, A.R. [1911], The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose. Moffat Yard and Co., New York.
Pierre Grasse commented on the Darwinian view as follows: “A cluster of facts makes it very plain that Mendelian, allelomorphic mutation plays no part in creative evolution.”

“…the existence of internal factors affecting evolution has to be accepted by any objective mind.”

“Directed by all-powerful selection, chance becomes a sort of providence which, under the cover of atheism, is not named but which is secretly worshipped. We believe that there is no reason for being forced to choose between “either randomness or the supernatural,” a choice into which the advocates of randomness in biology strive vainly to back their opponents. It is neither randomness nor supernatural power, but laws which govern living things; to determine these laws is the aim and goal of science, which should have the final say. (Grasse, page 107)

Grasse, P.P. [1977], Evolution of Living Organisms. Academic Press, New York. (original French edition 1973).


[1] “The Scientific Revolution in Evolution,” Science and Scientist [Jan-Mar 2008]. Bhaktivedanta Institute.

[2] J. Shapiro, “Bacteria are small but not stupid: cognition, natural genetic engineering and socio-bacteriology.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science 38 (2007) 807-819.

[3] A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, “Sri Isopanisad,” Bhaktivedanta Book Trust [1969].

[4] Hannah Ginsborg Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 42, no. 1 (2004) 33-65.

[5] G.W.F. Hegel, “Science of Logic,” translated by A.V. Miller, London: George Allen & Unwin [1969].