Lamarkianism and Randomness

Hi Mike,
I listened to the last stretch of the debate video…kept on waiting for Nobel to present some firm new evidence for Lamarkianism but didn’t hear anything new (it seemed that he might have been discussing his former findings and claims with Dawkins.)
Anyways, I’m super skeptical of any “Lamarkian” claims… For example, here again is a detailed critique of Nobel’s work by Coyne, who addresses specifics of Nobel’s research (this blog post was in 2022…so its pretty recent and I don’t know if Nobel has come up with any new data since then. Coyne talks about why the stuff Nobel has been measuring is not really Lamarkian evolution.

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eh? I doubt it…how can you compare a literal reading of Genesis creation account (which is very clearly neither a proverb, metaphorical, prophetic, or poetic in literary language, with flat earthism which has only those kinds of biblical passages that vagely allude to the doctrine?

Add to the above the fact (and yes i mean fact), two New Testamennt apostles write of the flood and sodom and gomorah accounts in Genesis as being literal (Luke and PEter)

Add to the above the genealogies in Matthew and Mark…clearly outlining family tree history…

You are dreaming if you think the two (YEC and flat earthism) are similar in biblical interpretation. Personally i find in dividuals who continue to throw flat earth arguments out there are intellectually challenged idiots as the reality is there isnt any theological basis for their belief, the bible texts they use in support are poor ones at best.

I could come up with a stupid analogy for flat earthisms method of developing doctrine, take the following biblical statement

“build your house upon the rock”

According to the appropriate and correct biblical theology, the rock here is Christ right, so given that we all must build our houses upon christ…

Do you know where there is a christos for sale anywhere? If you do, please let me know, i want to obtain a copy to bury in my back yard before i do the concrete slab for a new granny flat im building up the back!

There is a massive chasm between the bibilical support for YEC and the idiocy of Flat Earthism and trying to link that with the fundamentals of uniformatarianism is a silly mistake.

Adam, did you even read the discussion about the Answers in Genesis article?

The whole point is that those five word replacements are all that is needed to turn it from an argument against a flat earth into an argument against a young earth.

If that doesn’t show just how identical young earthism is to flat earthism, then quite frankly I don’t know what does. There is no chasm whatsoever between them, neither scientifically nor Biblically. They are both as completely divorced from reality and as completely divorced from an honest and informed understanding of Scripture as each other.


The point Noble raised that seemed to puzzle Dawkins was figure 42 from the 2001 Nature paper on the human genome project.

I find it interesting “Lamarckian” changes can be observed in 1-3 generations, and while I appreciate how this isn’t interesting or significant for evolutionary changes, it is significant for the life you lead and pass on to your children.

I also saw this a few weeks ago and wonder how it fits into the current discussion

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Yeah, “Larmarkian” in big quotes though, as Coyne explains why these aren’t long term changes. But yes, it is sobering that some effects of stress can affect the functioning of the genome of one’s child, into the next generation…! I remember being surprized by that when I first heard it several years ago.

Re: the BBC article: Interesting! Humans have a fascinating ability to adapt to their environments and as the title suggests, this is by simple natural selection (conventional evolutionary processes). Similarly, Tibetans have alleles to make blood with more hemoglobin to facilitate living at high elevations. (I guess the children of Bajau and Tibetan parents would be fantastic at diving in high-altitude lakes :wink:


Makes it interesting to look at that in light of the "sins of the father " verses., even though I think that is primarily talking about social implications.


I’d like to read more about that–general populations also do produce more hemoglobin when oxygen deprived, such as with sleep apnea, too–it’s really interesting. Thanks

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Yes, because that is what the data from experiments demonstrates.

There is no statistical correlation between the mutations that occur and the mutations that are needed in a specific environment. This isn’t an assumption. This is a conclusion backed by data.


Hi Randy,

Yes, part of the increased hemoglobin response in humans is a result of “acclimation” to high altitudes (i.e. no genetic differences are involved, simply a physiological response), but here was an article that investigated genetic variations in some populations which gives them greater ability…

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Don’t hold your breath.

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The Modern Synthesis (1930’s and 40’s) predates the discovery of Neutral theory (1960’s), This would mean biologists abandoned what you describe as Neo-Darwinism about 50 years ago.

That is not an interpretation of data, at least not a scientific one.

The Modern Synthesis has already been heavily modified by Neutral theory. I haven’t seen anything presented by Noble or others that requires a drastic modification of the theory we already have. Yes, there are a few species that pass on methylation patterns to subsequent generations, but these are limited changes and a limited number of species. This doesn’t change the fact that the bulk of eukaryotes do not pass on methylation patterns in any meaningful sense, so the Weismann barrier does apply to many, many species.

This may run into problems when we look at genetic diseases. Some children are born with genetic diseases that are a product of de novo mutations. I think it would be difficult to say that either the parents or the child chose to have that mutation. We also don’t choose to have cancer which are also a product of somatic mutations, and can possibly occur at a higher rate in people carrying other inherited mutations (e.g. BRCA4).

I tend to view the discussions on morality as a question of dualism. Even ignoring evolution for the moment, I think most would agree that the human brain is produced through natural means as part of embryonic development. How that relates to consciousness and brain function is a whole other discussion.

I would agree that the Modern Synthesis as it existed in the 30’s and 40’s is not the best model. The current theory, however, is pretty good. What I would encourage you to do is look at the actual data, not the misrepresentations given by Noble and others.


It seems to depend on the point of reference. Surely the mutations which have occurred are beneficial and purposeful for human existence as it currently stands… or breathes :slightly_smiling_face:

W.R.T. randomness of mutations (and correct me here if I am wrong).

People often get confused between two types of randomness. Data show that mutations don’t have equal probability at all base pairs across the genome (i.e., some stretches of DNA are more likely to mutate than others). But that sort of randomness is NOT what classic evolutionary theory asserts. Rather, it is the randomness of a mutation with respect to its function that is assumed to be the case.


Yes… consider events that are predicatable and unpredictable, that speaks to one type of randomness.

This other randomness, seems to be a cross between an event that is determined, but is allowed to function as if it was undetermined. I don’t know if I am saying it exactly right. But part of it, is this ideology that thinks an uncaused or undetermined event will be random

That’s what all of science depends on.

There are beneficial, neutral, and detrimental human mutations. All of these are occurring and have occurred. Detrimental mutations tend to be selected against, beneficial mutations are passed on at a higher rate, and neutral mutations fix at random (or hitch a ride with nearby beneficial mutations).

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That is relativity, I think… which speaks to whether an event is considered to be random or purposeful

Random with respect to fitness is the common description. Perhaps a counter-description would be helpful. If we saw a process that specifically senses an environmental challenge and specifically targets a specific mutation to meet that challenge then we would consider that a non-random mutation. CRISPR/Cas9 comes the closest to this process where chunks of phage genome are specifically inserted into regions of the bacterial genome. I would consider CRISPR/Cas9 to be non-random mutation.

It is also important to note that mutations were found to be random before we understood the structure of DNA, much less what mutations looked like at the molecular level. It is also important to note that prior to these discoveries it was an open question as to whether mutations were random with respect to fitness. As far as I know, at no point were random mutations an assumption made within the theory.


All determinations of randomness within science require a point of reference. A Gaussian curve (i.e. normal distribution) requires units on the x and y axes. Randomness makes no sense unless we are describing what the randomness is relative to.



Uniformity is a measurement that requires a reference.