In a previous post I cited de Duve’s book, “Genetics of Original Sin…” which in Chpt 8 discusses how something like “Lamarkian inheritance” can occur through epigenetic changes to the developing brains of both animals and humans. A recent paper in Science (3/23/18; V.359; p.1330) presents the results of experiments along these lines. The following is a quote from the summary:
“The relationship between genes and the environment on the brain and how they affect behavior has been a long-standing issue. Can the genome of the individual brain cells be changed by environmental factors? If so, which types of genetic changes can result?What is the basis of this genetic diversity? What are the physiological implications? Bedrosian et al explore one possibility for how neuronal genomes can exhibit plasticity in response to environmental factors during early life, providing integrative evidence for the effect of early maternal care on the genomes of neurons.”
I understood that some folks in the 19th century hated to see Lamarkism replaced by Darwinism, because they felt that with the latter view the “ills of human nature” were cast in stone according to the ‘genetic hand’ you were dealt with at birth. This article in Science seems to indicate that parents can use ‘brain plasticity’ to steer the function of their children’s brains to operate in a more productive manner than they otherwise would have. Of course the article makes no claim that any such improvement can be passed on through the children’s genes (i.e. true Lamarkism), but it does give us hope that our human fate is not completely a “throw of the dice”.
Again, I highly recommend de Duve’s book, and I would like to hear the views that BioLogos resident experts have on this subject.