Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > Genes and the Central Fallacy of Evolutionary Theory > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

A logic hollow at its core

I remarked at the outset that, by itself, the widely advertised core logic of evolution [that is, the principles of variation, heredity, and survival of the fittest] tells us little if anything about what to expect from the history of life on earth. Stephen Jay Gould made a similar point, acknowledging that while he taught this logic for thirty years, it says nothing concrete about “the sciences of natural history”. He added, however, that the compelling force of the logic (which he called the “syllogistic core”) can at least “rebut charges of hokum or incoherence at the foundation [of evolutionary theory]” (2002, pp. 125-6 fn).

Well, I hope you can see by now that the “compelling" syllogistic core is itself hokum. It is hokum for two reasons. First, it has been founded upon particular static entities, genes, that are incapable of doing anything — entities, moreover, that cannot even be defined in a meaningful, functional sense, and that in any case are subject, during processes of development and reproduction, to the almost unimaginably sophisticated governance of the cell and organism. The living activity of the cell and organism can never be understood except contextually, which is to say, holistically.

In the second place, the core logic of evolution completely ignores the organism as agent — an active, dynamic, adaptable agent pursuing a highly directed path in all its affairs, including when it makes its own, meticulously composed contribution to future generations.

bullet Locate this passage inGenes and the Central Fallacy of Evolutionary Theory