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

Development is a transformation of the whole (1)

At every one of the cell divisions leading from a human zygote to, say, a hematopoietic (“blood-forming”) stem cell in the bone marrow, and from there to a mature red blood cell circulating in our arteries and veins, the cellular DNA is replicated. But we cannot track the dramatic transformations of cell type along this pathway of differentiation by looking for anything like step-by-step changes, or “mutations”, in the bare DNA sequence. There may be occasional mutations — and they will have their consequences — but no one will claim that they progressively add up to an explanation of the trajectory of the cell lineage.

But neither is there any other cellular constituent, whether simple or complex, whose discrete changes would by themselves spell out the destiny of this particular lineage. For all the talk of “master regulators” of this or that, the entire literature of molecular biology today is pregnant with a momentous truth: context matters in every biochemical transaction. The significance of those transactions is qualified by what is going on around them, so that we can trace the development of a cell only as the thorough-going transformation of a whole.

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