The Darwin paradigm is crumbling, but the road to a new Synthesis will not likely be the final word, nor, indeed, anything more than a new ideology.
Fair or unfair, we should welcome the new developments, but also be wary of falling into the same old traps.
You can use the ‘eonic model’ in WHEE to get an idea of some of the issues, things missing, and most importantly that no simple account of human evolution is likely to be possible.
In fact, we can state the issue clearly by saying: evolution cannot be solved by science (as we know it). Science can resolve the base of evolution, its genetics, and much else, but the overall process of ‘evolution’ is mysterious, the reason that religionists tend to be chronic disstenters. That should lead us to warn that, while science can’t solve ‘evolution’, religion can’t either. The creationist accounts don’t wash, while the more intelligent ID accounts are almost beside the point. Evolutionary structures could show design, but so what? We still need to know how that happens. And in the process we would be likely to discover new laws or processes of nature that exhibit design. It is hard to avoid that: look at the structures in any biological textbook: the ‘design’ of biochemical ‘machines’ is stunning, but to say it is more than ‘design’, but also ‘intelligent design’ is a confusing inference that goes too far, or is at least so far unproven. But design is indeed an aspect of nature.
If you study the eonic effect, a kind of cognitive dissonance occurs, due to the mixture of modes, as with with the presentation of a ‘mechanical’ model that isn’t really mechanical, and a language of that mechanism for ‘machines’ that would be so advanced we couldn’t credit their possibility, at first. For example, can we imagine machines that, in a short list, process literature, compute cultural forms, operate over millennia intermittently, etc.. the sense of design is overwhelming, until it suddenly collapses: no design argument we can think of can work, what to say of a machine. So the idea of a model helps here. The suspicion arises that hidden ‘laws’ of nature are so complex that they are hard to distinguish for design sequences from actual designers. If that is true we should stay away from design and stick to models, we will reinvent superstition with design arguments, while models plod along tortoise-like but quietly accumulating data and smaller insights.
The point here is that history since the invention of writing is documented at the centuries level, a unique dataset. To our surprise, and luck, it shows a tidbit of an evolutionary sequence, and we get suspicious from looking at this: the ‘evolution’ (which simply means developmental process) may be a clue to earlier evolution, which we take to be genetic. But suspicion arises that real ‘evolution’ is both genetic, or at least basid on individual organisms, and on groups, the reason, indeed, we focus on species. Evolution, we guess, is a species level transformation (producing individuals nonetheless) that must have a higher level of action than genetics. The ‘eonic effect’ is a useful study, therefore, because it shows us evolution without genetics. The confusion arises because this process would test itself against its environment, and the result is the confusion of this random process and the unseen higher level.
In this context the work of Noble cited today is tantalizing:
The model makes no use of epigenetics, but the subject is getting to be tantalizing: it would help to be able to claim that certain environmental situations could change genes. The eonic effect seems to hint at that, but offers no conclusion. Man’s genetics must be ‘evolving’ under the influence of civilizational evolution, but the evidence is not there yet (and hasn’t been searched for in this sense)
Clearly, such genetic changes wouldn’t be random…
It makes sense, and always did, to think that evolution needs to deal with larger modules of ‘genetic something’, rather than individual genes.
And speciation is clearly a problem with Darwinism, while in the eonic effect we see a process that can operate on a vast scale, making us suspicious that ‘civilizational evolution’ is Evolution 2.0, so to speak, resuming after the earlier period of homo sapiens emerging…
To be continued…