The Crisis of Darwinism and Its Echoes Today

At the beginning of the 20th century, with the advent of genetics, Darwinism was in a deep crisis. Even during Darwin’s lifetime, an argument appeared, called “Jenkin’s nightmare” that if a random useful trait appears in a single individual, it will be absorbed in the process of crossing with ordinary individuals, drown in a swamp, which is why this postulate is also called the “bogging argument” ( swamping argument). The experiments of Hugo de Vries, and later the experiments of Johansen, led to the conclusion that there is no accumulative role of natural selection, the only driving force of evolution is mutation. The Synthetic Theory of Evolution, recognized today by most biologists, resolved the contradictions with the help of evolutionary genetics. The population was taken as the elementary unit of evolution, and not the individual, as Darwin believed. That is, roughly speaking, it is not the most adapted individuals that survive, but the most adapted populations on average. In general, all these are known truths. The formula about the population as an elementary unit of evolution is written in all school textbooks. A brief history and presentation of the theories of evolution existing from ancient times to the present day are presented by me here. This link may be needed to understand what nomogenesis, neo-Lamarckism, etc. are.

However, there is something left behind the scenes. So, in the USSR, against the backdrop of the crisis of Darwinism, many alternative theories of evolution were born. For example, N.I. Vavilov put into practice Berg’s ideas about nomogenesis and, in particular, his law on homological series in hereditary variability lies entirely in line with the nomogenetic paradigm. Vavilov’s opponent Trofim Lysenko adhered to neo-Lamarckian principles. This was not said aloud, both were called “Soviet creative Darwinists.” However, certain consequences follow from any theory, culminating in quite specific solutions. In the case of Vavilov and Lysenko, these were decisions in the field of agriculture. The history of the struggle between the carriers of alternative evolutionary paradigms, as is known, ended tragically for Vavilov: he was repressed and died in prison. As you know, Lysenko considered genetics to be a pseudoscience and enjoyed authority among the Soviet leadership, and the merits of the Soviet leadership and, in particular, I.V. I do not belittle Stalin at all, and even vice versa, but the fact remains: in the USSR, the crisis of Darwinism tragically turned into a political and economic plane. And this despite the fact that STE was created by Soviet, British and American scientists (of course, this cannot be called a population, but there were many scientists) back in the 20s. However, it is one thing – the existence of a theory in scientific articles and monographs, another thing – whether the population, the leadership of the country understood the essence of the problem …

Surprisingly, the issue has not lost relevance to this day. Let’s translate it into metaphors. What is the subject matter of the Natural Selector? He intends to carve Pinocchio out of the log, or his idea is a set of figures from Gigachads in the center and several Soydzheks along the edges of the composition, so that, in the event that the cave is filled up, it turns out that the puny Soydzheks are able to exodus through a narrow gap in the rubble, into which Gigachads-troglodytes will crawl through, leave the alma mater, like the Jews led by Moses from Egypt? What was the will of God? What is an ideal, what is a norm, what is a sin? After all, if the elementary unit of evolution is an individual, as Darwin believed, the Natural Selector was busy carving a sculpture of Aphrodite, but the puffy Venus is not the norm, this is a consequence of the vice of gluttony. And if the Natural Selector is aimed at a population that is sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, then the hunchback is part of the norm. Was the Natural Selector planning Sodom and Gomorrah? lived birch moths (Biston betularia) in Manchester, white and clean survived on birch trunks, black as hell noticed and eaten by sparrows. With the development of industry, birch trees were covered with soot and soot. Yesterday’s white and holy butterflies began to be exterminated like sparrows of sinners, the population quickly turned black. So what is the true intent of the Natural Selector? And to this day you can hear how politicians talk about ideals, norms and sin, about traditional and Western values, about humanity and transhumanism as if Pope Carlo carved Pinocchio with a long nose, two arms and two legs, and not a multi-headed multi-armed monster, whose name is Legion a population that always needs a certain number of freaks, who are freaks only from the point of view of those who are most effective today, and tomorrow freaks and handsome men will switch places.

If we go further, we can recall the quote by N.I. Vavilov: “Selection is evolution directed by the will of man.” This means that a person from an object (a subject of creativity of natural selection) of evolution turns, with the advent of reason, into a subject of evolution (a creator producing genetically modified cats). And everything would be fine, but in this case, ideals, norms and sins are no longer determined by nature, but by the person himself, who, as you know, can imagine anything, for example, Ichthyander from Belyaev’s novel “Amphibian Man”. Does a person have a transhumanist right to choose the biological form of his own existence? Politicians are also arguing about this with foam at the mouth.

So it turns out that STE was written in the 20s of the XX century by Soviet scientists, while the crisis of Darwinism continued in the USSR. Then STE was included in school textbooks, but until now the crisis of Darwinism continues in the minds of the population and those in power.

Tyulin D.Yu., candidate of biological sciences

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