The Mother of Invention (March 9, 2005)

“I don’t know if we’re more religious today,” says Ken Bingman, who has taught biology in Kansas City public schools for 42 years, “but I see more and more students who want a link to God.”

While religion certainly looks to be on the upswing in the United States, there’s a lot more to the resurgence of creationism than a rising tide of religious fervor. Received wisdom counsels little more than continued resistance against the Bible thumpers at the gates. Daniel Dennett, author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, is too busy excoriating creationists and scientific fellow-travelers to notice that the dominant biological theory of the day is inadvertently encouraging the creationist revival. The chief threat to Darwinian evolution is none other than neo-Darwinian evolution. As conceived by Austrian theorist August Weismann in the 1890s, neo-Darwinism shares fundamental features with creationism, not the least of which is reliance on blind faith rather than empirical fact. The creationist tide may never be stemmed until biology abandons Weismannian reductionism and returns to a more traditional Darwinian outlook. 

Given the cultural atmosphere of his upbringing, Darwin could hardly have helped but absorb the lesson that an all-knowing, masculine deity commands the cosmos. At a time when science was still joined at the hip with religion, the modern prophets were Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, whose mastery of mathematics gave them a communion of sorts with the Almighty, allowing them to receive the eternal equations supervising the operations of the universe. Newton’s laws of motion were no less than God’s thoughts. 

As above, so below. After establishing the heavens, the cosmic Mechanic fashioned each species of life according to a design of His choosing. According to theologian William Paley — whose treatise, Natural Theology, had young Darwin temporarily hypnotized — an organism is no different in principle than a watch. Just as a watch cannot come into being without the painstaking efforts of a craftsman, organisms are mechanisms constructed and wound up by God and left to play out their allotted time on Earth.

But Darwin was a true naturalist. Guided by his intuitive sense of nature, he gradually outgrew Paley’s notion of divine authority over obedient matter. The naturalistic materialism of his mature years represented a total repudiation of theological mechanism, substituting divine creation with the creativity inherent in nature. His new understanding was prefigured in part by the deist teachings of his grandfather, Erasmus, who alleged that after devising the cosmic machine, the “deity” left the mundane affairs of terrestrial existence to their own devices.

Erasmus had a streak of the pagan in him. Though outwardly a scientific rationalist, he found religion in nature if not the Bible. Exploring a cave, he didn’t just find a bunch of rocks but glimpsed “the Goddess of Minerals naked, as she lay in her inmost bower.” The earth wasn’t just a passive depository for God’s will but “Mother Earth,” whose womb gave life and whose wrath — in the form of floods, eruptions, and quakes — could just as easily snuff it out. In contrast to the paternal principle of the heavens, the earth followed its own, darker, maternal principle.

Materialism is not so much a sophisticated modern philosophy as an ancient mythos that locates within the earth itself the source of life and its myriad forms. Etymologically, “mother” and “matter” are the same word, having evolved from the same Indo-European root. The materialist metaphysics signified by Mother Nature is not the reductionistic form we’re accustomed to today, in which particles are mere playthings of eternal laws of physics, but an expansive materialism in which matter is endowed with its own creative and destructive powers. 

In response to the 1859 debut of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, Adam Sedgwick, an old-school geologist, accused the author of trying to render humanity “independent of a Creator” by breaking the chains that link all secondary causes to God’s ultimate cause. Though Darwin’s declaration of independence was a prerequisite to the scientific study of life, he was understandably anxious about turning his back on the Father. Caught in the pull of two opposing worldviews, he conceded that his theological opinions were “hopelessly muddled.” The same could be said of his views on physics and life.

The starting-point for the theory of “descent with modification” is not the equations of Kepler, Galileo, and Newton but the fecundity of living nature and the resulting struggle for existence in the face of finite resources. Though Darwin invoked the authority of natural law so as to eliminate the role of divine intervention in the creation of species, at the core of evolution is novelty, and by definition novelty is not pre-determined, either by God or physics. While pledging allegiance to Newton as final arbiter of everything under the sun, he set out on a course that would ultimately undermine physical determinism in biology.

“Throw up a handful of feathers,” he says in The Origin of Species, “and all fall to the ground according to definite laws; but how simple is the problem where each shall fall compared to that of the action and reaction of the innumerable plants and animals which have determined, in the course of centuries, the proportional numbers and kinds of trees now growing on [Native American] ruins!” The mathematical abstractions of physics had little to offer when it came to either ecology or the internal dynamics of organisms. Dissenting from T. H. Huxley’s notion of animal automatism, Darwin stressed the importance of individual will in shaping behavior and maintained that a complex system of cells, tissues, and organs can’t function properly without a “coordinating power” that brings “the parts into harmony with each other.” Such talk has no place in a purely mechanistic program. 

While today evolution is generally thought to result from the purely mechanical interplay of natural selection and genetic mutation, Darwin explicitly rejected this view, assigning only a marginal role to the “spontaneous variations” (mutations) arising from the “germ-plasm” (genome). The variations subject to natural selection did not emerge from the germ-plasm buried deep within the organism’s cells but from its day-to-day struggle to survive in the face of competition and limited resources. Darwinian evolution is a model of clarity, elegance, and common sense: the adaptations made by organisms are transmitted to their progeny, and these adaptations become more ingrained and more pronounced with each passing generation until a new species emerges from the old. 

Ordinarily written off as “Lamarckian,” this view is incidental to Lamarck’s theory, according to which evolution, from the beginning, was divinely guided toward the emergence of Homo sapiens. As for the capacity of plants and animals to inherit traits taken up by their ancestors during their life-struggles, Darwin concurred. “I think there can be no doubt that use in our domestic animals has strengthened and enlarged certain parts, and disuse diminished them; and that such modifications are inherited.” He cited examples of animals that clearly inherited traits from their ancestors, such as young shepherd dogs that know, without training, to avoid running at sheep. He explained that domesticated chickens have no fear of cats or dogs because their ancestors became accustomed to common pets and lost their fear of them. Ostriches can’t fly because they inherited weak wing muscles and strong legs from their ancestors who learned to kick their enemies instead of taking flight. A similar effect in ducks “may be safely attributed to the domestic duck flying much less, and walking more, than its wild parents.” 

Darwin was skeptical of the notion that examples such as these — and there are literally countless more — could all result from genetic mutation. Why attribute a given trait to a mysterious and random process taking place in the depths of the body when there’s a perfectly obvious explanation involving the life-circumstances of ancestors? “Everyone knows that hard work thickens the epidermis on the hands; and when we hear that with infants, long before birth, the epidermis is thicker on the palms and the soles of the feet than on any other part of the body… we are naturally inclined to attribute this to the inherited effects of long-continued use or pressure.”

The meaning of evolution is that species are not created so much as self-created in the act of living and adapting. Regarding the origin of sea mammals, Darwin writes, “A strictly terrestrial animal, by occasionally hunting for food in shallow water, then in streams or lakes, might at last be converted into an animal so thoroughly aquatic as to brave the open ocean.” Due to the variability of bone structure in youth, newly-acquired behaviors can gradually result in structural modifications, such as flat-fish that pushed their eye sockets a little further up their skulls with each passing generation. “The tendency to distortion would no doubt be increased through the principle of inheritance.”

The key is that offspring inherit adaptations at the same age or younger than the age at which their parents originally made the adaptation. The alternative — that such changes result only from random genetic mutations — fails to explain the changes but merely surrenders the issue to chance. Rather than account for the fact that camels, which often have to kneel on sandy terrain, begin developing padded tissue on their knees while still in the womb, we simply say that it happened by chance, and this “explanation” repeats for every species on Earth in regard to any trait that might otherwise be attributed to the living adaptations of organisms in their struggle to survive. 

Finding this prospect intolerable, Darwin insisted on the centrality of the inheritance of adaptations, emphasizing that the young play a central role in this process. “For if each part [of the body] is liable to individual variations at all ages, and the variations tend to be inherited at a corresponding or earlier age, — propositions which cannot be disputed, — then the instincts and structure of the young could be slowly modified as surely as those of the adult; and both cases must stand or fall together with the whole theory of natural selection.” The primary source of variations to be selected or rejected is the will of the organism to survive and reproduce. 

But what if Darwin was wrong? He certainly stumbled with his fanciful theory of “pangenesis,” whereby each cell sloughs off tiny “gemmules” that reflect changes occurring in the body and transmit those changes to the reproductive organs. Pangenesis was intended to provide a mechanism enabling adaptations to be passed along to the next generation. According to Neal Gillespie, Darwin’s theory “assured him that a capricious deity could be excluded from the process of heredity as well as from speciation.” Unfortunately, another capricious deity, DNA, eventually took its place. 

August Weismann was absolutely correct when he concluded that organisms cannot affect the “determinants” (genes) in their reproductive cells. If genes are the sole vehicle of hereditary information, as Weismann assumed, then acquired characteristics cannot be inherited, and Darwinian evolution, with its typically English sentimentalism, must yield to a more precise, mechanistic form. 

But Weismann was very clear that his theory was not based on evidence and could never be tested. Cutting off the tails of mice — and finding that their offspring still had tails — proved nothing, as Weismann himself readily admitted. Though he claimed his argument was ironclad, he offered nothing to support it beyond the fact that he simply couldn’t imagine how hereditary information could be transferred by any means other than the passage of genes from parents to offspring. “We accept it, not because we are able to demonstrate the process in detail… but simply because we must, because it is the only possible explanation that we can conceive.” As neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins likes to point out, the inability of creationists to imagine how the species of life could have emerged without God’s help does not make creationism a scientific theory. What he fails to realize is that his argument applies with equal force to his own favored view.

Darwinian evolution can be expressed as a form of local creationism. Rather than products of a universal creator, species are shaped by their pragmatic adjustments to local environments. Thus, by emphasizing that evolution boils down to the purely mechanical interaction of genes and environment, neo-Darwinism reverses Darwin's innovation and restores the creation of species to universal causes. Whether theological or mathematical, mechanistic determinism is universal creationism.

As Darwin observed on the Pacific islands, it’s no accident that frogs, which can’t survive seawater, are found only on the islands where they evolved, whereas birds, which can fly from one island to the next, are found everywhere. When confronted with this fact, a creationist might say, “It pleased the Creator to place those frogs on some islands and not others.” Of course, this fails to explain the situation but merely restates the facts. Similarly, the neo-Darwinian reliance on genetic mutation as the source of heritable variations merely restates the fact that a transformation has taken place and that it has become biologically ingrained within the species.

Neo-Darwinsim shares many features with creationism. First, it is faith-based and untestable. It simply must be true. Second, it is universalist: the source of species is not local conditions and creative adaptations but transcendent principles that merely manifest locally. Third, like the exhortation that “God did it,” neo-Darwinism makes use of a generic, all-purpose explanation instead of tailoring its account to particular situations faced by particular organisms. Fourth, it is anthropomorphic. In place of a human-like God, a human-like language or “code” inscribed in DNA is responsible for shaping organisms. Fifth, it is mechanistic: we are machines assembled according to a blueprint or design. Whether this design is a “soul” crafted by God or a genome forged beneath the blind forces of mutation and natural selection, the body is a mechanism constructed from specifications of one sort or another. Finally, as with creationism, the power of speciation is appropriated from the species themselves and refashioned as an external, mechanical process. 

The shift from Darwinism to neo-Darwinism is pure atavism, a reversion to the transcendent determinism previously found only in creationist dogma. The law-giver may have been airbrushed out, but the law remains. Trouble is, with its cosmic Mechanic, creationism is clearly the strong form of mechanism, while neo-Darwinism — though obviously much closer to the truth — must remain the weak form. In the struggle between “intelligent design” and blind design, is it any wonder that creationism has proved so resilient?

Since the 1972 publication of Jacques Monod’s Chance and Necessity, the mechanistic theory of life has been known as reductionism. But what, precisely, is life being “reduced” to? Though often mistaken for the monistic doctrine of materialism, reductionism is a dualistic theory that reduces life not to matter but to physics. We have, on the one hand, the passive material constituents of the organism; on the other, the laws of physics that provide order and necessity to the otherwise chance motions of atoms and molecules. 

According to Stephen Rothman, a professor at UC San Francisco and an experimental biologist for 40 years, reductionistic bias has severely impaired the ability of researchers to accurately assess the operations of cells and bodies. Rothman offers the vesicle theory of protein transport as an example of the reductionistic approach at work. The vesicle theory is stupendously unwieldy and implausible, requiring 15 to 30 mechanisms to move proteins a few microns. None of the experiments cited in support of the theory can prove that these mechanisms actually exist but only what they would look like if they did. Proponents have never put their theory to the test, never saying, “If the theory is true, then such and such should happen.” Yet they remain implacably confident in themselves. Why? Because their supposition is the only way to account for the movement of protein on the view that cellular activities are completely lost without the guidance of physical and chemical principles. 

Since preparation of cell samples for viewing in electron microscopes inevitably distorts the final image, some proteins appear where they’re supposed to be, while others are phantoms. The resulting confusion allows†reductionist researchers to interpret all experimental results in their favor. Thus, if a protein appears where the vesicle theory predicts, it’s assumed to be in the correct place, and if not, it’s simply written off as a “contaminant.” As to predicted proteins that don’t show up at all, these are assumed to have been lost in the sample preparation process. 

Much like the automobile — a soothingly familiar mechanism in our daily lives — a vesicle is supposed to open up to allow proteins to enter it, then shut tight during transport and re-open upon reaching its destination. In the 60s, when Rothman demonstrated that proteins can freely enter and exit a vesicle even when it’s shut, most of his colleagues assumed his finding was flawed due to errors in sample preparation. In the 80s, when the brand new x-ray microscope proved him right, Rothman figured the vesicle proponents would admit their mistake. He’s still waiting. It seems that no amount of evidence, no matter how compelling, can falsify the vesicle theory. 

A self-proclaimed biological skeptic, Rothman is not the first to call into question the final authority of physics over biology. Ernst Mayr noted that the property of individuality, which is utterly foreign to atomic physics and chemistry, places biology beyond the grasp of physical analysis. Though the late Mayr helped bring neo-Darwinian theory to fruition in the 30s and 40s with the “modern synthesis” of natural selection and Mendelian genetics, he was dismissive of efforts at physical reductionism. “Attempts to reduce’ biological systems to the level of simple physico-chemical processes have failed because during the reduction the systems lost their specifically biological properties.” 

According to Niels Bohr — the first of the quantum generation to investigate the potential for a physics of life — a rigorous analysis of a cell would require knowing the initial values and positions of its constituent particles. Since measuring these particles disturbs them by breaking or dislocating bonds between them, it’s impossible to measure precisely the parts of a cell without altering it. Bohr compared this conundrum to his prior discovery that the momentum of an electron cannot be established once its position has been determined, and vice versa. Bohr called this “complementarity,” a principle he generalized to encompass all sufficiently complex systems, including cells and organisms. The more precisely we describe the parts, the cloudier the system as a whole becomes. Just as the quantum realm requires its own set of principles apart from classical physics, life, he concluded, is a primary phenomenon not subject to prior forms of analysis. 

In 1944, the same year DNA was identified as the carrier of genes, Erwin Schrodinger published a short book called What Is Life? Taking a somewhat rosier view than his Danish colleague, Schrodinger proclaimed that the inability of current physics to account for life is no reason to doubt the eventual success of the project. The only catch is that a successful resolution will depend on “other laws of physics hitherto unknown.” We have no idea what these laws might be or how to find them. All we know for sure, said Schrodinger, is that the ordering of living matter is “entirely different” from the physical processes described by statistical mechanics. Despite imploring the reader not to “accuse” him of calling genes “cogs of the organic machine,” Schrodinger is commonly cited to this day as a physicist who lent support to reductionistic biology.

To date, the most sustained, in-depth examination of biology by a physicist was carried out by Walter Elsasser, another pioneer in quantum mechanics who later turned to geophysics and proposed — against great opposition — what eventually became the definitive theory of the earth’s electromagnetic field. Intrigued by the challenge of explaining organisms from a physical standpoint, Elsasser approached the issue in terms of “precise point to point predictability of every step in a reaction chain that is both necessary and sufficient for a particular biological outcome.” Yet this method, he discovered, has no applicability to organisms. 

Quantum mechanics, the foundation of modern physics and the most thoroughly tested and successful theory of all time, is a statistical science, explaining the behavior of particles en masse rather than one quark at a time. What makes quantum mechanics a viable undertaking is that every particle of a given class is identical to every other particle of that class. As long as every proton is identical to every other proton, and every electron is identical to every other electron, etc., the averages obtained for a given class apply equally to every member within it.

By contrast, life is characterized by individuality, or “radical heterogeneity,” in Elsasser’s phrase. Macromolecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs and organisms are never identical to other members of their class (not even in the case of “identical” twins). We are individualized right down to the chemistry of our blood and saliva. As a result, when it comes to living matter, averages don’t apply equally to all members of a given class. Individuality short-circuits the statistical methods of quantum physics, rendering inoperative the differential equations that “determine” ordinary physical processes. Physics is simply not equipped to bridge the gap between the homogeneous safety of atoms and the heterogeneous stew of organisms. 

As we learn from Ludwig von Boltzmann and the science of thermodynamics, physics can predict the motions of a cloud of gas taken as a whole but not the particles comprising it. So too, the interior of a cell consists primarily of free particles not subject to deterministic equations. The orderly processes that take place within cells are set against a backdrop of atomic and molecular randomness. With a trillion atoms per cell, many of them multi-bonding carbon, the number of possible molecular states compatible with the shapes and functions of a cell is far too great to yield to the yoke of mathematical physics. Though the patterned regularities of cells can be described in great detail, the ultimate origins of these processes are “buried in unfathomable complexity.” Elsasser declared biology a non-reductionistic science, “fundamentally and qualitatively different from physical science.”

Even if life really is reducible to physical principles, biological reductionism can be neither verified nor falsified and is thus not a theory in the scientific sense. Perhaps life emerged when God exhaled onto a lump of clay, but this too can never be proven or disproven. 

Rather than accept that physicalist biology has no scientific meaning, reductionists settled on a jerry-rigged substitute “theory” based around genes. That life is a product of physics is taken on faith while the multi-level ordering of the organism is attributed to DNA, which is charged with the dual task of storing morphological information and coordinating (via RNA and protein) development from egg to adult. In place of true physical reductionism, we have a stop-gap genetic reductionism. Yet even the watered down physics of life is untenable. 

By utilizing the mathematics of combinatorics, UC Berkeley biologist Harry Rubin has demonstrated that the precise combination of genes required for the mold Aspergillus to produce penicillin is “transcalculational, or beyond the computational capacity of any conceivable computer in a finite amount of time.” With 1000 genes influencing penicillin production — and each gene having, at the very least, alternate wild and mutant states — the minimum number of possible gene combinations is 2 to the 1000th power, or 10 to the 300th power. “The magnitude of this number can be appreciated when we consider there are only 10 to the 80th particles in the universe.” Yet the production of penicillin is a model of simplicity compared to the generation of the eye in the fruit fly Drosophila, which involves 10,000 genes. With two copies of each gene and multiple types of mutation for each, “the number of possible combinations grows beyond our imaginative capacity.” If organic structures really are built mechanically from genetic instructions, then genes must possess a magical power of computation. 

The Boltzmann theorem, which limits deterministic equations to statistical aggregates of molecular events, poses an insurmountable problem for genetic reductionism. Whether in a gas cloud or a living cell, a free molecule’s behavior is always unique and nonrecurrent. Between the genes in the nucleus and the tissues and organs they allegedly determine lies an ocean of chaos called the cytoplasm. Deterministic processes, such as enzyme-driven reactions, are like rafts tossed about on giant waves in the vast cytoplasmic outback, every causal chain bound by a terminal point beyond which nothing can be predicted. Even if genes could miraculously express their inner “blueprint,” this information would quickly be swamped by the molecular pandemonium. In contrast to computers, which are designed so as to maintain an acceptable signal to noise ratio, organisms have no means of insulating against noise, particularly inside cells. 

Oddly enough, instead of compounding the underlying error of physical reductionism, the error of genetic reductionism seems to cancel it out. Under the spell of DNA and its four nucleotide “letters,” we can’t see that the ground has dropped out from beneath our feet, leaving neither reduction of organism to genome nor reduction of cell to physics. The endless stream of wordlets formed from the combinations of a, c, g, and t c is a kind of incantation that keeps the mind frozen in reverential awe at the keepers of the keys and their magic code. The Human Genome Project, intended to explain the mystery of life, merely completed the catechism. 

This is not to deny the numerous effects that genes have on organisms. But the fact that genes distinguish one individual from another means only that they influence development not that they necessarily program and determine it every step of the way. That the gene-protein complex is necessary for the formation of organs and tissues doesn’t mean it’s sufficient. As embryologist Paul Weiss observed, it’s a long way from determining eye color to actually building a pair of eyes. If genes determine multicellular structures, then why, asked Weiss, does embryogenesis begin indeterminately, differing from case to case, as if each embryo must improvise as it goes along? And why does organic form emerge top-down? Only when the body as a whole begins taking shape do the outlines of its organs emerge, and only then do cells begin conforming to characteristic types — exactly the opposite of what we would expect from a process driven from within the dark recesses of our cells. As to DNA replication and other mechanical operations within organisms, Weiss contended that rather than controlling the living system, organic mechanisms are tools utilized by the system in its quest to maintain large-scale order in the face of small-scale disorder. 

This is what Darwin was getting at with his “coordinating power.” The organism operates holistically, much like a magnetic field. It also adapts holistically. As Rothman points out, adaptive qualities belong to organisms, not genes. It’s the organism as a whole that struggles to survive in the jungle or savanna, not genes tucked away in their cozy nuclear compartments. The question is not whether creatures pass on their living adaptations but how. 

Toward the end of The Origin of Species, Darwin takes Leibniz to task for alleging that Newton introduced “occult qualities and miracles into philosophy” with his theory of gravity. As with Faraday’s “undulatory theory of light,” which Darwin cites as a fine example of scientific detective-work, Newton’s theory of gravity suggests that matter possesses unexpected properties that do not conform to our standard notion of matter, i.e., contact mechanics. We’ve known since Einstein that electromagnetism and gravity both allow matter to act at a distance without material mediation. Elsasser suggests that an unforeseen property of matter enables organisms to receive hereditary information from their ancestors at a distance over time. He calls this holistic memory, as opposed to the artificial, information-storage “memory” in computers. 

The physics to which biology reduces itself is not the modern discipline of Einstein and quantum mechanics but the discredited variety that saw contact mechanics as the fundamental reality. Biologists today resemble theorists of the 19th century who still believed in a “luminiferous Êther” that mediated the propagation of electromagnetic waves through space. As physicist James Croll averred in 1867, “No principle will ever be generally received that stands in opposition to the old adage, ëA thing cannot act where it is not,’ any more than it would were it to stand in opposition to that other adage, ëA thing can not act before it is or when it is not.’” Having recognized that matter does indeed act “where it is not,” Elsasser began to wonder if it could also act “when it is not.” 

Apart from allowing the transmission of acquired characteristics, holistic memory disposes of the need for a blueprint. Instead of following a pre-planned design, the embryo merely mimicks the developmental steps of its predecessors. If all they must do is combine as they always have in a given situation, genes have no need for magical powers of computation. But this does not mean the behavior of organisms is reducible to a new kind of physical determinism based on holistic memory in place of contact mechanics. Between the randomness of molecular events and the necessity of physical law lies a probabilistic “gray area” in which an organism may choose to follow its memory or — if environmental conditions have changed sufficiently — to select a new course of action. By contrast, if every creature is deterministically bound to its species memory, all the genetic mutations in the world cannot give rise to evolution. Elsasser’s organismic selection is the logical counterpart to Darwin’s natural selection. 

Which option should cause us greater skepticism — that a human being is a robot constructed through blind forces of nature and operated by remote-control from the nuclei of its cells or that once again matter turns out to be more versatile than we’d previously imagined? Which is more plausible — that the memory of how to grow from an egg to an inconceivably complex living system is somehow encoded in our genes or that nature has its own form of memory? 

Darwin’s theory of evolution is true to life precisely because it shifts the focus from the timeless abstractions of physics to the irreducible powers of creativity and destruction that play out day by day in the natural world. As he wrote in the famous final passage of Origin, “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers…” such as growth, reproduction, variability, the will to live, and natural selection. Though he (tentatively) believed in a Creator who set it all in motion according to fixed, universal laws, in order to comprehend the ever-changing face of life, Darwin turned to Mother Nature. Instead of attaching biology to physics and thereby subsuming it to the Father’s mathematical idealism, he brought biology to life by animating it with a materialistic theory all its own. 

As he observed in a letter to his friend, geologist Charles Lyell, “it is absolutely necessary to go the whole vast length, or stick to the creation of each separate species.” It’s about time the Darwinian revolution was completed. Contrary to Weismann, not only can we conceive of alternatives to reductionism, but we have no choice, as the ghost of mechanism past will continue to haunt us until we reject mechanistic biology in all its forms.

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