I am a University student and I have an interest in evolution. Over the past few months I have been emailing many scientists (biologists and ecologists etc) as I believe that evolution has moved beyond the neo-Darwinian paradigm.
Now this is quite a confusing subject, becuase I have recieved a mixed response from different scientists. Some admit to me that neo-Darwinism is outdated and incomplete whilst some others still represent that view.
Eugene V. Koonin in his book 'The Logic of Chance' (The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution) is critical towards neo-Darwinism or 'Modern Synthesis' as they call it and he sees a totally new paradigm shift developing in evolution. The American biologist James A. Shapiro author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century has also said the same thing. Some other scientists have also told me by 2020 they see neo-Darwinism as totally dead.
What is to be said about this? Any scientists actually in the field here can they confirm any of this? Thanks.
I also suggest you read the following papers to see just some of the scientists who want to move beyond neodarwinism:
Eugene Koonin, in his research paper, titled "Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics", published 12 Feb 2009, says:
"Now, 50 years after the consolidation of the Modern Synthesis, evolutionary biology undoubtedly faces a new major challenge and, at the same time, the prospect of a new conceptual breakthrough"....."By contrast, the insistence on adaptation being the primary mode of evolution that is apparent in the Origin, but especially in the Modern Synthesis, became deeply suspicious if not outright obsolete, making room for a new worldview that gives much more prominence to non-adaptive processes"......"Collectively, the developments in evolutionary genomics and systems biology outlined here seem to suggest that, although at present only isolated elements of a new, 'postmodern' synthesis of evolutionary biology are starting to be formulated, such a synthesis is indeed feasible. Moreover, it is likely to assume definitive shape long before Darwin's 250th anniversary"
Michael R Rose and Todd H Oakley, in their research paper, titled "The new biology: beyond the Modern Synthesis" published on 24 November 2007 wrote that The last third of the 20th Century featured an accumulation of research findings that severely challenged the assumptions of the "Modern Synthesis" which provided the foundations for most biological research during that century. The foundations of that "Modernist" biology had thus largely crumbled by the start of the 21st Century. This in turn raises the question of foundations for biology in the 21st Century".
Soft inheritance: Challenging the Modern Synthesis Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb
This paper presents some of the recent challenges to the Modern Synthesis of evolutionary theory, which has dominated evolutionary thinking for the last sixty years. The focus ofthe paper is the challenge of soft inheritance - the idea that variations that arise during development can beinherited. There is ample evidence showing that phenotypic variations that are independent of variations in DNAsequence, and targeted DNA changes that are guided by epigenetic control systems, are important sources ofhereditary variation, and hence can contribute to evolutionary changes. Furthermore, under certain conditions, themechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome. These discoveries are clearly incompatible with the tenets of the Modern Synthesis, which denied any significant role for Lamarckian and saltational processes. In view of the data that support soft inheritance, as well as other challengesto the Modern Synthesis, it is concluded that that synthesis no longer offers a satisfactory theoretical framework for evolutionary biology.