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  Epigenetics Richard
Posted: 24/3/2010
In the UK’s Guardian newspaper of the 19th March 2010 Oliver Burkeman has a piece entitled ‘Why everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong’. The article is in part based on a book by David Shenk called ‘The Genius in All of Us’. Research evidence is quoted which is claimed to show that genetic material , or at least the ‘switches’ which control the operation of genes, can be changed by life experiences and transmitted to offspring. An uncomfortable implication is that Lamarck might have had a good point after all.
Burkeman explains that the relatively new discipline of ‘epigenetics’ investigates the epigenome...’the protective package of proteins around which genetic material – strands of DNA - is wrapped’. It is the epigenome which ‘..plays a crucial role in determining which genes actually express themselves in a creature’s traits.’ Burkeman points out that the influence of the environment on the epigenome has been known for some time; the new factor is the evidence that changes to the epigenome can be inherited.
Burkeman goes on to relate that epigenetics is not the only current threat to standard Darwinism. It has been known for some time that the human genome consists of ‘virus-like’ materials. Research is cited which indicates that on average a bacterium may have obtained 10% of its genes from other organisms in its environment. Burkeman then points out that much of the world’s biological history thus far has been that of micro-organisms. A possible implication, he suggests, is that Darwinism applies only to recent times; it is feasible that in the earlier millennia ‘..most evolution was based on horizontal exchange.’
The strong suggestion is that, in the light of the above findings, the traditional version of the evolutionary story (‘random’ mutation, linear transmission and survival of the fittest) might need radical revision. Alphomism proposes that if such a revision is to come about, then scientists should, as a priority, take a look at the core concept of ‘random mutation’. As pointed out in ‘Alphomism and Modern Science’ (available free on this site – referred to below as AaMS) it is most extraordinary that scientists seem to be so blithely at ease with ‘causeless’ events which surely are the very antithesis of science.
The research summarised by Burkeman might offer an escape from the uncomfortable ‘random mutation’ position. However, as those who have read AaMS will know, Alphomism suggests that there are forces at work on gene-process modification which are much more subtle than diet or stress. It is proposed that some of the mutations might be triggered by forces (yet to be discovered) in dark energy. The rationale behind this bold claim is as follows.
Alphomism holds that prior to the big bang the universe was completely integrated in a subjectively timeless paradise state (Alphoma). The huge explosion caused vast disintegration and thus initiated a new phase called Nature. This is designed to lead, through an evolutionary process, to a gradual re-integration of energy. As complexity of organisation increases, so does consciousness. This progression culminates in a re-creation of Alphoma in which all conscious beings exist. The ‘two’ manifestations of Alphoma are completely identical and therefore are essentially one state. And because for the conscious beings within there is no objective time there is no perceptual break in our Alphoman existence.
If ‘permanent’ paradise is true, why does there have to be the turbulent and painful Nature phase?
The Alphomist response is that Nature has to exist for two reasons. Firstly the universal story has to contain opposites, for without these (light/dark, continuous/discontinuous etc etc) there could be no meaning. Secondly, the freedom introduced via the creation of opposites allows the development of willpower which, it is contended, is the ultimate driving force of the universe.
To ensure that the time-based journey from Alphoma, via Nature, back to Alphoma is safely completed we (all the conscious beings of the universe) ordain two levels of control, the first of which is a deterministic set of forces which guarantee the laws of nature. The second control is a probabilistic ‘nudging’ one which allows freedom but which overall ensures that, with permitted setbacks, evolution works reliably towards reintegration.
The suggestion that these controlling forces are mediated via dark energy might be taken to imply the existence of a deity but Alphomism repudiates the idea of an all-powerful, prayer-receiving god. Our Alphoman selves are the designers but for the time that Nature exists, Alphoma does not. There can thus be no communication between our two manifestations.
With the acceptance of caused genetic change there is no reason to abandon the principle of survival of the fittest. It is a simple but cunning mechanism which keeps evolution working in the direction of increased complexity and hence increased consciousness.
In his article Burkeman alludes to the terrible tensions between Darwinists and creationists. Alphomism contends that there doesn’t need to be this utter confrontation. As argued in AaMS, both religion and science are dogmatic (in quite similar ways – ‘infinity = god? for example) and neither could ever produce a comprehensive account of the universe. As so often in life, though, there is a view which ‘emerges’ from the dogmatic extremes and Alphomism is an attempt to provide this conciliatory perspective. Thus:
Guidance yes, god no; the design is ours.


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