As the old proverb has it, first they'll reject the truth and then they'll appropriate it and say they knew it all along. In the case of epigenetics, after resisting and rejecting it for a century—and holding back science in the process—evolutionists are now entering the “we knew it all along” phase.
In this latest version of Whig history evolutionists have a two-pronged canard. First, they say Darwin proposed Lamarck’s inheritance of acquired characteristics. It was temporarily set aside later due to a lack of scientific evidence, but now in the emerging field of epigenetics, we see Darwin was right all along.
Second, as more and more cases of directed adaptation can no longer be denied, evolutionists are now suddenly referring to it as a new version of evolution. Their old enemy is now their new toy. In fact it resolves so many quandaries. How did new species appear so suddenly in the fossil record? Well now we see evolution occurring before our eyes.
My gosh, evolution works even better than we ever imagined.
For example, one paper concludes that the directed adaptations brought about by a genetic modification “have clear evolutionary implications,” for “this mechanism can give rise to a selectable, coordinated set of mutations under particular environmental stresses that can result sizeable, rapid, adaptive evolutionary responses.”
An evolutionary response? How easily a failure becomes a friend. Never mind that it refutes evolutionary theory. We solved the protein folding problem didn’t we?
As for the other prong, it is a good lie because, like all good lies, it contains a grain of truth. Yes, Darwin proposed Lamarck’s inheritance of acquired characteristics, but only under duress. Darwin’s relationship with Lamarckism was complex. He privately castigated the French biologist’s ideas, but publicly employed them at his convenience.
One problem for Darwin was that the blending inheritance idea he used in his theory of evolution were being demolished, for example by Fleeming Jenkin. The problem was sufficiently troubling that Darwin resorted to giving a nod to Lamarck’s inheritance of acquired characteristics.
Darwin did not accept or advocate inheritance of acquired characteristics; rather, Lamarck’s idea was Darwin’s backup plan. The Monday morning claim that Darwin’s proposing of the inheritance of acquired characteristics was a serious theoretical move is absurd. It is Whig history all over again. You can read more about this here.
But that now is becoming the ever more popular claim of evolutionists. As epigenetics becomes increasingly undeniable—an idea that is the polar opposite of evolution—evolutionists increasingly are resorting to this two-prong canard: We knew it all along, and after all it’s actually just another mode of evolutionary change.
Nothing strange here, move along.
Consider a new paper out of Johannes Beckers’ group on transgenerational epigenetic change in mice. The research used in vitro fertilization to confirm that epigenetic inheritance of obesity and diabetes in mice is transmitted via the gametes, and not via other factors such as behavior of the parents or lactation.
It is yet another confirmation of how epigenetics works, and another opportunity to advance the canard. As Beckers absurdly claims:
From the perspective of basic research, this study is so important because it proves for the first time that an acquired metabolic disorder can be passed on epigenetically to the offspring via oocytes and sperm--similar to the ideas of Lamarck and Darwin.
There you have it—Darwin knew it all along.
Religion drives science, and it matters.