I can't see Darwin's theory working that well in the 20C.
I believe the “Theory of Evolution” remains sound. Organisms with traits that allow them to reproduce will continue, while those that do not will not. The details are … complicated.
Has anyone ever though virus's may have their own agenda?
Many people have thought it – some have even written good (IMHO) fiction about it, such as Greg Bear in his Darwin’s Radio
novels (soon to be a cable miniseries!
As intriguing as these ideas are, scientific rigor requires we ask if any virus – the genetically largest of which has a 10^8 dalton genome that can code perhaps 200 proteins - has adequate biological machinery to have
It’s also significant to consider evidence that indicates that viral evolution may occur as much or more in reproductively dormant viral DNA segments within host cell DNA as it does “in the field” in free-roaming, cell-invading, reproducing viruses. (this by-no-means accepted theory is the basis of “Darwin’s Radio”)
… or that modern medicine may have skewed the Whole Harmonious System?
Practitioners of modern medicine (a community of which I consider myself a non-clinician member) are very aware of this possibility.
A major problem with which modern medicine must contend is the acquisition of resistance by disease-causing organisms to drugs. For a couple of decades, the medical community of clinicians and research pharmacologists have had a strong suspicion that the “arms race” of developing increasingly effective antibiotics to kill pathogens with increasingly broad resistance is a dangerous game that ultimately can only be lost, and refrained from pursuing it. IMHO, the greatest resistance-increasing problem in medicine now are a failure to educate clinicians to refrain from unnecessary prescription of antibiotics, and a failure to educate patients in the importance of completing a prescribed course of antibiotics, rather than stopping when their symptoms clear up.
I think random appropriation of interesting genes via bacteria and viruses and blind luck,is a better explanation of evolution than Darwin's Natural Selection. (you can include a bit of it in the 20c mix) It is far too simple and neat a theory.
I don’t think this randomness you describe is incompatible with the theory of natural selection.
It’s important, I think, to keep in mind how little was actually known about the number, structure, and mechanics of genes, and their relationship to observable traits, when Darwin’s theories came to be widely accepted in the mid-to-late 19th century. In light of what we know now, some of the writing of Darwin and his contemporaries seems naive, simplistic, and in some cases, just plain wrong, because they were, just as, in light of future increases in knowledge of molecular biology, much current writing will appear to future readers. This is how science works.
What about vaccination for say smallpox, how is this "natural selection"?
How does IVF gel with Darwin?...
I think a naturalist of Darwin’s day and mindset would consider these to be environmental factors, similar to those experienced by species that become geographically isolated on very hospitable islands. They may well produce a strange population, which may be less able to adapt to sudden change, such as those brought on by the sudden loss of modern medicine due to war or economic depression.
How is this preparing us for the rise of the eventual super bug?
”The eventual super bug” is an interesting meme, which, IMHO, had its ultimate cultural expressions in Frank Herbert’s less-well-known-than-“Dune” 1982 novel ”The White Plague”
, and Stephen King’s 1978 ”The Stand”
(though the scientific seriousness of “The Stand” was reduced by its strong supernatural themes).
The 1970s and 80s were heady times for molecular biologists. The idea that the molecular manipulation they were doing was so unprecedented that a small accident or act of malice might wipe out a whole species, or even all life, didn’t seem as outlandish as it does now. One of my most vivid memories of that period is a phone call I received from my PhD-holding research microbiologist cousin, warning me of open-air testing being done near me, and suggestion I take a vacation until it was clear the local ecology hadn’t spiraled into deadly chaos.
By the late 1980s, fear of accidental artificial biological was mostly passed from popular thought, but in its place was fear of biological weapons designed by the US, USSR, or other technologically sophisticated militaries. This worry was more persistent, because real and imagined secrecy about such research made it difficult to convincingly argue that an artificial “super bug” capable of wiping out all human life didn’t actually exist, locked away in a top-secret military facility.
With the ending of the cold war in the early 1990s, and continuing to today, the fear of extinction-capable biological weapons seems to have given way to a fear of naturally-occurring “super bugs”, of which H5N1 “bird flu”
is the latest well known candidate.
In short, in light of increasing knowledge of molecular biology revealing how difficult it is for a natural or artificial pathogen to actually extinguish a species, I question if a “super bug” is eventual, or even possible.
Of course if you question Darwin you are immediately branded a religious fundamentalist...
If you question any scientific theory in a scientifically defensible manner (as Michaelangelica is doing), scientifically-literate people will brand you … a skeptical, scientific person.
Keep up the good work.
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