On the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA, science writer Dr Philip Ball wrote an article in Nature saying, “we do not fully understand how evolution works at the molecular level.” Ball referred to advances in understanding how DNA works to make organisms. The old idea of DNA comprising genes that are simple strings of DNA ‘letters’ that each makes an RNA copy, and then a protein, is simplistic—to the point of being misleading, he said.
He wrote of gene networks where many genes interact to produce something. Also, most of the DNA does not produce proteins directly, but regulates the production of proteins (where, when, and how much). There are also changes to the DNA structure, not the actual ‘letters’, which affect organisms, and are heritable (a relatively new field called ‘epigenetics’). This means that the prevailing evolutionary dogma — that organisms have evolved via mutations (random changes to the ‘letters’) sorted by natural selection — does not explain what scientists are discovering. This dogma is also known as Neo-Darwinism or the ‘Modern Synthesis’.
None other than the President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, Professor Denis Noble (Oxford University), has presented a paper where he set out to show “that all the central assumptions of the Modern Synthesis (often also called Neo-Darwinism) have been disproved.” Noble says he hopes for a new theory of ‘evolution’ that will explain the evidence.