View by:  Subject  Theme  Question  Term  Person  Event

Criticisms of Genetic Reductionism Within Science

Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish GeneDawkins, R, The Selfish Gene (London: Paladin/Granada Publishing, 1978) p207 popularised a theory that the behaviour of whole organisms can be understood in terms of genes ‘seeking’ to reproduce themselves. The organisms themselves can be seen merely as ‘vehicles’ for the behaviour of genes. This ingenious way of thinking does explain certain elements of behaviour in certain organisms, but it does not do justice to evolution as a whole. Natural selection ‘sees a five-foot tall plant as a five-foot-tall plant, not as a five-foot-tall plant with genotype g ... phenotype will screen off any intrinsic property of the gene (or the genotype) from its level of reproductive success.’Brandon, RN, ‘Adaptation explanations: are adaptations for the good of replicators or interactors?’ in Evolution at a Crossroads ed. DJ Depew and BH Weber (Cambridge, Ma., MIT Press, 1985) p90...Or as Brian Goodwin colourfully puts it: ‘As the spots disappear, so does the leopard.’See Goodwin, B, How the Leopard Changed his Spots (London: Orion Bks, 1995) p28f - also Rose, S, Lifelines: Biology, Freedom, Determinism (London: Penguin, 1997) p213f and Rolston, H, Genes, Genesis and...

We are very far from being able to say that a particular gene directly codes for a particular human behaviour. Even behaviour with a strong genetic component is almost certain to derive from interaction between the products of many different genes. At the very most all we can say is that particular genes may have some effect on individuals’ predisposition to the learning of some life-patterns rather than others.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.