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From: "Dan'l Danehy Oakes" <DDANEHYO@us.oracle.com>
Subject: (urth) Lamark, Lysenko, Darwin, and Christ
Date: 08 Jun 98 09:19:56 

Hi --

One possible reason for Wolfe's holding to (some version of) 
Lamarckian evolution is (the Catholic version of) Christian theology.
It is absolutely central to (Catholic) Christian dogma that each and 
every one of us inherits from our first ancestors an acquired 
characteristic, that characteristic being "original sin," the result
of disobedience, the Fall.

Incidentally, I also hold to (a modified form of) Lamarckism -- and
_not_ only because of Catholic teaching, but also simple common 
sense.  Wolfe, here and there, tells an evolutionary fable about 
birds learning to build nests.  I don't know what I think of that,
but I sure as hell do know that each of us has a whole lot of 
inherited characteristics, which were _not_ passed on to us through 
our parents genes, but rather through their "memes" (to borrow
Richard Dawkins' semi-useful term) -- through language and culture.

Once upon a time someone found out how to keep a fire under control
in their cave or hut or whatever; this knowledge has been passed 
down and, indeed, has itself evolved until carefully-controlled 
fires run our planes, trains, and automobiles.  But "controlling
fire" is an acquired characteristic, and one that each new 
generation has to acquire -- but our acquisition is heritable, 
because we bypass genetic heritage and pass it on through the 
extrabiotic matrix of culture, language, etc.

The same holds true, to a lesser extent, for many prelinguistic
animals -- cats and birds can readily be seen teaching their 
offspring how to perform various survival-oriented activities.  
They, we, inherit the ability to teach and to be taught, but the
actual content of the teaching, the extrabiotic inheritance, is
inherited but always acquired.

Zat make sense?

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*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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