Re: Wells and Nelson's article

Paul A. Nelson (
Wed, 31 Dec 1997 10:06:19 -0600 (CST)


The point of our article ("Homology: A Concept in Crisis," _Origins &
Design_ 18 [1997]:12-19) is that neo-Darwinists claim that homology
can be explained naturalistically, without recourse to design. The only
way a naturalistic explanation can succeed, however, is to provide a
naturalistic mechanism. Two such mechanisms have been proposed:
genetic programs and developmental pathways. Both proposals are
contradicted by the evidence; therefore, neo-Darwinism has failed to
exclude design as an explanation for homology. We do not offer a
detailed explanation for homology based on design, which will prove to
be a major research task, but merely suggest that, in the absence of a
demonstrated naturalistic alternative, design could be a fruitful way to
approach the issue. We hope to have more to contribute to this approach
in the near future.

For further reading on the problem of homology -- and why it poses a
problem for neo-Darwinism -- we recommend the following. None of these
articles was listed in our _Origins & Design_ survey, although each could
have been, along with dozens of others. Homology has re-emerged as
a major puzzle in biology. Articles marked with an asterisk are especially

Abouheif, Ehab. 1997. Developmental genetics and homology: a hierarchical
approach. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12:405-408.

*Bolker, Jessica and Raff, Rudolf. 1996. Developmental genetics and traditional
homology. BioEssays 18:489-494.

Cartmill, Matt. 1994. A Critique of Homology As a Morphological Concept. American
Journal of Physical Anthropology 94:115-123.

*Dickinson, W.J. 1995. Molecules and morphology: where's the homology? Trends
in Genetics 11:119-121.

Goodwin, Brian. 1993. Homology and a generative theory of biological form. Acta
Biotheoretica 41:305-314.

*Hall, Brian. 1995. Homology and Embryonic Development. Evolutionary Biology

*Harold, Franklin. 1995. From morphogenes to morphogenesis. Microbiology

*Muller, Gerd B. and Wagner, Gunther. 1996. Homology, Hox Genes, and
Developmental Integration. American Zoologist 36 (1996):4-13.