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Re Jerry S on Evolution

Aug 02, 1995 02:35 PM
by Murray Stentiford, Scientific Software and Systems Ltd

> modern chaos theory has addressed evolution and given it some
new and interesting views such as how complex systems
self-organize, and that the whole is more than the sum of its
parts. Also, a new view of evolution is growing in scientific
circles that rejects Darwin's survival of the fittest and instead
looks at symbiosis or mutual cooperation as the key ingredient
for how living beings evolve (the key scientific players here are
women, BTW).

That's good to hear. I think that natural selection of mutations
certainly happens, but is only one of several processes at work
in evolution. One I haven't heard mentioned yet but reckon has a
bit to do with it all is the fun factor. Watch kittens or lambs
at play, and recall that good feelings enhance physical health.
That would favour individuals and species that have more fun!

> Mainzer .... describes a chaos model approach to the human
brain and consciousness. He also points out that DNA cannot
possibly carry all of the instructions needed to form a working
brain nor could nature have had time to single out the complex
choices that are being made given the awesome number of
possibilities that exist ("The DNA molecule that comprises the
total genome of a single bacterial cell represents one or a few
choices out of more than 10 to one millionth power alternative
sequences. Obviously, only a minute fraction of all such
alternatives could have been tested by nature."

I suspect that the vast improbability estimated would be a lot
less if we looked at the evolutionary process as like some games
where, at each stage, only certain moves are possible, developing
a tree-like sequence of states with much smaller sets of choices
than if it all depended on random choices from a wide-open set.

There would be some kind of minimum-energy, highest-probability
pathway that is taken all the way along the path of evolution,
albeit in bursts of rapid change with long periods of slow change
between them.

Another factor could be the way life expresses itself at the
cellular level, even to the point where you could say individual
cells make choices. I'm thinking of the way certain cells in the
human embryo take off and migrate long distances to take up their
final positions and functions. Are they following some
attractive scent or electrical field or even an etheric beacon,
to a promised land, a wild west? The point being that adult
structure and function are not always rigidly coded in some
all-controlling information store like DNA.

Likewise, neural pathways are clearly not all programmed in the
DNA or anywhere else. Many are the result of growth under the
impulse of desire to learn a new skill and the efforts to do it.
How do they know where to go?

We're looking at the emergence of archetypes of form, viewed from
the underside. The panorama of the theosophical world view tells
us a great deal, but there are major gaps yet to fill.

Murray Stentiford

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