A – Biological self-organization

Evolutionary transitions instead of revolutions

Did humans create civilization and discover all its technology? Or, did evolution and life’s patterns provide avenues into which human behavioral adaptability stumbled? In my estimation the former of these is the default answer of most of us and even of evolutionary theorists. However, it is hard to answer with the second option above since it has hardly been explored. My own answer is the second of these, and I want to do as much as possible to investigate this alternative in order to put the two choices above at least on an equal footing.

The upshot of this second option is that recent human evolution signals an incipient and huge pattern change in evolution on the order of the formation of some type of superorganism. The collective dynamics such as the obvious massive coevolution with domesticated species herald an unknown pattern such as a super-society of multiple species. Instead of “revolutions” like the

The Chemical Side of Evolution

While the winds of change are stirring across evolutionary theory, there is larger, long-term current of change approaching from chemistry. The chemists have a claim that chemical evolution is the real basis of evolution while species evolution is a secondary process (Williams & Frausto da Silva 2006; Williams & Rickaby 2012). At the same time there are many origin-of-life researchers who are studying how prebiotic chemistry could lead to life, and they are making rapid progress. They are effectively studying a chemical evolution that occurred for hundreds of millions of years before the first cell or before any life as we know it. And some of these same researchers see the species concept as a secondary phenomenon to the biosphere as a whole (Smith & Morowitz 2016).

Most of us assume that chemistry is what living organisms use for their lives. This suite of ideas from chemical evolution, biosphere primacy, and prebiotic chemistry sees evolution as a big, changing current driven by energy that gets its chemical energy organized and partitioned by different forms of life. Chemical evolution is seen to be primary, and the evolution of organisms or

Winds of Change

Evolutionary theory is in growing ferment. And few people are paying attention. At least two biologists have shouted from megaphones. Biologist Robert Reid in his 2007 book screamed about the need for a new synthesis. He talked about how many issues across biology at that time that he listed as “[p]ost-Lamarckism, structuralism, complexity theory, the lucky-strike paradigm of neo-catastrophism, evo-devo, and symbiosis studies.” He then went on to warn that: “But their individual adherents, whether modern mutineers or postmodern privateers, lack the resolve to escape the vortex of Darwinism. If they do not all hang together in a new synthesis they will all hang separately, to be scavenged by the Modern Synthesis, stuck in the hold, and forgotten.” (Reid 2007, p. 422).

Another biologist, Scott Turner, in 2017 is equally distraught. He states that: