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 Evolution of Evolutionary Theory

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Evolution of Evolutionary Theory   Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:25 am

EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY


The current issue of SKEPTIC Magazine* has an article on the "New Evolutionary Synthesis" by professor of Evolutionary Biology, Massimo Pigliucci. He discusses the pending emergence of a new evolutionary paradigm. It's not actually a revolutionary paradigm shift, but an extension of the 20th century "Modern Synthesis" (DNA, genetics, statistics) to include some newer 21st century ideas, such as Epigenetic Effects, Emergence Theory, and Complexity Theory. The extended theory offers some additional mechanisms in addition to Darwinian Natural Selection and Mendelian Genetics. The latest Evo terminology includes, Evolvability, Capacitance, Epigenetics, Phenotypic Plasticity, and Emergent Complexity. Yet, this is not a sign of upheaval in Evo Theory, but of progressive and complexifying evolution in understanding. I bring this up because these cutting-edge concepts fall right in line with my own personal evolutionary extension theory of Informationism, which adds Information Theory to the mix, and extrapolates the controversial idea of "Intelligent Evolution".

In that same issue there is a report of a behavioral/psychological survey of Creationism and Evolution Beliefs Among College Students.This article divides respondents into three basic categories of belief: A> Natural Evolution, B> Guided Evolution, and C> Creation** . Generally speaking, A is the mainstream science position (Darwinian Selection), B is the liberal religion position (Intelligent Design), and C is the conservative Christian position (Young-Earth Creationism). The Intelligent Design view is an attempt to reconcile Biblical Revelation with Scientific Induction, via such mechanisms as 1> initial creation plus 2> natural evolution plus 3> incremental (progressive or gap) supernatural intervention. Although well-intentioned, this compromise still seems to be too convenient and complicated for my taste. That's why I developed my own compromise, which leaves-out the divine Monday-morning quarterbacking, and 20/20 creative hindsight. It clears the slate of contradictory or outdated beliefs on the subject by omitting any ancient scriptural evidence from consideration---except as evidence of the historical varieties of religious beliefs.

In an essay entitled Intelligent Evolution, I proposed an alternative hypothetical evolutionary scenario. It begins with a point of creation in/of time loosely consistent with both the metaphorical Genesis account, and the technical Big-Bang theory, and with the Greek First-Cause/Prime-Mover philosophies. The middle act of this creative process unfolds according to all the natural laws, constants, and contingencies discovered by Post-Enlightenment Science. The third act of the divine play has yet to be enacted, so we can only guess where it will end. The Creator and Cause of the Reality we know is presumed to be an anonymous, eternal "entity" equivalent to most traditional concepts of God, apart from any specific mythical or legendary or anthropomorphic attributions. By eliminating those out-dated metaphors of divinity, we are now free to develop our own 21st century analogies and metaphors by which to grasp for a handle on that elusive entity of eternity, which is logically necessary, but practically unknowable.

Anything eternal---by definition---must be as whole, perfect, complete and finished as possible. But since we find ourselves immersed in a flowing, and incomplete, procession of time and expansion of space, we can only conclude that a partial, imperfect, incomplete, and unfinished state of existence is possible somewhere within the scope of eternity and infinity. So from those seemingly incompatible, but necessary concepts, we must contrive an understanding of how our world really works, and what we can expect to happen next. From experience we know that any long-range prediction is doomed to big-time failure. So our theories and projections must remain modest, in order to be helpful in negotiating the unforseen events that hurtle at us, suddenly and without warning, out of the unknowable black-hole of the Future. Some theory or map of evolution is mandatory, so lets try to make sure it's as accurate, adaptable, and up-to-date as possible. The imperfect, and incomplete concepts of Intelligent Evolution and Informationism are my modest contributions to the never-ending human quest for knowing where we came from, where we are at, and where we are going.


* SKEPTIC volume 14, Number 3, 2008

** Origin of Human Life: Natural Evolution 36.2%, Guided Evolution 21.6%, Creation 41.6%.
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