Deliberate conscious evolution

Arlin Stoltzfus arlin at is.dal.ca
Fri Mar 15 11:19:51 EST 1996


jiturner at k12.ucs.umass.edu (Jill Turner (Mohawk Trail RHS)) wrote:
>
>	I would like to know if anyone out there has encountered any
>unorthodox theories of evolution.  This could be anywhere from the ideas
>of Rudolplh Shledrake to   Lamarkck.  I somehow am unable to believe that
>such an elaborate process that came up with such complex forms as ourselves
>happened purely by random genetic mutation.  Does any one else think
>this?

I agree, as do many others, that complex natural order could 
not possibly arise merely by "random genetic mutation".  Two 
general types of ordering forces have been proposed, internal
forces (inherent properties of biological or physical systems)
and external forces (imposed by the environment).  Before
there were realistic theories, in the 18th century, biologists
argued about which one dominated-- form or function, internal
or external.  Lamarck's
theory employed both internal and external forces.  The 
theory of Darwin proposed that the external forces (causing
function) were mediated through "natural selection". 

Unfortunately, many of the "internal forces" theories throughout
history have been mystical vitalist nonsense (i.e., organisms
have an inherent tendency to climb the ladder of life and
thus become closer to God and angels).  However, there
has nevertheless been alot of interesting work in the area
of internal ordering forces, e.g., D'Arcy Thompson.  The most 
recent vocal advocate of looking for order in systemic properties 
is Stuart Kauffman (The Origins of Order).  

Of course, there need be no conflict between the two views.  
Natural order may arise both through an external force like 
natural selection, and through the expression of  systemic 
properties.

Unfortunately, the Darwin view is not the "unorthodox" theory 
that you describe, and there are many orthodox aspects of
Kauffman's view.  Why are you specifically interested in an 
unorthodox view?  Why not benefit from 100 years of previous
scholarship on evolution?     

Arlin Stoltzfus (arlin at is.dal.ca)
Department of Biochemistry
Dalhousie University
Halifax, NS  B3H 4H7 CANADA
ph. 902-494-3569; fax 902-494-1355





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