BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Evolution


EVOLUTION: AN OVERVIEW

Evolution, also known as descent with modification, is the change in heritable phenotype traits of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including the level of species, individual organisms, and at the level of molecular evolution. All life on Earth originated through common descent from a last universal ancestor that lived approximately 3.5–3.8 billion years ago. Repeated formation of new species known as speciation, change within species, known as anagenesis, and loss of species or extinction, throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth can be inferred from shared sets of morphological and biochemical traits, including shared DNA sequences. These shared traits are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct a biological "tree of life" based on evolutionary relationships (phylogenetics), using both existing species and thefossil record. Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped both by speciation and by extinction. Although more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived on the planet are estimated to be extinct, there are currently 10–14 million species of life on Earth. for more of this useful overview go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

OUR SOCIALLY GIFTED COUSINS

Egyptian vultures, Galapagos woodpecker finches, sea otters, some gorillas, and above all chimpanzees resemble human beings in their ability to use tools. But for much of the twentieth century, the ability to make tools was thought to be a skill unique to man and distinctively a product of human intelligence. In 1960, a young British primatologist named Jane Goodall pushed humanity off this self-congratulatory pedestal. Through arduous field studies in the forests of East Africa, she observed chimpanzees stripping twigs to make rods for termite-fishing. Goodall owed the chance to make this seminal discovery to Louis Leakey, the white Kenyan paleoanthropologist who between the 1920s and his death in 1972 unearthed significant fossil clues to human ancestry. Beginning in the late 1950s, he also promoted the study of primates by others: Goodall with chimpanzees; Dian Fossey, the gorilla specialist; and, in Borneo, Biruté Galdikas, who studied orangutans. Leakey encouraged them, raising money for their work, and arranging official permission for their investigations from various East African governments. For more of this story go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/may/15/our-socially-gifted-cousins/

 A GUIDE TO THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERSIES

When Darwin(1809-1882) died a 130 years ago, he could reasonably have said, ‘Après moi, le déluge,’ a famous French saying translated several ways. I will use the fairly literal translation: "after me, the deluge."  This is due to the fact that we are still awash with books and ideas for, against and about him. The issue is intellectually enthralling, at least to some; it moves rapidly across a vast landscpae of ideas, and is of practical importance. The Monkey Puzzle is about the origin of man and, in particular, about the date when the line which led to us separated from that which led to chimpanzees & gorillas. There is a debate in progress as to whether this separation occurred four or 20 million years ago. Readers might like to start with these books: The Monkey Puzzle by John Gribbin and Jeremy Cherfas(Bodley Head, 279 pages, 1982; Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies by Michael Ruse(Addison-Wesley, 356 pages, 1982); The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution by Elaine Morgan(Souvenir, 168 pages, 1982); and The Neck of the Giraffe, or Where Darwin Went Wrong by Francis Hitching(Pan, 288 pages,1982)

EVOLUTION : SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Questions about human evolution and various other broad questions about evolutionary theory & answers are found at the following link. Stephen Jay Gould is a leading evolutionary theorist, despite being selectively quoted by enemies of evolution to present him as some sort of anti-evolution figure. He has written many engaging books for the general public on the topic. Especially recommended for beginners is a book he helped edit, The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth. It is in Owen Science Library. A good, though somewhat dated, overview of scientific views of human evolution is the six-part video series, The Making of Mankind, based on the work of Richard Leakey.The new PBS series Evolution is a little short on detail, but gives a highly dramatic overview of the subject . The first episode on Darwin is particularly good. It does not explore the fine points that would convince an open-minded disbeliever, however.

A second link which follows will take readers to a page which contains information or pointers to information created in response to questions people have asked in recent decades about a range of subjects. Evolution is just one of the subjects. There are many other subjects mainly from history in particular and world civilizations in general. I hope you find this material useful. Just read through the list of questions on the one hand, and subjects on the other, and you'll probably be able to identify: (a) the response to your question, and (b) some information that is relevant to an area of your interest in world civilizations. Here are the 2 links: http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/wcsyllabus/answers/evol.html  and http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/wcsyllabus/answers.html


HIGHER ORDER OF CREATION: EVOLUTION OF FORMS IN MY WRITING

There are very different views of life which cohabit in my mind and affect each other. My own personality asserts itself and gives each idea a place in some arrangement of subtle and not-so-subtle, indefinable and definable, common and quite individual peculiarities. Writing gives that peculiarity specific colouration. Reading affects this colouration, affects what cohabits my mind, and affects my imagination and emotions. It also affects my moral and religious experience as a whole. This is especially true of the Baha'i writings which have been part of my reading inventory for some 60 years.  

What I am trying to do in my writing, my poetry, is, among other things, to evolve a new form. This new form is spread over what often feels like a barren landscape of merely social and physical life. It is also spread over what is often a mantle of rich and varied vegetation as I try to transform the world by filling it with a higher order of creation, a creation of the mind.  In the end this poetry aims to perform a social and cultural function as it did for the Greeks and the Romans in classical times, and as it has done in all literary cultures for several millenia. -Ron Price with thanks to Patrick Deane, "A.D. Hope, T.S. Eliot and the 'Counter-Revolution' in Modern Poetry," Australia and New Zealand Studies in Canada 5(1991).

They've been writing about destinations
since Homer and that wisdom literature,(1)
trying to locate a safe, a golden, harbour,
in those seas of death and sunless gulfs of
doubt, trying to find someone to show them
the way to that perfect, glorious pilgrimage
and celestial Jerusalem, the new city of life.

To find that compass, level and true,
to find the rudder and reef the sail,
to find the port past waves and cruise,
for the toil and task they had to do,
to sail securely and safely reach
the fortunate isles and the beach.....

became for millions disillusion,
dissatisfaction not endangered,
just a goal, an empty zero, the
journey irksome and grotesque,
just some pleasure amidst the quest
and my ending is despair, unless
of course I be relieved by prayer.(2)

(1) term for certain books of the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastices, Psalms, Book of Wisdom, etc.
(2) Shakespeare, The Tempest, Epilogue.

Ron Price
22/9/'00 to 27/12/'13. 

HOMO SAPIENS AND HOMO NEANDERTHALENSIS

Archaeologists and physical anthropologists have long debated the evolutionary relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals, relying on the similarities and differences between their designs of stone artifacts and the shapes of their bones, with little real understanding of how these might have arisen. Interminable academic arguments have been swept away by the revolution in studies of ancient DNA, led by Pääbo (now at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig) and brilliantly recounted in his new book, Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes.

Pääbo has provided us with a fabulous account of three decades of research into ancient DNA, culminating in 2010 with the publication of the Neanderthal genome. It’s a story seen through his eyes. He describes how he began with secretive attempts to explore whether DNA would survive in an artificially mummified calf’s liver, and how he led a multimillion-dollar global research project to ascertain the genomes of ancient organisms. For a review in The New York Review of Books, 3 April 2014, entitled "Most of Us Are Part Neanderthal" by Steven Mithen, a review of the following two books: Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Pääbo(Basic Books, 300 pages); and The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals by Thomas Suddendorf(Basic Books, 400 pages)--go to this link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/apr/03/most-us-are-part-neanderthal/?insrc=toc


HUMAN UNIVERSE: WITH BRIAN COX

Human Universe is a British television series broadcast on BBC Two, presented by Professor Brian Cox. For a detailed outline of the content go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Universe.  Brian Cox reveals how the wonderful complexity of nature & human life is simply the consequence of chance events constrained by the laws of physics that govern our universe. But this leads him to a deeper question: why does our universe seem to have been set up with just the right rules to create us? In a dizzying conclusion Brian unpicks this question revealing the understandings, at least from the latest theories in physics and evolution, of how the universe came to be this way. In doing so, he offers a radical new answer to why we are here. 

Professor Cox also asks where are we in the Universe? What is our destiny and that of our planet? How did the human brain arise and why did we develop consciousness? Will our search for alien life be successful, or are we alone? The answers revealed in this landmark series offer an original new perspective on human life, combining dramatic specialist photography with innovative CGI all set in spectacular locations across the world as we explore the ultimate wonder of the universe: humanity. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the application of computer graphics to create or contribute to images in art, printed media, video games, films, television programs, commercials, videos, and simulators.

Beginning in Ethiopia, Cox discovers how the universe played a key role in our ascent from apeman to spaceman by driving the expansion of our brains. But big brains alone did not get us to space. To reveal what did, Brian heads out of Africa to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan where he unpicks the next part of our story – the birth of civilisation – and then on to Kazakhstan, where he witnesses the return of astronauts from space and explains what took us from civilisation to the stars. I have also placed this topic and this series in the physics sub-section of my website at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Physics.html  

THE COMPLEXITY OF HUMAN EVOLUTION

The depiction of human evolution as a simple linear affair is not only laden with historical baggage, it incorrectly portrays the true complexity of our past, argues Darren Curnoe. Linear depictions of human evolution are not only outdated they play into the hands of wannabe scientists. Now, not only is this a woefully outdated, laconic and highly inaccurate portrayal of our evolutionary history, it's one the plays right into the hands of wannabe scientists like creationists, showing our evolution to be a programmed series of steps leading inevitably to humankind. This ridiculously simple image would also have appealed to the racialist anthropologists who dominated my field during the 19th and, sadly, a good part of the 20th Century — scientists like Samuel Morton, Carlton Coon and many other race supremacists. We might well also ask the obvious question: what happened to the other 50 per cent of humanity, womankind? There's more than a hint of Genesis (2:23) about it: "this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman because she is taken out of Man." But, what I don't really get is why this kind of drivel still pervades the internet well into the 21st Century and even on some pretty reputable sites that claim some kind of authority on evolution. So, what's the truth about how we evolved? How should we be portraying the broad sweep of our evolutionary history? For more on this subject go to:http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/06/24/4027999.htm

EVOLUTION: complexification and expansion

"Life as an evolutionary process has two general properties: complexification and expansion." Such is the view and the opening sentence of Joseph Kirby's article "The Spiritual Meaning of Technical Evolution to Life," in the online journal Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy(Vol. 9, No. 1, 2013). Kirby shows how these properties have enabled life to grow over the surface area of the earth, and he considers what it would mean to view technology as an aspect of these same processes. He argues that there are 2 senses in which technology can be seen as a new layer of living complexity. First, Kirby points out, biological systems can only appropriate 24 of the 91 natural elements into their metabolic processes, but technological systems can imbue complex form into all 91 elements.  His second main point is that this added capacity gives life the potential to expand across its current limit – the atmosphere of the Earth – in the same way as it expanded from the oceans to the land some five hundred million years ago. Readers with the interest in this aspect of evolution can go to:http://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/291/537

ENIGMA MAN, NEANDERTHAL MAN, INTER ALTER, THE OUT OF AFRICA THEORY, THE AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION: some notes

Part 1:

What I have written about in the following three paragraphs is keeping the fields of physical anthropology and paleo-anthropology very busy these days. Paleoanthropology is understood to mean a particular type of study of humanity, a study which combines the disciplines of paleontology and physical anthropology. It is the study of ancient humans as found in fossil hominid evidence such as petrifacted bones and footprints. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoanthropology

New research confirms the "Out Of Africa" hypothesis that all modern humans stem from a single group of Homo sapiens who emigrated from Africa 2,000 generations ago and spread throughout Eurasia over thousands of years. These settlers replaced other early humans, such as Neanderthals, Enigma Man, and other species. Interbreeding with them may have taken place.  But this "out of Africa" thesis has its challengers.

Part 2:

The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6200-year-old grave at a prehistoric town by the Euphrates river in Syria may be the first evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to disease burden, according to new research. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by several species of flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. The agricultural revolution seems now to be a process that emerged by degrees from approximately 20,000 BP to 10,000 BP

Enigma Man: A Stone Age Mystery was a doco televised at 8.30 pm on Tue 24 Jun ABC1. It is about Australian and Chinese scientists who uncover strange ancient human remains from a remote cave in South West China and are confronted with a shocking possibility. Could these bones represent a new human species? You can access the link at:http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/trailer-enigma-man-a-stone-age-mystery/MP1425H042C00DS1


BRIAN COX AND THE UNIVERSE

Human Universe is a British television series broadcast on BBC Two, presented by Professor Brian Cox. The series is in 5 parts, as follows:
1. "Apeman - Spaceman", 2. "Why Are We Here?", 3. "Are We Alone?",  4. "A Place in Space and Time", & 5. "What is Our Future?" Last night, 1/2/'15, I watched #4 which was first broadcast on 28 October 2014 on BBC Two.  In this program Professor Brian Cox explores our origins, place & destiny in the universe. He describes the initial conditions of the human psyche as one that places itself at the center of the universe, surrounded by family, environment, and events. Brian tells the story of how our innate human curiosity has led us from feeling that we are at the center of everything, to our modern understanding of our true place in space & time - that we are living 13.8 billion years from the beginning of the universe, on a mere speck of rock in a possibly infinite expanse of space. For a summary of this series go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Universe

The story begins with Brian climbing to the summit of the fortified village of Ait-Ben-Haddou in the foothills of Morocco's Atlas Mountains. Here he demonstrates how the stars' motion across the night sky appears to make our central position self-evident. Thanks to the artisan glass-blowers of Renaissance Venice, Galileo was able to build the first telescope and discover our orbital position around the sun--relegating us to just one among a number of planets and effecting our demotion from the center of the universe.

For more on Cox & his TV programs go to: http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2014/oct/05/physicist-brian-cox-interview-human-universe For a review, a critique, of this program in The Guardian on 14/10/'14 go to: http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/oct/14/brian-coxs-human-universe-presents-a-fatally-flawed-view-of-evolution The critique begins: When I watched the first episode of Human Universe, a televisual emission on the BBC presented by the ever-lovely Professor Brian Cox, I held my breath. I am usually allergic to tales of The Ascent of Man, but I thought, & I hoped, that we’d outgrown the idea of evolution as a linear narrative leading from archaea to astronauts.

FLYING MONSTERS

Part 1:

Flying Monsters is a natural history documentary about the pterosaurs. It was written and presented by David Attenborough and was produced by Atlantic Productions for Sky 3D. Originally broadcast on Christmas Day 2010, it was the first 3D documentary to be screened on British television and was released in theatres and IMAX cinemas the following year. I watched it on SBSTV on 23/2/'14. Flying Monsters went on to become the first 3D programme to win a BAFTA award.  The doco begins 220 million years ago when dinosaurs were beginning their domination of Earth. But another group of reptiles was about to make an extraordinary leap: pterosaurs were taking control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastical than any fiction.

In Flying Monsters 3D, Sir David Attenborough the world’s leading naturalist, sets out to uncover the truth about the enigmatic pterosaurs, whose wingspans of up to 40 feet were equal to that of a modern day jet plane. The central question and one of the greatest mysteries in palaeontology is: how and why did pterosaurs fly? How did creatures the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies? Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough starts to unravel one of science’s more enduring mysteries, discovering that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today. Flying Monsters 3D is a groundbreaking film that uses cutting-edge 3D technology and CGI to bring the story of giant flying monsters and their prehistoric world to life. 

Part 2:

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles of the order Pterosauria. They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period (228 to 66 million years ago. Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight. Their wings were formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the ankles to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger. Early species had long, fully toothed jaws and long tails, while later forms had a highly reduced tail, and some lacked teeth. Many sported furry coats made up of hair-like filaments known aspycnofibres, which covered their bodies and parts of their wings. Pterosaurs spanned a wide range of adult sizes, from the very small Nemicolopterus to the largest known flying creatures of all time, including Quetzalcoatlus andHatzegopteryx. For more on the pterosaurs go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterosaur

Archaeopteryx lived in the Late Jurassic period around 150 million years ago, in what is now southern Germany during a time when Europe was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm tropical sea, much closer to the equator than it is now. Similar in shape to a European Magpie, with the largest individuals possibly attaining the size of a raven. Archaeopteryx could grow to about 1 ft 8 in in length. Despite its small size, broad wings, and inferred ability to fly or glide, Archaeopteryx has more in common with other small Mesozoic dinosaurs than it does with modern birds. In particular, it shares the following features with the deinonychosaurs(dromaeosaurs and troodontids): jaws with sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, a long bony tail, hyperextensible second toes ("killing claw"), feathers (which also suggest homeothermy), and various skeletal features. For more on this "first bird" go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeopteryx


Part 3:

David Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies continues his search for flying animals, exploring the rise of a new wave of larger fliers: monstrous winged reptiles, feathered dinsaurs, birds and bats. This is a 3D British natural history television series tracking the evolution of flight in animals. David analyses gliding reptiles, parachuting mammals, acrobatic insects and the exquisite and intricate aerial world of birds. For a detailed outline of this program which went to air on 15/1/'15 go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Attenborough%27s_Conquest_of_the_Skies_3D I saw the program in Tasmania one month later on 15/2/'15. I have placed this program under the "evolution" part of my website because, on watching the program, I was strongly aware of the evolutionary aspect of the presentation.

For a chronological list of television series & individual programmes where David Attenborough is credited as writer, presenter, narrator or producer go to the following link.  In a career spanning seven decades, Attenborough's name has become synonymous with the natural history programmes produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. This is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Attenborough_filmography

RECAPITULATION

I quote and paraphrase in the following short paragraph from the online electronic journal Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 1, 2012, and an article entitled: GOD’S UNLIKELY COMEBACK; EVOLUTION, EMANATION, AND ECOLOGY by Seán O Nualláin at this link:http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/262/447


"As humanity, and I, attempt to become more integrated self-systems, slowly, infinitely slowly, in a highly complex process, perhaps we are recapitulating a path that multicellular organisms took when their differentiation into multi-sensory systems required integration as “consciousness." And now, in these very recent years of the 21st century, the greater informational complexity & consistency of the more refined arts and sciences is providing a similar goad or stimulus to greater heights of integration in our age and epochs.  Finally, the emergence of the internet allows the dissemination and production of fine art and science, and it is by no means impossible that a whole new definition of 'livelihood' and 'work' is imminent."

SINGLE-CELL TO MULTI-CELL ORGANISMS

The following several paragraphs could be included in the biology sub-section of this website. I include them here in this website's evolution sub-section to illustrate the complexity referred to in the quotation above.  In all my 18 years of formal education in schools, colleges and universities, 1949 to 1967,  I studied biology only in my last years of primary school and first years of high school, circa, 1957 to 1960, more than 50 years ago.  I am a generalist; all my formal education has been generalist in content. There was, beginning in my first year of university in 1962/3, a strong tendency, a bias, toward the social sciences, and a far lesser involvement in either the humanities or the sciences. I began to take the humanities and sciences seriously as an object of study when I was a primary and then a high school teacher, 1967 to 1973.  As a teacher in universities and colleges, the social sciences continued to be my main-focus, but the humanities assumed a greater place than it had when I was a student.

In the years 1999 to 2005 I gradually retired from FT, PT and casual work as a teacher and lecturer.  Beginning in 2006 I began to make-up for the immense gap in my knowledge base in the humanities and the sciences.  After 8 years, 2006 to 2013, I have just scratched the surface. One of the scratches are found in the paragraphs below.

Single-cell organisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, have been so successful in adapting to a variety of different environments that they comprise more than half of the total biomass on earth. Unlike animals, many of these unicellular organisms can synthesize all of the substances they need from a few simple nutrients, and some of them divide more than once every hour. What, then, was the selective advantage that led to the evolution of multicellular organisms?

A short answer is that by collaboration & by division of labor it becomes possible to exploit resources that no single cell could utilize so well. This principle, applying at first to simple associations of cells, has been taken to an extreme in the multicellular organisms we see today.  Multicellularity enables a plant, for example, to become physically large; to have roots in the ground, where one set of cells can take up water and nutrients; and to have leaves in the air, where another set of cells can efficiently capture radiant energy from the sun. Specialized cells in the stem of the plant form channels for transporting water and nutrients between the roots and the leaves. Yet another set of specialized cells forms a layer of epidermis to prevent water loss and to provide a protected internal environment (see Panel 1-2, pp. 28-29). The plant as a whole does not compete directly with unicellular organisms for its ecological niche; it has found a radically different way to survive and propagate.

MULTI-CELLULAR TO MULTI-SENSORY ORGANISMS

The wealth of diverse specializations to be found among the cells of a higher animal is far greater than any procaryote can show.  A procaryote is a organism whose cells lack a membrane-bound nucleus or karyon. The organisms whose cells do have a nucleus are called eukaryotes. The hypothesized process by which prokaryotes gave rise to the first eukaryotic cells is known as endosymbiosis, and certainly ranks among the most important evolutionary events. Go to these two links for more background knowledge: http://www.explorebiology.com/documents/ReviewAP/07ClassificationList.pdf , and http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Evolution/Endosymbiosis.htm

In a vertebrate more than 200 distinct cell types are plainly distinguishable, and many of these types of cells certainly include, under a single name, a large number of more subtly different varieties.  In this profusion of specialized behaviors one can see displayed, in a single organism, the astonishing versatility of the eucaryotic cell. Much of our current knowledge of the general properties of eucaryotic cells has depended on the study of such specialized types of cells, because they demonstrate exceptionally well particular features on which all cells depend in some measure. Each feature and each organelle of the prototype is developed to an unusual degree or revealed with special clarity in one cell type or another. To take one arbitrary example, consider the neuromuscular junction, where just three types of cells are involved: a muscle cell, a nerve cell, and a Schwann cell.


HUMANITY STILL EVOLVING?

Sir David Attenborough says humanity has put a halt to its own species' natural selection. Like Prof Steve Jones before him, Sir David Attenborough has argued that humanity has now escaped nature's clutches, and we have now stopped evolving. Masters of our own destiny, as a species we have confronted the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and emerged victorious. So have we, in Attenborough's words "put a halt to natural selection", the major force of evolution, which drives adaptation, creating and destroying exquisitely variable species at its whim? The short answer is "no". In fact, there is not a population on the planet that is free from the forces of nature in this way, and in fact it is hard to imagine how there ever could be.

At a British science festival event on Sunday, Attenborough joined a group of four evolutionary scientists who presented their latest research to an audience of festival attendees, from whom they took an array of enthusiastically proffered questions. The panelists had specifically set out to address the question: "Are we still evolving?" The conclusion, from all four of the group, was a resounding yes. For more on this theme go to:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/10/david-attenborough-humans-still-evolving

A SOMEWHAT PESSIMISTIC BUT
   VERY HUMOROUS VIEW OF EVOLUTION

I have a humorous video on the subject of evolution, and readers can click on the link below. It was sent to me by a "Naomi Goldrei." Her name is in the top left-hand corner of the access page of this link. This video is not the last word on the evolutionary process, but it certainly contains content guaranteed to give you a good laugh. I thank Naomi, a Sydney lady, now retired, for her prolific internet video-hunting and the sharing of her findings with others. Go to this link. I hope it does not drop-out:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1433e889d418dac1

THE TERM 'EVOLUTION' APPLIED TO MANY THINGS



The term 'evolution' is applied in many situations: (1) a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form; (2) a. the process of developing, b. gradual development, 3. biology a. change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species, b. the historical development of a related group of organisms; phylogeny; 4. a movement that is part of a set of ordered movements; 5. mathematics the extraction of a root of a quantity. 

The book A Co-operative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis(Princeton, 262 pages, 2011) was reviewed in the London Review of Books two years ago(Feb. 2012). That review begins as follows:  "How is it that the members of a species as greedy, quarrelsome, egoistic and deceitful as ours still manage to live together in societies sufficiently harmonious and orderly not to be constantly breaking apart? Mid-20th-century sociologists used to call it ‘the problem of order’, which many of them saw as constituting the raison d’être for the academic discipline of sociology. But they didn’t have much success in solving it. The ‘structural-functionalists’, who stressed the normative and integrative aspects of human social organisation, were answered by the ‘conflict theorists’, who stressed the constant struggles between incompatible ideological and material interests. Politics came into it too, as sociologists for whom the US was the showpiece of enlightened liberal democracy clashed with others for whom it exemplified unbridled competition, entrenched racism and the systematic exploitation by the rich of the poor." For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n04/wg-runciman/altruists-at-war

NO STRUGGLE TO INVENT: EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE


Chaucer had a simplicity and directness of style. He was able to step into a child’s mind and an adult’s; indeed, he could take on the life, the mood and the personality of anyone or anything he knew or could know. That is the basis of the vividness, the individuality of his characters. He pleads authenticity, faithfulness to actual life and speech.-Ron Price with thanks to Collier’s Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Oh Father of English poetry-
the King’s English-when English
was finding its East Midland dialect
and first being used in Parliament,
some six hundred years ago, whose(1)
poetry was in the language of the man-
in-the-street, with simplicity, naturalness,
freshness and vitality—which we have
recently rediscovered in our time and
which I strive for in my poems and in
what I write of history and character in
my pioneering tale, pilgrimage-like across
the world, painting realistic portraiture, &
no struggle to invent, only to suit simple
purpose and pleasure, just like Chaucer?

Ron Price
25 May 1997 to 19 November 2011

(1) George H. McKnight, The Evolution of the English Language: From Chaucer to the Twentieth Century, Dover Publications Inc., NY, 1968(1928), p. 18.


Other people's sites who want to be linked with mine:

http://www.darwiniana.org

EVOLUTION IN OTHER CONTEXTS

I could add the results of cognitive neuroscience, drawing on memory research, sleep research, cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, to add an evolutionary history of fictional cognition to my own autobiography as Wordsworth did to the origin and development of his work. An accurate, honest and successful unfolding of the imagination, one could argue, is only possible when accompanied by adequate monitoring systems. An author must possess the capacity to distinguish between what originates in his perception and what is the response of his memory. The resulting tapestry must be sufficiently complex to permit the formulation of a hypothesis about the self which may not be scientifically tested but at least possess some sweet reasonableness.

In a commentary on the first period of his literary composition Wordsworth wrote that his autobiographical self-as-being arose as a virus within his source monitoring system. This investigation by Wordsworth of his early years is a complex one and I don’t want to go into any more detail here. I find the same is true of the origins of my own imaginative function: its unfolding is complex. And the monitoring systems that existed at the time of its earliest unfolding are difficult to trace. I hope that readers find at this website at least some of that sweet reasonableness even if I do not elaborate on the theme I have introduced here dealing with imagination and memory.

100 MILLION SPECIES OF ORGANISMS

Biologists estimate that there are about 5 to 100 million species of organisms living on Earth today. Evidence from morphological, biochemical, and gene sequence data suggests that all organisms on Earth are genetically related, and the genealogical relationships of living things can be represented by a vast evolutionary tree, the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life then represents the phylogeny of organisms, that is, the history of organismal lineages as they change through time. It implies that different species arise from previous forms via descent, and that all organisms, from the smallest microbe to the largest plants and vertebrates, are connected by the passage of genes along the branches of the phylogenic tree that links all of Life.(1)

In the broadest of senses, then, my autobiography would be one encompassing all of life. I must, of necessity here, limit my analysis and discussion. I do some assimilation: the personal to the historical, the individual to the societal, the psychological to the sociological. I tell what certain events have meant to my mind and my heart, events in the Baha’i community and the wider society, but I do not tell what I think should have been done. I do, though, point the way, attempt to engage serious minds whereever I can to the unity, the universality and the new ethos, the new system of values inherent in Baha’u’llah’s vision that are relevant to the challenges of the next stage in human and social development on the planet.(2)---(1)Tree of Life Project, 1995-2004, and (2)Douglas Martin, “Humanity’s Coming Encounter With Baha’u’llah,”


THE ARCTIC

Like deserts, frozen places offer timelessness. When I was living on the southeast corner of Baffin Island in 1967/8 I often had that sense of timelessness.  I have since learned that core samples of ice from Greenland’s glaciers, the source of many icebergs, provide scientists with data on global climates and atmospheres going back more than a hundred thousand years. There are bubbles in glacial ice from two millennia ago which contain lead residues from the forges of ancient Greece and Rome. Greenland was just across the bay, Baffin Bay, from the town I lived in, now known as Iqaluit.

The Arctic took me back, then, even as it does now, to old-time basics, like Vulcan’s anvil and the foundation blocks of the world.  In that little town in the late 1960s where I taught primary school,  I climbed a hill and met a view of rock, sea, and sky that was, for all practical purposes, eternal. For one of the first times ever in my young life, I had a sense of what it was to stand on the planet. I did not find it that comfortable, though, because it was always cold, and I also had a great deal of anxiety in my private-public life at the time. That the Arctic environment is so basic and its timeline so long---suggests the direness of the possibilities as the climate warms. The mess we’re making of the earth may last, as Bill McKibben put it in a recent essay, until “deep in geological time.” For more on this subject go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/mar/07/beautiful-threatened-north/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=February+19+2013&utm_content=February+19+2013+CID_59c0be5a594ffdee88690c9ad2b3026d&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=In%20the%20Beautiful%20Threatened%20North

AGREEMENT ON PRINCIPLES AND HUMANITY'S FUTURE


The Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, my role models, indicate that there is a map for my journey, humankind’s journey; there is a goal in the journey and vague sentiments of good will, however genuine, are not enough. The map and the goal has been elaborated in the first century and a half of the existence of these Figures and their authorized interpreters, in a massive body of print. My role models circumambulate, skirt around this body of print. I could, and I do, select scientists and writers in the arts for my models and many do serve as such models for the exercise I am involved with. Some of those that have made a sustained effort at popularizing science and literature and commented on a larger scene, a large sphere, and created a significant niche have played an important part in the evolution and elaboration of my own ideas, values and beliefs. But these people from the sciences and arts are not my models for fundamental philosophy and value systems that I share with others in community, that are my reasons for community. For agreement on principles in writing what I write comes from community and, even when there is agreement on principles, coordinated action is not easy.

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: LIFE

Part 1:

The Life Collection is a 24-disc DVD box set of eight titles from David Attenborough's 'Life' series. The Life series was, and is, part of the BBC's natural history resource base going back now for decades. This series was released more than 7 years ago in the UK on 5 December 2005. It has also been made available on Region 4 DVD in Australia and New Zealand. This series, or at least parts of it, could be placed in the biology and botany sub-sections of my site. I've seen the series twice now in the last seven years and I don't even have the 24-disc DVD box set.


First Life sees Attenborough tackle the fascinating subject of the origin of life on Earth. This program, televised again on ABC1 on 23/12/'12 from 5 to 6 p.m., would have been very useful when I taught anthropology or, indeed, when I was either a student or teacher of any one of several of the social sciences over the decades from the 1950s to the 2000s. The visual resource-base for teachers has multiplied many fold since I retired from the teaching world.

Part 2:

Attenborough investigates the evidence from the earliest fossils. These fossils suggest that complex animals first appeared in the oceans around 500 million years ago, an event known as the Cambrian Explosion. Trace fossils of multicellular organisms from an even earlier period, the Ediacaran biota, are also examined by Attenborough. Attenborough, as naturalist, travels to Canada, Morocco and Australia, using some of the latest fossil discoveries and their nearest equivalents amongst living species to reveal what life may have been like at that time. Visual effects and computer animation are used to reconstruct and animate the extinct life forms. This feature alone makes viewing of this series just about compulsory for all students interested in the evolution of life.

The Cambrain Explosion is central to this program.
The Cambrian explosion, or Cambrian radiation, was the relatively rapid appearance, around 530 million years ago, of most major animal phyla, as demonstrated in the fossil record. It was accompanied by major diversification of organisms including animals, phytoplankton, and calcimicrobes. Before about 580 million years ago, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years, the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude, as defined in terms of the extinction and origination rate of species. The diversity of life began to resemble that of today. Readers can go to this link for an excellent overview of that event:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_explosion

The series was directed by freelance film-maker Martin Williams; it was produced by Anthony Geffen, CEO and Executive Producer of Atlantic Productions, with whom Attenborough has collaborated on a number of 3D documentaries for the satellite broadcaster Sky. It was produced in association with the BBC, the Discovery Channel and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. During production, it had the working title The First Animals. Attenborough's Journey, a documentary film profiling the presenter as he journeyed around the globe filming First Life, was shown on BBC Two on 24 October 2010, more than two years ago now.  A hardback book to accompany the series, authored by Matt Kaplan with a foreword by Attenborough, was published in September 2010. In December 2011, a second series of First Life was announced by media website Realscreen. The new series will focus on the evolution of the earliest fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, and is expected to air on the BBC in 2013. For more details on this program and this series go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Life_%28TV_series%29


ATTENBOROUGH AND THE GALAPAGOS

Galapagos 3D is a nature documentary series written and presented by David Attenborough and filmed in 3D. Attenborough returns to the Galápagos Islands for the fourth time in his career and travels throughout the archipelago to explain their origins and their unique fauna in evolutionary terms. The series premiered on 1 January 2013 on the Sky 3D network in the UK. A 2D version retitled Galapagos with David Attenborough was simulcast on Sky One, attracting 563,000 viewers. The making of the series was documented in the accompanying programme Making Attenborough's Galapagos. The program came to Australia on 10/3/'13. Go to this link for more:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galapagos_3D

A THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE ON EVOLUTION

For what it’s worth, since I accept that all things share a common ancestor, substance, or attributes, Unific Evolution is, to my understanding, a religious, theological, or metaphysical perspective on evolution. The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother. “An Introduction to Evolution.” Understanding Evolution: Your One-Stop Source for Information on Evolution, University of California Museum of Paleontology. Roy Caldwell and David Lindberg, principal investigators. 2012. I retrieved this information on July 26, 2012.


Evolution can be broken down into two categories: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution refers to changes in a population’s gene pool that lead to somewhat small changes in organisms in that population. The changes are small enough that they adapt the organism to the environment but the organism is still that same organism and not a whole new species. Examples of microevolution would be changes such as the color or the size of a species from generation to generation. In contrast, macroevolution refers to changes in organisms that over time will create a whole new species. This would mean if we were able to bring together an organism of the new species and one of its ancestors, they would not be able to mate. An example of macroevolution would be the appearance of feathers during the evolution of birds from a group of dinosaurs.---Microevolution vs. Macroevolution. AndysEvolutionWiki. 2012. Retrieved on September 12, 2012.

Speciation is the development of one or more species from an existing species. See Elizabeth Martin and Robert Hine, A Dictionary of Biology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 2008.

ALL LIFE EVOLVED

All life on Earth evolved from a single-celled organism that lived roughly 3.5 billion years ago, a new study seems to confirm. The study supports the widely held “universal common ancestor” theory first proposed by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago....Biochemist Douglas Theobald also tested the creationist idea that humans arose in their current form and have no evolutionary ancestors. "The statistical analysis showed that the independent origin of humans is “an absolutely horrible hypothesis,” Theobald said, adding that the probability that humans were created separately from everything else is 1 in 10 to the 6,000th power.

Ker Than, “All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds.” National Geographic. Daily News. May 13, 2010. Retrieved on July 22, 2012. All of the physical and spiritual attributes of one or more essences, as in the essence of humanity, are acquired by beings and things throughout their general evolution and their specific development. Because essences are unknowable, scientific explanations of physical and biological origins, or of any other empirically observable object, will inevitably be limited. All beings, whether large or small, were created perfect and complete from the first, but their perfections appear in them by degrees. The organization of God is one; the evolution of existence is one; the divine system is one. Whether they be small or great beings, all are subject to one law and system....In the same way, the embryo possesses from the first all perfections, such as the spirit, the mind, the sight, the smell, the taste—in one word, all the powers—but they are not visible and become so only by degrees.

Similarly, the terrestrial globe from the beginning was created with all its elements, substances, minerals, atoms and organisms; but these only appeared by degrees: first the mineral, then the plant, afterward the animal, and finally man. But from the first these kinds and species existed, but were undeveloped in the terrestrial globe, and then appeared only gradually. For the supreme organization of God, and the universal natural system, surround all beings, and all are subject to this rule. When you consider this universal system, you see that there is not one of the beings which at its coming into existence has reached the limit of perfection. No, they gradually grow and develop, and then attain the degree of perfection.--ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 199.


INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETATION: NOT AUTHORITATIVE

Shoghi Effendi wrote: "I feel that regarding interpretations of verses from the Scriptures, no one has the right to impose his view or opinion and require his listeners to believe in his particular interpretation of the sacred and prophetic writings. I have no objection to your interpretations and inferences so long as they are represented as your own personal observations and reflections. It would be unnecessary and confusing to state authoritatively and officially a dogmatic Baháʾí interpretation to be universally accepted and taught by believers. Such matters I feel should be left to the personal judgement and insight of individual teachers. -Shoghi Effendi, The Destiny of the British Baháʾí Community. April 6, 1928. Page 423.


THE FIRES WILL RAGE
AMIDST
A WONDERFUL AND THRILLING MOTION

Part 1:

In his The Metaphysical Club Louis Menand writes: “the Civil War discredited the beliefs and assumptions of the era that preceded it.” It had taken a century or more to build American culture and it took nearly half a century for the United States to “develop a culture to replace it, to find a set of ideas, and a way of thinking, that would help people cope with the conditions of modern life.”(1)Menand follows the lives and ideas of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., William James, Charles S. Peirce, and John Dewey during the shaping of this new basis for culture. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, 2001.

A similar thing happened after WW1 and WW2. Traditional belief systems took a hammering, a hammering from which they have not recovered. In the sixty years since WW2 there has been a long series of episodic crises, another sort of destruction, far more drastic than those of the earlier wars or so American writer Henry Miller argues. “The whole planet,” wrote Henry Miller, is in “the throes of revolution. And the fires will rage until the very foundations of this present world crumble.”-Ron Price with thanks to Henry Miller in The Phoenix and the Ashes, Geoffrey Nash, George Ronald, Oxford, 1984, p. 55.

Part 2:

A wonderful and thrilling motion,
quiet and undisturbed as a seed is
permeating the whole world. I am
caught in the net of its influences
and forces like the infinite immensity
of the stars which brighten the sky
and I have only to exist, simply but
ardently, persistently, pervasively
as the dust of that threshold which
covers the earth and my eyes take it
in--this visible ground, soil, always.

I desire not to be at rest1 in anything
save that net of forces for the greatest
drama in the world’s spiritual history
is taking place as we build a world
and our eyes soon to be filled with
dust as we hasten away to the country
of light and will, in generations yet
unborn, learn to behold that light
in a gleaming City, white, past
imagining, with labour put away,
and pain, and an evanescent grace
with June forever as we walk
through a door where we will attain
all good ness and astonishment.2

1 Letters of R.M. Rilke: 1892-1910, J.B. Greene, trans, W.W. Norton and Co. Inc., NY, 1945, p.316.
2 Roger White, “Last Words,” One Bird, One Cage, One Flight, Naturegraph, 1983, p. 127.

Ron Price
April 15th 2006

SUZUKI BEGINS TO TRAVEL BY BROADCASTING IN 1962
I BEGIN TO TRAVEL TOO

Part 1:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBC, was finally linked from coast to coast and the first science programs were televised. My parents had sold our TV by the mid-fifties when I was still in primary school to help keep my mind focussed on my studies and not on the box. When David Susuki made his broadcasting debut in 1962, therefore, I knew nothing about him. He was not a part of my world back then in 1962/3. I was working on my grade-13, my matriculation studies, in Ontario. Nine matriculation subjects consumed my mind and emotions from September 1962 to June 1963.

When I began my travelling-pioneering life for and in the Canadian Baha’i community that same year the future celebrity-environmentalist was nowhere to be seen: environmentalism was not on my agenda. My small town perspective in southern Ontario was filled to overflowing with: school's encompassing agenda, a repressed-suppressed libido, until the summer of '62 sport: on the mound, at the arena, and on the box, as well as an embryonic, a developing enthusiasm for a new world religion.-Ron Price with thanks to cbc.ca internet site, “CBC TV History,” 23 October 2010.

I enjoyed listening to you today, David,
talking about that most quintessential
interdependence and interrelationship
between all forms of life on our planet.

They will one day realize these relationships
to the full extent of their capabilities; all of the
species are subservient to the requirements of
all the natural processes that sustain all of life.

Hence:

.....the world requires a federal system ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, & bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of the one source of Life and by its allegiance to our common humanity. Such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving. The pessimist, or perhaps I could call him or her 'the practical-realist' sees such an achievement as impossible, I could encourage this particular variety of realists to go to this link for some of the writings of the paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin

Part 2:

Who can doubt that such a consummation, the coming of age of the human race, must signalize, in its turn, the inauguration of a world civilization such as no mortal eye hath ever beheld or human mind conceived? Who is it that can imagine the lofty standard which such a civilization, as it unfolds itself, is destined to attain? Who can measure the heights to which human intelligence, liberated from its shackles, will soar?

Science and religion, the two most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will cooperate, and will harmoniously develop. The press will, under such a system, while giving full scope to the expression of the diversified views and convictions of mankind, cease to be mischievously manipulated by vested interests, whether private or public, and will be liberated from the influence of contending governments and peoples. The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be coordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.

National rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will cease, and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by racial amity, understanding and cooperation. The causes of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated. Destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear.

EVOLUTION AND HISTORY

The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race.(2)  --Ron Price with thanks to (1)David Suzuki on “The Science Show,” ABC Radio National, 23 October 2010; and (2)Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Baha'u'llah, Wilmette, p. 204.

“The more we ponder the matters of evolution and history,” wrote Teilhard de Chardin in his book The Future of Mankind,(1) “the more must we realize that, scientifically speaking, the real difficulty presented by Man is not the problem of whether he is a center of constant progress: it is far more the question of how long this progress can continue, at the speed at which it is going, without Life blowing up upon itself or causing the earth on which it was born to explode. Our modern world was created in many ways since the neolithic revolution, the revolution in agriculture in the years 11,000 to 8000 BCE.  In about 10,000 years, and even moreso in the past 200 years, it has changed more than in all the preceding millennia. Have we ever thought of what our planet may be like, psychologically, in a million years’ time?  It is finally the Utopians, not the ‘realists’, who make scientific sense. They at least, though their flights of fancy may cause us to smile, have a feeling for the true dimensions of the phenomenon of Man.”(1)Harper and Row, 1959.


THE PHENOMENON OF MAN

Part 1:

This book was published the year I joined the Baha'i Faith at the age of 15.
The Phenomenon of Man (Le Phénomène Humain, 1955) is a book written by French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In this work, Teilhard describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness. The book was finished in the 1930s, but was published posthumously in 1955, and in English in 1959. The Roman Catholic Church considered that Teilhard’s writings contradicted orthodoxy and initially prohibited their publication. However, later statements by officials such as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have been more supportive of de Chardin's work.  The foreword to the book was written by one of the key scientific advocates for natural selection and evolution of the 20th Century, and co-developer of the modern synthesis in biology, Julian Huxley.


In 1961, Nobel Prize-winner Peter Medawar, a British immunologist, wrote a scornful review of the book for the journal Mind, calling it "a bag of tricks" and saying that the author had shown "an active willingness to be deceived": "the greater part of it, I shall show, is nonsense, tricked out with a variety of metaphysical conceits, and its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself". In the June 1995 issue of Wired, Jennifer Cobb Kreisberg said "Teilhard saw the Net coming more than half a century before it arrived". Kreisberg continued: "He has inspired Al Gore and Mario Cuomo. Cyberbard John Perry Barlow finds him richly prescient. Nobel laureate Christian de Duve claims his vision helps us find meaning in the cosmos. Even Marshall McLuhan cited his "lyrical testimony" when formulating his emerging global-village vision. Whom is this eclectic group celebrating? An obscure Jesuit priest and paleontologist named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose quirky philosophy points, oddly, right into cyberspace."

Part 2:

"Teilhard de Chardin finds allies among those searching for grains of spiritual truth in a secular universe. As Mario Cuomo put it, "Teilhard made negativism a sin. He taught us how the whole universe - even pain and imperfection - is sacred." Marshall McLuhan turned to Teilhard as a source of divine insight in The Gutenberg Galaxy, his classic analysis of Western culture's descent into a profane world. Al Gore, in his book Earth in the Balance, argues that Teilhard helps us understand the importance of faith in the future. "Armed with such faith," Gore writes, "we might find it possible to resanctify the earth, identify it as God's creation, and accept our responsibility to protect and defend it."


Teilhard imagined a stage of evolution characterized by a complex membrane of information enveloping the globe and fueled by human consciousness. It sounds a little off-the-wall, until you think about the Net, that vast electronic web encircling the Earth, running point to point through a nerve-like constellation of wires. For more on this go to:http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.06/teilhard.html, and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phenomenon_of_Man