Tuesday, February 24, 2009

two views

Charles Darwin's theories have been characterized as survival of the fittest, but if you take an honest view of life, you see that that those who survive are those best suited to fit a cooperative framework, each part in some way sustaining and nourishing the others. Human beings have grown in an ever expanding circle of cooperation, or at least did so until recently. Throughout millions of years of "primitive" existence men recognized relationship with the other living things as being sacred. We grew from family to tribe to nation state and now to internet global economy, each part in some level of sustained but sometimes strained cooperation. It is now time to remember what was forgotten... Our sacred relationship with all species of the planet, and our responsibilities as guardians of all life. That sounds like a daunting task. To move from the selfishness of the me first Reagan era to a new level of world-wide sensitivity and cooperation. But remember that we have the full thrust of evolution on our side, a billion year momentum toward ever widening spheres of cooperation. In that we have the power and potential to awaken to greater consciousness.

What we face at this moment has been called a convergence of crises. Economic collapse and global warming. Things may not look good. But we are at our best when the most is required of us.

Today in the woodshop at Clear Spring School, the first and second grade students will make friendship boxes and the 3rd and 4th will finish their models of the solar system and do projects from paper sloyd.

2 comments:

Steve Caldwell said...

Doug wrote:
-snip-
"Charles Darwin's theories have been characterized as survival of the fittest, but if you take an honest view of life, you see that that those who survive are those best suited to fit a cooperative framework, each part in some way sustaining and nourishing the others."

Doug,

It probably isn't accurate to portray a gross over-simplification of Darwin's theories as his theories.

Natural selection operates through a simple algorithmic mechanism that follows from the following facts:

1. Heritable variation exists within populations of organisms.

2. Organisms produce more offspring than can survive.

3. These offspring vary in their ability to survive and reproduce.

Given enough time and this simple process, one ends up with both great beauty and great cruelty in the natural world. In some cases (for example, humans and other primates), this simple process produces cooperation and social interaction.

"Survival of the fittest" doesn't preclude cooperation within species. Nor does it preclude cooperation between species. In many cases, cooperation is the more fit approach.

The three steps in natural selection are mindless but they have produced both mindfulness and awareness in our world - perhaps the ultimate demonstration of evolutionary biologist Leslie Orgel's "Second Rule" that he coined in response to anti-evolutionary appeals to irreducible complexity:

"Evolution is cleverer than you are."

Doug Stowe said...

"Evolution is cleverer than you are."

And in that we can find hope.