of the Universe
Is there anyhow an Evolution?
The question either
there is an evolution in our existing universe, or things were just created
more or less as they are nowadays, it out of the scope of this site, and
can be found well documented on the WWW, e.g. at the Skeptics
Page. Here we consider the evolutionary hypothesis as a scientific
Linear or layered?
Most people, and
also some biologists, popular philosophers and futurologists consider evolution
as a vague, mere continuous increase towards complexity. They are impressed
by growing numbers, and by the apparently unlimited progress of scientific
knowledge and technology. This false impression is in part explainable
by the fact that some major evolutionists only consider one layer in this
evolutionary tree. E.g. Lamarck and Darwin,
just studied the evolution of the biological beings, nowadays considered
as layer 8 (the metazoa).
It was the contribution
of a Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), scientist and philosopher, to have discovered some of the
fundamental rules of cosmic evolution, especially its layered, phasic course.
But even if was the first, he was not the only to describe some fundamental
tendencies of the universe. The biologist
Huxley (1887-1975 ), the grandson of Thomas Huxley, Darwin's lifelong
friend, and first Director General of the UNESCO, formulated exactly the
same view, without any religious implication, while he was a convinced
agnostic. Recent publications (e.g. Lawrence
Spirit of the Internet, and Neo-Darwinism in general, add many
recent discoveries and views that confirm Teilhard's and Huxley's views.
Description, analysis and projection
In fact, evolutionary
theories consist of three consecutive domains:
1. An objective
description of the facts of evolution.
Because this description tries to be objective, only the facts are considered.
We are confronted with the observable quantitave aspects (i.e. complexification)
of the evolving universe. These three stages,
typical for every scientific research, are necessary, and the former stage
has to be completed before the next can be successfully undertaken. Sometimes
a non-integrative approach is made to analyse and hence to project future
stages of the evolution of the universe.
2. An analysis, from
the observed facts, of the tendencies of this evolution. This concerns first of all the tendecy to develop an
internal organization. Although this organization is partially observable
(e.g. DNA, the nervous system), the more general tendencies (e.g. the "need"
for complexification) are more hypothetical.
3. A projection,
based upon the tendencies, of the future
of the evolution of the universe, including the "near" future,
the end stage, and the things before and after the observable process,
including the Designer hypothesis.
The Academic Dilemma
1. Lovelock elaborated a theory about stage 9 of the evolution (the socialization,
labeled as "Gaia" hypothesis) only taking into account some analogies between
stage 8 (biological stage) and stage 9. Many tendencies of the former stages
of evolution, including the individuation tendency, were not taken into
account when he made his projections about the future of evolution on earth.
2. The übermensch
hypothesis, considering that the next stage in biological evolution will
be a genetically enhanced humanoid, and making the emergence of a better
world secondary to the creation, either by nature or by genetic
manipulation, of a better human race. This conclusion doesn't take
into account the universal tendency to a natural limitat each evolutionary
level, as soon as the next level develops.
3. Some scientists
simply jump stage 2 of the theory development ( a study of the tendencies
of the evolutionary process), and directly formulate conclusions about
the future of cosmic development and about the Designer hypothesis.
4. The search for
new baryons and atoms by high energy collisions (e.g. at the CERN), that
up to now only produced rapidly decaying structures (of the order of milliseconds),
is still hoping to discover one day more stable atoms and baryons, situated
in a so-called Island
of Stability. While this expected stability is now reduced to a
few minutes -millions of times longer than the typical results obtained
so far- the dream persists.
5. Leaving the field
of science, Science Fiction constructions about future civilisation(s)
only take into consideration technological progress. Man's mind is supposed
to keep all its primitive aggressiveness and self-centredness already encountered
in cave men, who only dreamed "to destroy the enemy", although this time
on a cosmic scale.
Renaissance. The Renaissance provoked a revolution in scientific progress,
not only by introducing a new mental approach (1. things are not necessarily
what they always have been told to be, and 2. man is able to understand
things hitherto unexplained), but particularly by introducing the exact
deductive control tool in scientific theories: scientific hypotheses have
to be controled by formulating predictions, checked with exact observation
and whenever possible with experiment. Both elements -a mental attitude
and an exact control tool- enabled a boom of science and technology since
four centuries, at elast in those fields where measures and controls are
But this change in
approach had also some deplorable side effects: (1) sciences, where exact
measuring and systematic experimentation where not possible, gradually
lost their qualification as scientific, and (2) scientists were
required to know ever more details about their knowledge field, and inevitably
tended to become hyperspecialized in ever more limited fields.
The days of the Homo
universalis were gone. Leonardo
da Vinci and Blaise
Pascal probably were the last ones. The qualification university went into an illusion.
and hence unexisting curricula. The problem is that for several important
scientific fields including cosmic evolution and general systems
theory, there simply is no scientifical university curriculum that
prepares you for such a research.
At the PCP
(Principia Cybernetica Project) website the question
is studied why general systems theory and cybernetics, the most interesting
part of it, didn't get the attention they deserve. The most important reason
therefore is perhaps the fact that there simply is no academic faculty
dedicated to a general scientific approach: Of course, one can think
about multidisciplinary teams. But as creativity is pre-eminently an individualistic
activity, a team can hardly replace it. Brainstorming is rather enhanced
reciprocal inspiration than collective creativity.
is the reason that cybernetics does not seem to get the popularity it deserves?
What distinguishes cyberneticians from researchers in the previously mentioned
areas is that the former stubbornly stick to their objective of building
general, domain-independent theories, whereas the latter focus on very
specific applications: expert systems, psychotherapy,thermodynamics, pattern
recognition, ... These applications attract attention insofar that they
are useful, concrete or spectacular. On the other hand, the aim of general
integration remains too abstract, and is not sufficiently successful to
be really appreciated.
But why then is
cybernetics less successful than these more trendy approaches? Clearly
the problem of building a global theory is much more complex than any of
the more down-to-earth goals of the fashionable approaches.
Inevitably, the sincere
impression of many scientists is that a project as an evolution theory transgresses the limits of scientific accountability. They react with suspicion
or incredulity when a scientist infringes the confines of his education.
When I asked
to a philosopher from Cambridge, which whom I had dinner a few years ago,
what he was thinking about the philosophical considerations of Julian Huxley
(whose brother was sitting at my other side), he answered me with an obliging
smile "Suppose I wrote a book on biology". As long as the universities
don't offer an academic training englobing all (nine --up to now) levels
of cosmic development, perhaps by a faculty of philosophy with an integrative
curriculum designed from scratch, this problem will persist, unless the
scientist trains himself in the academically neglected fields of education.