The Story of Evolution
and the Evolution of Stories

From Biological Evolution to Emergence
20 February 2007

The ongoing scientific story of biological evolution

Non-narrative kinds of story tellingDarwinian/evolutionary narrative story telling
  • individuals are members of invariant classes
  • invariant classes (and membership of individuals in them) are defined by essences
  • variation among individuals is of minor significance or irrelevant


  • change is toward "ever greater perfection"
  • change reflects individual and personal experience (Lamarck)
Population thinking and continuous largely undirected change
  • individuals vary in substantial and important ways
  • classes represent groups of individuals with common ancestry
  • classes change more or less smoothly and continously into other classes, with no sharp borders nor permanent characteristics
  • "organization" is a description of the present, depends on past, may be different in future
  • two factors contribute to that change:
    • random variation
    • differential reproductive success
  • therefore change has some direction (expansion) and some shaping (differential reproductive success)
  • would not come out the same way in detail if repeated, has no end state to be achieved .... is exploration of possible forms within some set of poorly defined constraints, is playful

More to story than descent with variance and selection ... a story in progress (there is certainly more going on)

Raised issues not only about past but about future (predictability? progress? purpose/meaning?).

"Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense -- an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection -- is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science" ... Christopher Schönborn, New York Times, 2005

Raises issues also about science, human life, literature ...

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