Week 1: Thoughts on Evolution

Breaking “Evolution” into a simple definition helped me focus my questions: “Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification.” This definition is easy to wrap my thoughts around.

Evolution helps us to understand the history of life and the interrelationship between all life forms.  It encompasses both small and large scale evolution and “animate” and “inanimate” life forms. It is a very spiritual theory and mirrors some of the greatest teachings of Taoism and Buddhism about the nature of reality:  which is that everything is in a state of change, about the interrelationship among all beings (inanimate and animate) or that we are all connected. Furthermore, evolution also shares the idea that all life shares a common ancestor.

Similar to Taoism, evolutionary theory looks at the patterns of the history of life and demonstrates that different species share common ancestors. By studying inherited species’ characteristics and other historical evidence, evolutionary relationships are reconstructed and family trees are represented.

I liked the section on “Looking at complexity” and linked the perspective about evolution as taking small steps forward through natural selection to our psycho/spiritual emotional development:  that it is incremental and small steps forward are important steps to our growth and maturity and not a degraded state of being “unactualized.”  The entire process of growth, from having no wing, to a half wing, to non-flying wings to an expansive set of high-flying wings is what makes life and “evolution” meaningful.  Even when we get to the later state, it is not understood as some final, unchanging state.  It is still full of possibility of growth and change.

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