Evolution of Evolution

Evolution of Evolution

Politics and Theories of Chance and Determinism

By Heidi Hileman


Queen Elizabeth - Charles Darwin

Queen Elizabeth I of England ascended to the throne in 1558. The last women of sole political power had been a Greek Egyptian Pharaoh named Cleopatra in the mid-1st century B.C. She reemerged in the 16th century as Elizabeth I. Her century is marked by the break away of Protestant churches from the authority of the Pope, whose Catholic authority had been instituted by the sword of the French King, Charlemagne, in the 8th century. Elizabeth was raised during intense religious strife between the Catholics and Protestants. She began her reign with rejections of marriage alliances with Spain, France and English nobles to rule as the Virgin Queen. As Queen she managed to pass a unification act that created a single Church of England that excluded papal authority. Elizabeth, however, seemed to be more enchanted with the arts encouraging the works of Shakespeare.

Elizabeth has to be one of the luckiest Queens who ever lived. While being a caring monarch, she had inherited a destitute country torn by religious civil war and her country desperately needed time to heal. The Spanish were not happy with England's exploration of the America's. The Spanish lead by Columbus had arrived first in America and eventually Spain had had enough when a revolt broke out against Spanish controlled ports in the Netherlands, aided by the English who had refused to align themselves with Spain. King Phillip II of Spain dispatched a fleet of ships, the Armada, in June of 1588 to blockade the northern harbors. The English fought back against the blockade; though the English had only a destitute navy, they did have home ground advantage, so there were give and takes on both sides. The deciding blow came, however, with a terrible storm in August that broke Spanish moral and sent only 67 ships out of 130 back home to Spain.

How different life might be if the Spanish had won or even if a long seize had prevented the English from settling North America before the Spanish. Would we now be speaking Spanish in North American instead of English. I doubt the United States as we know it with its constitutional democracy would have been created by the Spanish for they had a strong faith in divine order. It was their belief in Catholicism that had driven the Moors out and reestablished Spain as a world power, creating a Spain who had become extremely wealthy through dominance on the seas. The Spanish had lost more than sunken ships that could have easily been rebuilt with their wealth, but it was a loss of faith in the power of providence to protect the defense of their faith. Least the Protestants claim in was an act of God on their behalf, Queen Elizabeth reign had been spared and her reign was one of the worldliness and individuality, a journey that had begun with the signing of the Magna Charta in 1215. The Puritans felt the forces that had protected Elizabeth were evil and after Elizabeth's death sought to rid England of artistic corruption. Moderate protestants eventually gained control and some of the Puritans fled to New England and eventually innocent women were hanged for being witches. In the states Thomas Jefferson sided with the libertarians and wrote the Declaration of Independence with a stated a belief in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But perhaps it would be wise not to assume it was a libertarian wind either. Life and order are also virtues which necessitates a written constitutional to maintain civil liberties. Perhaps it was just an unexpected hurricane, a random anomaly that happens in nature from time to time.

It certainly was the way Darwin saw the evolution of life in the 1860's when he published case studies to prove species mutated. It is important at this point, however, to emphasize that Darwin's first chapter in his book The Origin of Species is on domestication. But in the absence of domestication, life becomes an accident. A roll of the dice from which fitness would determine the outcome. How picky have his critics been over his choice of the word fitness. Certainly goodness should have been stated rather than fitness. But what is fitness? It could be goodness. Jesus, however, died despite his innocence with the advancement of the Roman military might; even though Rome too eventually crumbled, but for them it was corruption from within. What of England, are they the most fair of all people because God had destroyed their enemies with a mighty storm? Or are we, as evolutionary theory states, a connected human race, connected through our ancestry with the chimpanzees. Even more troubling for many, is in the absence of human domestication does not God have a role in determining the destiny of man. But what is God. There are so many definitions of God or Goddess today that the very act of defining it can leave people arguing about a person's rights of worship which puts God in the realms of choice and individuality.

Darwin theories today are used in medicine to understand and care for the natural evolutionary development of the body from birth to death, and to stop unwanted mutations such as deadly bacteria, viruses, and cancer that prematurely destroys the body. When we are sick and visit a physician, we are generally not in the mood for a moral examination before the doctor will treat our illnesses. Many illnesses are a product of chance and those that are our fault, the lectures can wait until we are on the mend. Darwin is used in biology in the development and care of new crops, livestock and personal pets. It makes one wonder if the Kansas School Board of Education decision to make the teaching of evolutionary theory voluntary, believes in educating farmers. Perhaps they want to return to the Garden of Eden by allowing natural selection to have its way without care for domestication.

Darwin is also used in reconstruction of history. This is generally where the problems begin with creationists and their interpretations of the Bible. Genesis has a creation myth that has a seven day time limit on it. One interpretation is that each day is a thousand years. Another interpretation is the earth was created in a shorter time frame than would allow natural selection to have happened, therefore the earth must have been created by divine order. Radio-isotope dating shows that multi-cellular organisms to have existed for over 700 millions years which does allow natural selection to have been at work. It was actually Thomas Henry Huxley in 1863 in Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature who suggested that man evolved from Apes. Current genetic testing has shown that our closest relative is the chimpanzees. This is another supposed contradiction of the Bible because Genesis says Adam was created from the dust of the earth, which creationists interpret as Adam being created separate from the animals in a single act of creation. This scripture could just as easily say be interpreted as Adam evolved from dust to single cell to ape to man. Even among secular Americans there is a feeling that Darwin undermined the power of religion to motivate the soul. The facts are Darwin's book was written after the American constitution which had already separated state from church, while the Church of England, which is still supported by England today, buried Darwin in Westminster Abbey in 1882.


Pythagoras - Hypatia

The formal scientific debate over evolution began in the 4th century BC. Alexander the Great was the Greek conquerer who extended the Greek empire through out the middle east. Conquering, however, might not be the right word. The Persian army literally allowed Alexander to defeat their king in single combat, then they willingly picked up their swords to follow him into Egypt. Egypt's New Kingdom dynasty had previously collapsed and easily feel into his hands.

So why did the Persians so willing follow a foreigner? Intellectuals are fond of pointing out that Aristotle, a scholar trained by Plato of Athens, was Alexander's tutor. After Alexander's rise to power, Aristotle became a great teacher in Athens with a school he called the Lyceum whose purpose was to classify nature. Aristotle was an innovative scientist, having begun the classification of species that has been improved upon to this day. A natural question with such classification is: Where did the different species come from? Aristotle said perfect patterns were set in the beginning by an unchanging heaven and as such cats would always be cats, dogs would always be dogs, and men would always be superior to women, as kings were to the common man.

Aristotle had a very different view of the heavens, not at all like the tradition stories handed down by Athens. The pantheon of gods ruled by Zeus and Hera were seen as the planets, a word which in ancient Greek meant vagabonds, because they wondered aimless through the night sky without any apparent rhyme or reason. Or so it would seem if Earth was the center of the universe. The planetary patterns are very predictable when seen as revolving around the sun. Two centuries before, Pythagoras of Samos (Grecian) founded the Pythagorean school in Italy in the 6th century BC which came to speculated the planets revolved around the sun, as the sun revolved around a fiery center of the cosmos. Pythagoreans first revealed the formula for the right triangle that set off a revolution in trigonometry, navigation and the evolution of change. Pythagoreans viewed the plurality of number as the cause of all natural phenomena. While space and time consisted of points or instants, space and time also had a property called continuity of change which eventually led to introduction of the time-space continuum by the German scientist Hermann Minkowski in 1908.

Zeno of Elea was a student of Parmenides and both belonged to the Eleatic school which believed in the unity and permanence of being. Together they traveled to Athens for a visit where Zeno used a dialectic style to present his paradoxes. The most famous of which are Dichotomy, Achilles and Arrow. Dichotomy argues that before a moving object can travel a given distance it must first travel half the distance; before half, a fourth; before fourth, an eight; and so on through an infinite number of distances. It is impossible to cover an infinite number of divisions in a finite time, therefore the beginning of motion is impossible. If Achilles races against a slow tortoise who has been given a head start, Achilles can never pass the tortoise because no matter how fast Achilles runs the tortoise will always be a bit ahead of him; therefore change in position is impossible. The Arrow argues that an object in flight always occupies a space equal to itself, but that which occupies a space equal to itself is not in motion; therefore motion is an illusion. Today the resolution comes in the adding all the fractions 1/2+1/4+1/8+1/16+... together to get the limit of the infinite sum which converges to 1 so motion is possible.

As the years rolled by, Aristotle could see no changes in the heavens. The planets continued to be unruly, as the sun remained constant as the giver of light, as cats continued to be cats; dogs, dogs; men, men and women, women. And so based upon observation, Aristotle proclaimed the heavens and all patterns set in the beginning by the heavens as timeless. The Greeks not only saw Earth as the center, but Greece as the center of the Earth, which in turn would make them center of the cosmos. Apollo's temple at Delphi had a rounded stone, Apollo's priests proclaimed as the very navel of the Earth. Only humans experienced time and as such were capable of falling from grace destroying that which was set in the beginning, but such changes were never for the better.

Ironically enough, the word heaven began in honor of the women Hatshepsut, a Pharaoh of Egypt, the first great women of power in recorded history in the 14th century B.C., who like the Pharaohs before and after, were seen as descendants of the Gods. It was rumored, however, that her nephew Thutmose III, heir to the throne, impatient of having to wait his turn; had her killed. The Greeks picked up the martyred Pharaoh and made her Hera, Goddess of Heaven. The early stories of perfection, The Garden of Eden from which man fell, originally came from the Tigris Euphrates river valley. Perhaps such a lush valley was always being overrun by invaders and each time was a loss of Eden. Abraham of Ur originated in this fertile valley before he moved to what was soon to be called Israel. The early Greek myths, however, are more like the Egyptian myths about bringing order out of chaos. Aristotle was adopting a middle east view point when he choose to believe in perfection. Though I personally wonder, if the Greek saints embellished the first chapters of Genesis to make it sound like their Greek Aristotle. So in the end they were the same.

There was nothing new in Aristotle's view of universe to have fascinated the middle eastern Persians who already had such myths, even if they had heard of Aristotle. There is another possible answer for the Persian fascination with the Greeks. For the previous four hundred years, the Greeks had been hosting the Olympic games in the name of Zeus, their father God. Perhaps the Persians were more interested in playing games than in fighting wars. But if the beginnings of interracial games was so powerful why was Alexander a king, instead of democratic leader? While Athens was the birthplace of democracy, it was also the home of Aristotle, Alexander the Great's teacher. Plato was Aristotle's teacher. Plato was upset when his teacher Socrates, who had adoptive Zeno's dialectic style of telling paradoxes, was sentenced to death by an Athenian democratic jury. According to Plato, Socrates, in the market place of Athens, had taught the importance of listening to one's inner voice to find one's inner truth. This upset the priests of Athena's temple who feared Socrates would become more powerful and take away their followers. The priests incited the people to put Socrates to death for insulting their city and its temple. After Socrates death, Plato took it upon himself to chastise Athens for their cruel behavior and insist upon freedom of speech. Plato, however, did not trust democracies and taught that a righteous king who cared for his citizens was the best of all possible governments.

Plato taught Aristotle. Aristotle taught Alexander the child who would become King of an extensive Greek empire. Alexander's new capital was Alexandria in Egypt. It was in Alexandria, the geometer Euclid in the beginning of the 3rd century BC, combined the knowledge of Egyptian building with Greek theory, to become the father of scientific reasoning and theoretical geometry. Euclid, however, remained silent on the nature of the solar system. Alexandria flourished as an intellectual capital until it fell victim to the Christians. At the turn of the 5th century, a women mathematician and inventor named Hypatia lectured in the Museum founded by Euclid. She claimed to be a neo-Platonist, a pagan and a follower of Pythagorean works. She was dragged by a mob of Christian monks into their church where she was killed as they scraped her flesh from her bones and her flesh burnt. Orestes, a former student of Hypatia and at the time of her death, the Roman Prefect of Alexandria; demanded an investigation. The investigation never took place. Orestes resigned and left Alexandria. Interest in science diminished until the plague ravished Europe in the 14th century.


Nicolaus Copernicus - Present

The Christian God was in his heavens and all was right with the world in Europe when the plague struck in 1348, killing an estimated one-third of its population in its initial attack; reoccuring every 17 to 25 years usually in urban centers for the next four centuries. For the devoutly religious, the plague was attributed to the will of God as punishment for sin and the response was to appeal for divine intervention by means of religious processions, offerings and self-denial. Heretics, witches, Jews and others of questionable character were frequently persecuted during an outbreak of the plague. Scientific theory interested in physical causes reemerged from the dark ages to explain the biological causes of the plague. By about 1500, the theory of contagion was introduced and case studies where isolation practices were followed seemed to confirm theories of the person-to-person spread of the disease. It wasn't until the 1890's, that the ecological trio of rodent host, flea vector, and Y. pestis was understood, thanks to the discovery of "germs" by Louis Pasteur in France in the previous decade.

Science was insisting upon the truth of our physical existence even though such truths may challenge our emotional security. In the 16th century Nicolaus Copernicus in his youth, observed an eclipse by the moon of the star Aldebaran in 1497 and wondered about Aristotle's changeless universe. Copernicus had seen an irregular change in the heavens which lead him to muse on the retrograde paths of the planets. In the sunset of his life, in 1543, he published his book The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres expanding upon the Pythagorean heliocentric model. Copernicus theorized that the earth rotates daily on its axis and revolves yearly around the sun in a circular orbit as do the other planets. Science was again fascinated by heliocentric/geocentric argument and many scientists set out to prove or disprove it.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced our current calendar which accounts for leap year every four years, including the three we skip on the beginning of each century on three out of four centuries. After Gregory's leadership ended in 1585, Copernicus ideas were meet with opposition by religious leader who felt it was their duty to console their followers with the faith that the Earth and its human inhabitants were at the center of the universe. The philosopher Giordano Bruno, influenced by 15th century humanism, neo-Platonism and Copernican theories expounded the primacy of the intellect, the naturalness of religion and the infinity of the universe, was condemned for heresy in Rome by the Inquisition under the leadership of Pope Clement VIII. He refused to recant and was burned at the stake on Feb. 17, 1600.

Undaunted, Johannes Kepler, the imperial mathematician in Prague, in the 1609 published Celestial Mechanics. Using a detailed mathematical analysis, based on a life-time of astronomical observations by Tycho Brahe, Kepler proved that Mars revolved around the sun and extended his proof to theorize that all the planets revolved around the sun. Kepler realized that an ellipse (an elongated circle) gave 5% greater accuracy with observed observations than a circular orbit. He also suggested that the attraction between sun and planets diminished inversely with the distance of the planet from the sun. In Italy, in 1632, Galileo Galilei published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems using conceptual arguments based on many of his own experiments, that contrary to Aristotle, heaven and earth are composed of the same kinds of matter. To reconcile the earth's motion based on Kepler's proof with man's experience in everyday life, Galileo set forth the concept of the relativity of motion (Einstein), the idea of inertia, the law of uniform acceleration and its application to falling bodies (Newton), calling for a unified science of physics and astronomy. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition closely guided by Pope Urban VIII, whose verdict along with Catholic church authorities was encouraged by academic followers of Aristotle, for heresy. Galileo would have been burnt alive as a heretic, but choose to rescind his beliefs and died under house arrest. Pope John Paul II, in 1992, acknowledged it was a mistake to have tried Galileo.

Enter Isaac Newton, the father of determinism, where nature plays out on a regular time table like a clock with his Laws of Motion and Gravity. But is nature the consistent clock or is it human's approximations that gives us rhythmic time. Newton thought he was born on December 25, 1642, but England was into all things Protestants so they didn't adopted Gregorian calendar until 1752. Readjusting for leap year, Newton was born on January 4, 1643. Calendars have always been such a strange issue. There are 365.2422 sidereal days in a year, a year measures the time it takes the sun to return to its original position in the heavens after one revolution around the sun and a sidereal day an even division of the year; contrasted with 365 solar days in a year, a solar day measuring the time it takes the earth to complete one rotation. Time is discontinuous when different velocities are compared, so keeping the vernal (spring) equinox on the same day of the calendar has been a challenge. Trusting in the Zodiac to measure the seasons was often more reliable. We currently only have to add a day on leap year every four years, minus three leap years in four centuries to keep count. We skipped leap year on the years 1700, 1800, 1900, but we will be keeping leap year in the year 2000.

Even the myths that surround Newton's origins and discoveries, such as the apple that fell in his garden that lead to his discovery of gravity, which Newton himself encouraged perhaps to hide the fact that Robert Hooke had previously provided a conceptual link between central attraction and a force falling off inversely with the square of the distance, are distorted. The story is told that Edmund Halley, a friend of Hooke, asked Newton what type of curve does a planet describe in its orbit around the sun, assuming an inverse square law of attraction. Newton successfully showed Halley that one could derive an ellipse. Halley was so impressed he agreed to finance Newton's now famous Naturalis Principia Mathematicia in 1687. The way one derives an ellipse with an inverse square law is to draw two parabolas (half an ellipse) and connect them, but placement of the tip of the parabola depends on observed data. The algebraic equation of an ellipse, that doesn't require patching two parabolas together, requires two foci and we only have one sun. With Newton's patchwork we can derive with varying degrees of accuracy the orbits of the planets. Einstein improved on calculation of the orbits of planets such as Mercury that are closer to the sun, while Einstein's and Newton's method are equally reliable for planets farther away such as Pluto.

Edmund Halley published his important study of cometary orbits, Synopsis Astronomiae Cometicae, in 1705. In it he analyzed available observations of comets in accordance with Newtonian mechanics and predicted that comets made elongated elliptical orbits around the sun. In particular he forecast that a comet he observed in 1682 would return in 1758. The comet, which now bears his name, did return after Halley's death and further convinced skeptics of the power of Newtonian mechanics, but the comet follows a strange elongated ellipse the defies simple rules of gravity attraction. In the 20th century when Richardson was measuring the coast of England, he decided that there must be more than two dimensions to all the curves along the coastline. Chaos theory agrees. A smooth ball or box would be an exact three dimensions. Mountains and valleys in a planet's surface create more than three dimensions, but less than four. The suns, planets, asteroids belts, etc with 3+ (fractal) dimensions and various densities fold space so that a comet could ride on the manifolds like a ship on an ocean current. NASA is currently mapping a host of manifolds that exist naturally in our solar system. They are hoping that spaceships can ride these space currents to save fuel.

Enter Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity in 1905 that suggests an inverse relationship between speed and time. In order to explain why light did not degrade, Einstein suggested that at the speed of light the time between the ticks of the clock was infinite so time ceased to exist. As velocity slowed the clock started ticking, with the slower the velocity the faster the ticks. Edwin Hubble observations in 1929 showed the universe was expanding and the time dependence of the Hubble coefficient implied an early period of rapid expansion named the Big Bang. This could reconfirmed Einstein's theory since as the earth slowed we gained extra days on leap year. However, relativity has maintains a neighbor to neighbor connection on the large scale that does not account for the sudden appearance of an extra day. Discontinuous time is obvious when comparing solar days with sidereal years. If we focus on seconds that maintain consistency with sidereal days, then solar days would become inconsistent so that by the end of the first year midnight would be come 6 AM, the end of the second year midnight would be noon, the third 6 PM and finally back to midnight again. We choose instead to focus on days and let the years be inconsistent. There are both continuous to themselves, but the inability to maintain two focuses at once confirms the Heisenberg principle of uncertainly extended to include varying velocities.

Werner Heisenberg was a German atomic physicist who in 1927 introduced the Heisenberg uncertainty principle that stated position and velocity cannot be precisely determined at the same time. Previous Bohr, in 1913, theorized discrete atomic spectral emission lines were caused by a quantum jump where electrons jump from one permitted energy level to another of lower energy emitting a quantum of energy equal to the difference in energy between the higher and lower energy levels. When electrons jump from a lower to a higher energy level they absorb a quantum of energy. Heisenberg uncertainty principle allowed the use of probability theory in quantum theory to determine the outcome of the spectral lines. In the 1940s, George Gamow and his collaborators suggested the center of the universe may have been as hot and dense as the interior of a star and nuclear reactions would have occurred. Eventually this lead to the suggestion of cold, dark, densely packed subatomic matter that as it increased in density became hot enough to explode. Perhaps in the explosion there might be primordial cold matter made by the collapse of irregularities in the very early stages of the universe. Primordial cold matter would glow white hot emitting radiation in the form of X rays and gamma rays. The Hubble telescope has successfully detected this radiation at the center of galaxies. So where do we go from here. Will the Big Bang become the Big Crunch? See Cosmic Spirals


© 1999 Heidi Hileman
References

Cosmic Spirals

Net Advance of Evolution