DOWNSIZING DARWIN: An Intelligent Face for Evolution
For the general reader
Available as a free PDF email attachment
Email request to Bob@cosmic-mindreach.com.
Richard Dawkins proudly defends Darwinism in his popular book River Out of Eden. A river of genes springing
from the blind fortuitous survival of DNA sequences is the sole determining factor in the evolutionary process.
Only DNA sequences he insists. But his supporting arguments are riddled with flaws. How strange that the
whole of evolutionary biology should be infected with contradictions. Blind belief without foundation is flaunted
as vigorously as any repressive religion. Nor is creationism the only option. The evidence across the broad
sweep of time and space confirms that the evolutionary process unfolds in an ordered way that is implicitly
Intelligence by its nature spans time and space. It integrates history. It is a living process that may learn by trial
and error but reinvests that learning up through hierarchical levels in the long climb toward sentient
awareness. Left exclusively to genetic linkages, lessons from whole lineages of extinct species spanning eons
would be lost forever. Even plants display some sentience, from vascular systems that reach for the sky, to
flowers that attract pollinating insects, anticipating processes extended in space and time. The invertebrates
from flatworms to flies explore an array of sensory-motor systems spanning space and time at accelerated
rates. The vertebrates from crocodiles and cows to chimpanzees add conscious reflection of emotional
patterns, providing ever higher discretionary capacities to span space and time. Lastly, language empowers
humans to integrate the whole of space and time through extended ideas. But this left-brain capacity invites a
right-brain spiritual sense of propriety. And both brains are fueled by an emotional apparatus harnessed to the
ancient brains of the crocodile and horse integrated into our cerebral anatomy. We three-brained creatures
are specifically structured to span space and time. With anciently rooted aspirations fueled by our animal
brothers we are obliged to reach for another rung in evolution’s ladder and grasp the essence of intelligence
implicit in the cosmic order.
A Critique of River out of Eden
I- In the Beginning the Preface
II- The Digital Adam and Eve
III- Out of Africa
IV- On Winning by Cheating
V- The Survival Advantage of Death
VI- Our Celestial Prison
An Intelligent Face For Evolution
VII- Introducing Some New Ideas
VIII- Plants-Exploring spatial forms of the eukaryotic cell
IX- Invertebrates- Exploring sensory-motor routines
X- Vertebrates- Exploring knowledge of emotive behavior
XI- Humans- Exploring ideas integrating space and time
Appendix 1- The Limbic Cortex
Appendix 2- The Hypothalamus and Cerebellum
Appendix 3- Company & Nervous System Integration
Appendix 4- The Universal Hierarchy-Summary
In the academic world it is usual for scientific contributions to be assessed by a peer review process, that for all of its
weaknesses is better than nothing. A peer review process can cut both ways, however. Biases inevitably come to play, as they do
in all human endeavors, and a peer review process can often serve as much to promote them as to expose them. It is only over
time, sometimes over periods of many centuries, that biases gradually get weeded out from our garden of acceptable ideas.
* * * *
In the Beginning the Preface
Preface to River out of Eden:
Dawkins begins his book with a poem by Piet Hein:
Nature, it seems, is the popular name
For milliards and milliards and milliards
Of particles playing their infinite game
Of billiards and billiards and billiards.
There you have the bias of science wrapped up in a nut shell. Everything is the result of local interactions between elementary
particles, going all the way back to the big bang. This is the view of the cosmic order held as immutable truth by mainstream
science—an article of faith without a shred of supporting evidence.
Think for a moment. If all being, including the entire universe, is truly just a random game of atomic billiards, then there is no real
or transcending basis to values of any kind, including truth. Therefore there can be no basis for saying that everything can be
reduced to atomic billiards, for this mindless view offers no basis whatever for truth itself. It is a self contradictory position. It
presumes a thing as true while implicitly denying there is such a thing as truth. Truth can hardly be the accidental result of atomic
One should be able to stop right there. The inherent contradiction should be seen by those who would maintain the position,
discouraging them from holding to it. They should look for a more self consistent view, for an implicit order that allows of truth. .
Why don’t they then? Because they do not have access to a practical alternate paradigm that will allow us to understand how
intelligent processes work.
I would like to be kind and give Darwinists the benefit of a few doubts that may emerge here and there, and overlook weaknesses
in their arguments in the hope that their intentions are directed toward an impartial determination of the truth. But they don’t see
how they can open the door to other possible options because the alternative is creationism. This is not just a matter of a
difference of opinion over a few minor issues. Arguments on both sides are riddled with obvious flaws and flaunted in the face of
solid evidence to the contrary. Such an entrenched approach on both sides carries with it a good measure of self-deception. They
are reactionary positions in the evolutionary arena.
These opposing positions have little to do with the facts of the matter. They would dispense with most of philosophy, most of
psychology, and proceed to contradict the laws of thermodynamics, not to mention the impact on our cultural traditions. On the
scientific side this blind one-gearishness would ultimately reduce us all to mindless greed and obsessive action, all in the guise
of logical argument.
Darwinian evolutionists must choose to ignore a large body of contradictory evidence in order to foster their beliefs. Their faith in
the blind process of “natural selection” prejudices their efforts. On the basis of Dawkins’ book, it will be shown that extreme
Darwinism is a blind belief without foundation, as fervent as any religion and with all the ear marks of self-deception.
To suggest, as Dawkins does at the outset, that the Darwinian view has poetic beauty and inspirational value is to seriously
compound the deception, for now we are treading in a fanciful world of double speak. It is inconsistent with Dawkins’ argument to
throw in a healthy dose of values, including beauty and inspiration. Beauty and inspiration are larger than the bare facts of life.
They are universally recognized qualities that are implicitly associated in some way with ultimate truth, transcending physical
existence. We all sense their transcendent quality and we credit their ephemeral essence as real. Values determine everything
that we do. But here we are urged to use them in order to justify a blind materialist view with no self-consistent place for values at
all. At the same stroke we are to believe that this is in accord with sound reason.
That’s double speak. After all, no intelligent reader is likely to deny a place in their lives for beauty and inspiration. Are atomic
accidents beautiful? We can’t even see them, much less assert with such confidence that they determine our being. Who really
wants to live in a world reduced to atomic billiards? Who really believes it?
If no one really believes it, yet say that it is so, why do they make such efforts to sustain the deception? Why did Darwin go to all
the trouble in the first place? No one can deny the “extreme perfection and complication” of nature’s mechanisms, but to suggest
that Darwin’s hypothesis explains them is an unsubstantiated leap of blind faith. Why did Darwin take this leap?
Is it as Richard Dawkins suggests, that nature’s complex mechanisms fulfill an apparent purpose? Purpose again implies
values in anticipation of achieving a future objective. We take medicine for the purpose of curing a disease. We say it is valuable
for achieving that anticipated result. Can we invest genes with the capacity to anticipate the future? Purpose implies intelligence
at work to achieve a meaningful result. Then how can all creation be the accidental result of blind atomic billiards? We shall see
that double speak pervades the arguments for Darwinism. ....
* * * *
The Digital Adam and Eve
River Out of Eden - Ch. 1-The Digital River:
The double speak proceeds in Dawkins’ first chapter by suggesting that religions are grounded in ancestor worship and that it is
real ancestors not supernatural gods that hold the key to understanding life. Is religion really grounded in ancestor worship?
According to the founders they are based upon direct experiential insights into a transcendent and intelligent creative order.
The point here is not to justify traditional religions, nor the cultural biases that have become associated with them. The point is
that Darwinism is an unsubstantiated belief that cannot claim to be based upon direct experiential insight into the creative
process. It is pure conjecture, yet Dawkins insists that life is just digitized information in a river of genes out of Eden.
Dawkins points out that ancestors were survivors and are rare compared to descendants, but this is not a very “astonishing” fact
as he claims. It is hardly a profound or meaningful basis for a new belief system to explain the whole creative order.
If a successful life is measured solely by prolific numbers of offspring, thus determining successful genes, and if this is the sole
reason why birds fly well, fish swim well, and why we love life, sex and children, then the selfish gene is ultimately the only reality
and greed is the only moral. By this standard we may be able to understand why we “love” our own children or close kin, but why
should we love or even respect the children of others, except as potential mates to propagate our own greedy genes? Social
relationships all become reduced to strategic alliances of mutual greed. Better to kill off others outside our alliances to make
more room for own greedy genes to succeed, at least to the extent that we can do it successfully.
Mother Theresa was obviously severely deranged, to say nothing of Jesus Christ or the Buddha, or the countless selfless
contributors to enhancing the human condition. And childless souls like Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Michelangelo, and Leonardo
were likewise all losers, unless we are to think of them as worker ants foregoing offspring so that others, who might happen to
share some of their genes, may better survive. The most intelligent and compassionate among us must be blind slaves of
genes, along with the most mindless of the propagating majority. This view of Darwinism denigrates us all. It would leave us
bereft of any sense of meaning to our being except the blind gratification of animal drives. Insight into the creative order begins
and ends with our own greedy flesh.
Darwin himself did not endorse such an extreme view. He took issue with the dogmatic Genesis view held by the church,
however he was not an atheist in the same extreme sense that a modern Darwinist is. Nothing was known of molecular biology
during his time.
Genes, it is claimed, are not upgraded or otherwise altered in the using. They are passed on unchanged except for very rare
random errors, a few of which may bestow certain advantages. Now how does any biologist know with such supreme certainty
that this is so? How does one know that a so-called “error” is really an error, not just sometimes, or most of the time, but always.
Since there is no decisive “proof” available, this must be accepted as an article of faith, along with the rest of the package. Any
evidence to the contrary is thus precluded from investigation, even if some worthy soul points it out. (And some biologists have
done so. One who has produced compelling evidence is Professor Michael J. Behe in his book Darwin’s Black Box, Touchstone
books, NY, 1998.)
Genes, in this strange language of double speak, are then invested with values such as companionship. Genes must be good at
working cooperatively with other genes of the species, it is maintained, while at the same time maintaining that they compete with
other genes. “Good genes” know when and how to be altruistic to good collective advantage. These clusters of inanimate
molecules that we call genes are invested with complex intentions and value judgments. This is quite apart from any sense of
social propriety that we may entertain as individuals, and yet Dawkins implies that our genetic inheritance predetermines our
judgments as well. If our judgments are in fact predetermined why does Richard Dawkins feel a need to sway the world to his
view? Why should anyone care?
Now genes of different species are said to be in different rivers that don’t have to cooperate, at least not in the same way,
according to Dawkins. It is an inverted river that keeps branching downstream, all the rivers diverging from common ancestors, all
the way back to invertebrates, plants and bacteria and presumably to the first living cell, however it came to get started.
It is maintained that major divergences of rivers, such as the mammals from the reptiles, did not in fact represent major events at
the time, that they were no different in kind to any other divergence in species brought about by geographical separation. This is a
little like saying that because a work of art begins with a single meaningless pencil stroke, the end result is only a meaningless
scribble. Accidental geographical separation is also considered necessary in order for diverging species to evolve in parallel.
Both the fossil record and the living record provide powerful evidence to the contrary. The first mammals diverged in Triassic
times, over 200 million years ago, when the reptiles were just beginning to bloom into a great divergence of species. Yet during
the reptilian period the mammals experienced very little evolution apart from refinements associated with warm blooded activity,
all being confined to small rodent-like creatures until nearly the end of the reptilian reign. The reptiles completely dominated the
scene, then abruptly became almost totally extinct about 65 million years ago.
Despite all the reptilian “success,” it wasn’t mammalian divergence from the end of the reptilian period that survived and
blossomed in its turn. It was those tiny shrew-like rodents that had emerged near the beginning of the reptilian period, and that
had undergone little change for 160 million years, that suddenly and rapidly exploded into a great divergence of mammalian
species ancestral to those that we know today. ...
* * * *
Out of Africa
River Out Of Eden – Ch. 2- All Africa and Her Progenies:
Double speak gets underway again early in this chapter, even though Dawkins generally deals more with hard evidence. An
extreme version of so-called “cultural relativism” is brought on the carpet for a dressing down, and one wonders why Dawkins
should do this, if not to discredit by inference more than the target. Dawkins has a tendency to use facts out of context to tar
everyone who disagrees with the same brush, although he does make allowances in a footnote for more “sensible” cultural
relativists. His criticism is directed against those who suggest that modern science has become a creation myth, hardly different
in kind to the creation myths of earlier cultures.
“Show me a cultural relativist at thirty thousand feet and I’ll show you a hypocrite,” he exclaims. Of course airplanes really fly, and it
really is a credit to our understanding of certain physical principles that they do. We have learned a few things in the course of our
social evolution. But we are talking about creation myths as they may or may not relate accurately to the creative process, not
about the physics of flight.
Are we to believe that because we can machine parts and assemble them into a workable aircraft that we can use the same
principles to make a canary? Can we use the same principles to model the whole of creation? Can we reasonably extrapolate
many orders of magnitude beyond energies ever achievable in particle accelerators, to determine events in a supposed big bang
origin of the entire universe? Can we reasonably employ notions of an assumed space-time continuum to calculate when a
physical origin to the universe occurred, despite an inability to unambiguously identify either space or time as real a priori entities?
Space and time and force and so on are ideas invented by man from physical observations to help us cope with everyday
experience. The origin of the universe is itself a contradiction in terms for it nullifies these physical concepts and the principles
upon which they are based. This is well known and yet this fundamental fact is ignored. We are supposed to believe that this
whole incredibly vast universe was once compressed into a volume infinitely smaller than a single proton. If everything was once
compressed into a singularity the size of nothing without distinguishable order within it, and nothing outside it, then all of the laws
of nature on which all theories are based are refuted. This contradiction in terms divorces us from our own experience. The big
bang theory does not allow of confirmation in experience, not ever. It is a blind belief in a mathematical concoction. Is this not the
stuff of myth? ...
* * * *
On Winning by Cheating
River Out Of Eden – Ch. 3 - Do Good By Stealth:
Double speak even creeps into the title of this chapter of Dawkins’ book. Values, good and bad, are touted as both the motive and
the modus operandi of a mindless creative process.
The title refers to a discussion of how the orchid has evolved to imitate both the appearance and smell of the sex organ of the
female wasp, thus attracting male wasps to copulate, philandering creatures that they are, and promoting its own pollination.
Dawkins gets into his discussion by quoting at length from a personal letter from an American minister who read of the
phenomena in National Geographic. The man was so impressed that he came to believe “...that some kind of God in some kind
of fashion must exist, and have an ongoing relationship with the processes by which things come into being.” The man
consequently abandoned atheism and embraced the church.
This letter has apparently disturbed Dawkins, for he responds publicly to the minister’s private letter at length: “...How, I want to
ask the minister, can you be so sure that the wasp mimicking orchid (or eye, or whatever) wouldn’t work unless every part of it
was perfect and in place? Have you in fact given the matter a split second’s thought? Do you actually know the first thing about
orchids, or wasps, or the eyes with which wasps look at females and orchids? What emboldens you to assert that wasps are so
hard to fool that the orchid’s resemblance would have to be perfect in all dimensions in order to work.” What follows from the pen
of an eminent biologist obviously seeking converts to his mindless position is good cause to be disturbed, for he himself has no
basis on which to be so sure of blind accident as the sole creative agent. His own logic is riddled with holes.
Dawkins states that “The purpose of this chapter is to destroy the argument that complicated contrivances have to be perfect if
they are to work at all.” Now despite what Dawkins says, this really isn’t the purpose of the chapter. Dawkins’ purpose is clearly to
destroy any impression of intelligence at work in the creative order. Since the minister linked an intelligent agent of some kind to
perfection, Dawkins wants to exploit this statement and erode any suggestion that complicated contrivances must be perfect from
the outset, then maybe he can float this to triumph over any suggestion of intelligence at work at all in the evolutionary process. In
other words, he hopes to succeed by stealth, which he feels would be good. He has contrived the approach to exploit the minister’
Although this is clearly his hope, the two things are not synonymous. Intelligence does not imply perfection in all things from the
outset. We know from experience that if we exercise a little intelligence that we can learn by degrees and adjust our course of
action accordingly toward a satisfactory result. But the Darwinian position does not allow of intelligent feedback or assessment of
alternatives prior to selecting a course of action. Evolutionary mutations are seen as rare random accidents that just happen to
have a survival advantage that becomes established after the fact. There is no intelligent anticipation allowed in the process, no
intelligent feedback, no prior value judgments to direct the evolutionary process toward a needed result.
Having created a straw man, Dawkins sets out to destroy him by first running through many examples of creatures being fooled,
from insect to human. … Evolution certainly hasn’t had an easy time exploring the integration of experience.
All of this is intended to show that a very crude resemblance between an orchid and a female wasp might well be sufficient. “The
general lesson we should learn is never to use human judgment in assessing such matters.” Yes, Richard Dawkins really says
this in print. If we are not to use human judgment, what kind of judgment are we supposed to use?
Then he emphasizes again his stated purpose of the chapter, to defeat the fallacy of what he dubs “the Argument from Personal
Incredulity.” We are apparently not entitled to disbelieve the exclusive Darwinian viewpoint. Of these arguments he says, “Time
and again, it has proved the prelude to an intellectual banana-skin experience.” Therefore it must always prove futile to disbelieve
the Darwinian paradigm, is the implication in his statement. Now it must be conceded that not many people will take the time and
effort to carefully sift through the verbiage masking and distorting the evidence, to sort out word by word the gross transgressions
of common sense that pervade the literature. But that does not justify the Darwinian position by default.
Throughout his argument Dawkins focuses on that word perfect, maintaining that is the key contention that makes the
creationists wrong and Darwinists right. I’m not defending the creationists, only pointing out weaknesses in his arguments. He
stresses that not only does visual acuity change from one species to another, so do the conditions. He maintains there will be a
continuum of conditions from very bad to very good and then goes into a discussion to explain the obvious. Of course visual acuity
varies with distance and lighting and angle. We can’t see in the dark or through the back of our head.
But then Dawkins makes a giant leap of logic. With his smoke screen about perfection in place, holding the reader’s attention on
the one hand, on the other hand he tries to float the whole Darwinian position past like a magician doing a magic pass. He says,
“As evolution proceeds, resemblances of gradually improving perfection can therefore be favored by natural selection, in that the
critical distance for being fooled gradually moves nearer.”
Can a wasp copulate with an orchid from a distance? And the wasp is not a night time philanderer that can mistake a lover in the
dark. And the wasp is attracted not only by shape and color but also by smell, and the size must be just right for pollination to
occur. These are highly complex variables that must be selected together in concert through parallel sets of mutations. Smell
alone is as characteristic as fingerprints and so vast in its possibilities as to be virtually unlimited. Shape and size can be almost
anything, and large combinations of color are possible. Yet the orchid’s survival depends upon selection from this unlimited
range of options, with a very specific need for an insect pollinating vector. Somehow this maze of possibilities converges upon a
specific wasp sufficiently for the strategy to work, and we are asked to believe that the selection was achieved by repeated parallel
sets of blind fortuitous accidents, completely at random. Remember that the Darwinian position is that mutations are rare
accidents and only a rare few offer a survival advantage.
* * * *
The Survival Advantage of Death
River Out Of Eden – Ch. 4 - God’s Utility Function:
Dawkins flaunts double speak in grand fashion in this chapter. God’s Utility Function indeed! “We cannot admit that things might
be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous—indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose,” he says. For an
example he cites the case of wasps laying their eggs in caterpillars, grasshoppers and bees so their larvae will eat the host alive
while it matures. What happened to his inspirational and beautiful vision of Darwinian evolution “...incomparably more inspiring,
exciting and uplifting than the story of the Garden of Eden”?
And what is the survival advantage of suffering? The capacity for suffering clearly increases up the ladder of sentient awareness,
from plants to invertebrates to vertebrates, then onward with increasing conscious sensitivity up through the vertebrate series
from reptile, to lower mammal, to higher mammals and humans.
No creature has ever been created to suffer more than us humans. We are born the most helpless of all, and we are obliged
through our suffering to consciously learn, while primitive single-celled creatures that multiply by division triumphed painlessly in
the contest of perpetuating genes a few billion years ago. They are still alive and replicating today, while all but a small fragment
of subsequent species have gone extinct, vast lineages of them.
If there is utterly no purpose in all of this then what possible survival advantage can suffering have? What blind agency could there
be to declare that consciousness should emerge at all, much less consciousness of pain and death? This is a complete
refutation of survival. Is this accidental process of creation so malicious that it generates meaningless suffering, and
progressively exaggerates it, to elevate into positions of dominance particularly perverse strains of mindless genes that possess
a capacity to consciously observe their own meaningless denial in death? Is that what we human beings are?
In the same self contradictory fashion, Darwinist extremists feel justified in insisting that there is no purpose in the creative
process, no meaning whatever, while at the same stroke insisting that gene survival is the only purpose, that all meaning
reduces to this sole arbiter of our existence. Where is the hard evidence for making such an extreme and exclusive and self-
contradictory claim that is contradicted by the evolutionary record itself? ...
* * * *
Our Celestial Prison
5- The Replication Bomb:
Dawkins begins this chapter of his book with reference to the three supernovas that have been observed in our galaxy since
Chinese astronomers first documented a star exploding in 1054, to leave the Crab Nebula in its wake. He applies the analogy to
the information explosion that he says has occurred on our planet, and that he calls the replication bomb, linking it to DNA. “The
reason self-replication is a potentially explosive phenomenon is the same as for any explosion: exponential growth—the more
you have the more you get.”
Double speak creeps in again here for he jumps from DNA replication to our technological culture. We have seen that the latter is
dependent upon language and is not genetically programmed by accident. It is through us, he says, “—through our brains, our
symbolic culture and our technology—that the explosion may proceed to the next stage and reverberate through deep space.”
But why, in the first place, are we to assume that there has been an exponential explosion of digitized information via DNA
survival? If less than one percent of species have survived to the present, this indicates a growing proportionate loss of
information that has been accumulating through the evolutionary process. The only way it could be preserved is if some intelligent
process could reemploy the information gained from extinct lineages to enhance the evolving characteristics of surviving lineages.
We might expect an intelligent process to work in much the same way that we humans are able to reemploy the lessons we learn
in one circumstance to help us cope in certain other circumstances that arise in the future, since different experiences are
frequently presented to us with inherently similar characteristics. Intelligent creatures are endowed with memories and a capacity
for recall that permits the spanning of space and time. To the extent that we can understand the ever changing stream of
circumstance we can tailor old memories to reapply similar techniques to new situations. Memories are not hard wired to the
thought process, since the abstract concepts of thought are not hard wired.
* * * *
Introducing Some New Ideas
Atoms, Stars, Galaxies:
It is not enough to harshly criticize the hard line Darwinian view and leave it at that. Anyone can find fault. It is necessary also to
suggest a more meaningful alternative that is consistent with the evidence at our disposal. With this objective in mind let us
proceed to examine in broad outline an intelligent face that seeks recognition in the evolutionary record. To do this it is also
necessary to reach back to our origins in the stars, for that is where our story begins. We are creatures of the cosmos.
Earlier I introduced the idea of historic integration, the integration of space and time as a theme inherent in the evolutionary order.
The plants have worked out the spatial integration of the form of cells working together, including a large variety of possible sizes
and shapes in multi-celled plants. The invertebrates have explored time-like motor-sensory routines involved in actively
integrating experience. They sense the environment and respond dynamically to it over a huge range of circumstances.
Vertebrate evolution has focused on the integration of spatial and temporal organization in a relatively fixed body plan that can
progressively modulate behavior at ever more conscious levels of ideation. This results in the integration of history according to
the hierarchy idea, routine and form which is inherent in the evolutionary process to begin with. Self-similarity pervades the
cosmic order. ....
Let’s look more closely at the biosphere and the evolutionary process from plants to invertebrates to vertebrates to humans. We
have previously seen that this represents the progressive delegation in steps back up the hierarchy
similar to the way it worked in Hank’s company. …
The self-similarity of the System has been pointed out. In System 4 it means that we should be able to identify four levels within
each level in the hierarchy. Let’s begin with a brief introduction to the plants, and then we will explore them more thoroughly in the
next chapter. ...
* * * *
Exploring the spatial forms of the eukaryotic cell.
This first level in the universal hierarchy includes primitive plants, consisting of the huge variety of algaes, from microscopic
unicellular varieties to giant kelp (apart from the cyanobacteria, often called blue-green algae, but which are in fact photosynthetic
bacteria). Also included in this form-form level of plants are the fungi, slime molds, and the lichens.
Fungi will be considered as an involutionary variant of early plants that subsequently evolved in parallel with them. Fungi cannot
photosynthesize the nutrients that they need so they are dependent on green plants for food. But their spores are everywhere,
growing whenever they find a food source such as dead plant life, and they assist the decay of organic matter through their
digestive processes that extract the energy they need. They provide a vital function in this involutionary process of decay. Most
fungi are thus benign saprotrophs utilizing the waste of evolutionary variants, but some are parasites on living plants and animals.
The algae, in parallel with the fungi, explored the eukaryotic format, predominantly in the sea and fresh water lakes and streams.
Small simple forms first began to pioneer on land about five hundred million years ago. The simplest unicellular forms of algae
reproduce by cell division with more complex forms developing alternate sexual and asexual generations, called the gametophyte
and the sporophyte Both sexual and asexual reproduction of some kind generally occurs in algae.
The reproductive processes of fungi are considerably more varied, especially since the mycellium or body of many fungi is not
partitioned into separate cells, but consists of branching hyphae, or filaments. These filaments grow at their tips, like a maze of
intertwined tributaries, to form the body of the fungus. The cytoplasm circulates nutrients through the mycellium which may have
many nuclei containing different genetic material. Two groups of higher fungi, the Basidiomycotina, such as toadstools, coral
fungi and fairy clubs, and the Ascomycotina, such as morels and truffels, produce elaborate fruiting bodies made up of a mass of
hyphae that rise like a crown above a base. They pioneered the classic root-trunk-top structure that is so typical of terrestrial
plants, but without highly differentiated cell types employed in their separate organs.
* * * *
Exploring sensory-motor routines in space and time.
Once again we may define subsumed levels within the routine level associated with the invertebrates, so that we may speak of a
routine-form level, a routine-routine level, a routine-knowledge level, and a routine-idea level.
The parallels that derive from the self-similarity of the evolutionary hierarchy become clearly evident as we proceed to the routines
worked out by the invertebrate animals. The hierarchy keeps elaborating within itself in a self-similar way.
As we mentioned with the discussion on early plants, we can include as invertebrate animals the single-celled protists or
protozoa that do not photosynthesize energy from the sun and that have a degree of motility and ingest food, such as the
amoebas and the ciliates. We may say that these early invertebrate animals were the first to diverge from plants, and that they
were the first to sense their environment and actively respond to it in order to acquire their needs. The basic form of the routine
level of sensory-response was thus first explored by these early invertebrates.
The ciliates, such as the paramecium, are especially interesting. They generally have two sets of nuclei, a large macronucleus
and from 1 to as many as 80 micronuclei. Paramecia reproduce by cell division, but they also have elaborate sexual behavior.
Two of them occasionally fuse tightly in the oral region of the body and each exchanges an equal amount of DNA before again
going their separate ways with a revised set of genetic material. This is a sexual process of genetic recombination but it is not a
reproductive process. No new cells are created. However if they are not allowed to conjugate periodically in this way they cannot
live through more than about 350 cell divisions.
Some ciliates have the equivalent of legs. The hair-like cilia that protrude from their cell membranes fuse together and move in a
coordinated manner that allows them to walk over surfaces.
Some ciliates are amazingly complex for single cells. One called “Diplodinium dentatum” has complex mouth parts leading to a
gut, with a contractile esophagus and anus. It also has a skeleton, like a tiny backbone within the cell. Some of these highly
specialized ciliates live in the digestive tracts of cows and other hoofed mammals, and may be examples of resonant
developments between lower and higher levels in the evolutionary hierarchy, as the mammals evolved. ...
* * * *
Exploring knowledge of emotive behavior.
The hagfish and lampreys are the last survivors of the earliest vertebrates: the jawless fish, called agnathans. Early versions of
jawless fish became widespread in the seas of the Cambrian and Ordovician periods some 500 million years ago, but they were
quite different from their modern descendants. They had thick bony plates covering their bodies that probably evolved as a
defense again giant sea scorpions two meters long with pincers that could crush an unprotected animal. These early fish began
to give way to the cartilaginous fish, such as the sharks, and the bony fishes, beginning in the Devonian period, about 400 million
By the mid Devonian, about three hundred and eighty million years ago, some species of fish had developed both gills and lungs,
together with fins that were attached to four lobes that contained bones and muscles inside. These lobe fins could be used for
crawling, so these fish could breathe air and drag themselves over land for short distances. It is believed that amphibians
developed in a gradual way from these lobe-finned fish by random mutations, although amphibians go through a tadpole stage
and their skeletal structures are refined into leveraged jointed legs and digits, together with a host of other differences.
In any case, by the late Devonian a few amphibians had established themselves on land with the well defined jointed quadruped
limb structure that we know today. They could lift their bodies off the ground and walk, and they had a strong rib cage with
adaptations to keep their organs from collapsing under their weight. They also had a shoulder collar separate from a head, so
that they could move the latter independently. Amphibians became dominant land animals in the swamp forests of the
Carboniferous period, a few reaching lengths of over four meters. They were weak-jawed lizard-like creatures that developed
through a tadpole stage.
The vertebrate head brain consists of cerebral hemispheres that have blossomed above primary structures closely associated
with the brain stem at the top end of the spinal cord. The autonomic nervous system also developed in concert with the cerebral
hemispheres. The cerebral hemispheres became progressively more convoluted as their surface area increased in the higher
vertebrates. The external surface layer of the hemispheres is associated with higher levels of consciousness and intelligence.
This outer rind of the hemispheres consists of densely packed layers of nerve cells a few millimeters thick, called the cortex,
hence the term cerebral cortex. In humans it contains a few hundred billion nerve cells. The two hemispheres function with a
degree of independence and yet they are interconnected through nerve bundles called commissures, the largest by far being the
Previously it was pointed out that the cerebral hemispheres, including the cortex, developed in three stages associated with the
reptile, the lower mammal and the higher mammal. These three developments, old, median, and new, correspond to what are
called the archicortex, the mesocortex, and the neocortex, all of which were present in undeveloped form in early vertebrate
amphibians. Although the three brains were undeveloped, they represented an indication of developments to follow. In other
words they indicated a development plan anticipating events far in the future. ...
* * * *
Exploring ideas integrating space and time.
The idea at the top of the sentient hierarchy is the evolution of humanity with a capacity for creative ideation. It is abundantly
apparent from our global undertakings that no other animal species has comparable creative capacities, even though some may
be highly intelligent. With this capacity also comes a burden of responsibility, for as a species we must sooner or later learn to
bridge the gulf between self and other, and exercise restraint to make room for our animal brothers. This imperative is already
structured into our limbic system anchoring us firmly to our reptilian and mammalian roots in the biosphere. We become
spiritually impoverished as we indiscriminately propagate, pollute, and push species after species to extinction. We cannot
survive as a species alone. The biosphere lives in our heart.
At the same time, creative ideas must have a capacity to integrate experience in ways that help people to cope with the changing
flux of circumstance. They require an insight into the cosmic order of things. Ideas must span space and time, in the sense that
they must anticipate the future while at the same time finding a degree of consistency and harmony with our evolutionary roots in
the biosphere. Ideas must join heaven and earth, so to speak.
Sustainable ideas about how best to cope with circumstance evolve through social implementation. Involutionary traits always
creep in and they must eventually face resolution. In keeping with the universal and particular aspects of experience, ideas also
have both collective and individual characteristics. This involves both left-brain social and right-brain intuitive mind sets that each
individual uniquely explores in their own fashion. We are attuned like radio sets to cultural and spiritual themes, and our cerebral
hemispheres are our biospheric antennae.
Ancestral cultures, prior to the time when farming and the first complex civilizations began to appear, explored many languages
and with them the basis of conscious meaning. This included the fundamentals of human values that are woven into the fabric of
humanity today. These early cultures encompassed a great span of humanity’s conscious history and they continue to work their
influence through the bond that makes us all human, even across the years. For more than twenty-five thousand years since we
became the sole beneficiaries of the planet, the only modern humans were tribal nomads that roamed the extremities of the
planet seeking out their daily sustenance and gauging their impressions of the land.
Prior to what is recognized as the emergence of the first civilizations, in the Near East less than ten thousand years ago, spirit
cultures had explored the farthest reaches of the planet. It is significant that for most of this time the Western Hemisphere was left
untouched by human intrusions. The human adventure began there only as the last ice-age went into recession, about fifteen
thousand years ago. .....