Monday, February 6, 2017

Evolution and intelligence

Intelligence is a result of evolution. That is a fact that nobody can deny. But was there some form of intelligence present already before the origin of life?  A lot of people prefer to answer this question with a "yes". There are a lot of different view on the question, but most of them belong to one of the groups "creationism", "Intelligent Design", "The Third Way" and neo-Darwinism.

All the various forms of creationism depend on a theistic force to drive evolution. Intelligent Design depends on a super intelligence that could predict everything so well that it could construct an initial form of life that would evolve according to readymade recipes stored in the cells of every organism. Lynn Margulis had another variant. She posited that bacteria forms an intelligent network. This network controls the evolution of all higher forms of life, i.e. eukaryotes, but also the conditions on the Earth surface. That follows from the Gaia theory that she launched together with James Lovelock. There is a group of scientists that have organized under the concept "The third way". Most dominating in the group are James A. Shapiro and Denis Noble. They have inherited a lot of Lynn Margulis’s thinking, probably also her bacterial intelligence theory.

Darwin did not refer to any intelligence, but he probably believed that life contains something that is not existing in non-life, and must have a theistic origin. He said that: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

Neo-Darwinists do not believe in intelligent control of evolution. I do not know what they think about the origin, as that is not a part of their theory. But instead of intelligent control, they posit that selection in some enigmatic way controls evolution.

If there is something in nature that is reminiscent of an intelligence or could be seen as an enigmatic control system, then it is the "contra-Darwinistic system". It is present in nearly all forms of life, and the better variants of the system is found in organisms that evolve better, i.e. have the most innovative evolution.

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