Touching The Limits Of Knowledge

Cosmology and our View of the World


Evolution as a Property of the Universe or “Evolution Believes in You”
Lead: Bill Hurd, Liz Poulsen, Dan Widrew


Summary by Jason Walls:


Evolution as a Property of the Universe or “Evolution Believes in You”

What is Evolution?

Some suggestions were made:
  - Accumulated change over time
  - A genetic change (the biological definition)

Bill Proposed that some Abstraction was needed:
  - Etymological definition: “Unfolding or Unrolling”
  - Is it Progress towards a goal? If so, what is a goal? What is its purpose?
  - Having a goal implies intent – with or without consciousness
  - Darwinian evolution specifically implies no particular goal

The Biological view was discussed:
  - Evolution is decent with modification
  - Common Ancestry

Again the question of intent – is a “Mind” necessary to the model or not?
Is equilibrium and entropy a goal? Things seem to head that way.

Bill presented his formal definition:
“Variations and Retention of Characteristics in Successive Iterations with a Selection Mechanism (Natural or Artificial).”

James suggested that even stars evolve – you can use the term universally
Bill went over the reasoning behind the words he used:
  Variations – similar to mutations in biology
  Retention – DNA in biology
  Characteristics – self explanatory
  Successive Iterations – successive instances of the same pattern or phenomenon
  Selection Mechanism – the constraints involved in the evolutionary process

    - it was suggested that this was too much of a requirement
    - is this mechanism physical or random?

Tom gave a good abstraction: “Evolution is an explanation of how something got the way it is”

Bill clarified to state that evolution could be considered “progression towards the context of the environment” – which can be multi-directional

Trevor felt it was important to define when it progresses from one set of laws to another.

Does evolution need to be directed?
It was decided that more specificity was needed – which brought the question:
  “More specifically, can Darwinian evolution be applied to everything?”
    -Yes, if the selection mechanism can be broad
    -The importance of Patterns was discussed
    -The information that is passed on is vital to the next state

Some other topics discussed:
  - Evolution is variation in a medium
      o Such as, the progression of art
  - The propagation of this variation could be considered “Memes”
  - The storage of information that is passed on could be considered “Retention” as discussed earlier – “a vehicle for the retention of characteristics”
  - The second law of thermodynamics says that evolution cannot reverse.