Beyond the Last Week: Further Evolutions?

Anne Dalke's picture

I'm opening this last forum as a place for post-class commentary; come back to it in the weeks and months ahead, as you come across extensions and revisions of the story of evolution and the evolution of stories, and tell us about them. I found the first one (no surprise) in this morning's NYTimes: "A Split Emerges as Conservatives discuss Darwin." It looks as though, in their search for a wider view, Mariel, Katherine, Anne and Megan might have aimed their questions and camera at the 10 Republican Presidential candidates, who were asked during their first debate this week whether they believed in evolution. Three didn't. But many other conservatives see Darwinism as providing support for bedrock conservative ideas (traditional gender roles, free-market capitalism, governmental checks and balances...). "Political interpretations of Darwinism have been quite pliable"; it's been used by Herbert Spenser to argue for social darwinism, by Francis Galton in support of his "science" of eugenics, by Pyotr Kropotkin to argue for anarchism, by Karl Marx as a basis for the historical class struggle, by Woodrow Wilson as a model for living political constitutions, by Peter Singer to argue for the fundamental similarities between humans and nonhuman animals...

Paul's picture

survivors of the universe(s)

Hyperspace (the book) gave me the insights about why we don't see life outside this planet. Civilization and living things occur in spikes (discontinously). Therefore we will have little chances of seeing each other (life forms from another planet). Genesis 1:1 it says, in the begining..., which refers to the instance of creation of times(then space, I assume). It is the time of universe rearranged its symmetry. Therefore this unknown source of energy just created freezed into matter and space with more symmetry formed. ( The entropy crisis or free energy crisis in the evolution theory just arose ). There came the inorganic evolution with the formation of planets. Subsequent to that, there was the formation of organics through yet another unknown mechanism, just on the surface of the planet earth. From then on, it kicks off the organic evolution (More entropy and free energy problem, there must be some super catalysts around the planet). The other planets have not undergone the second phase (organic) evolution yet. If it does, their life forms must be so advanced that they might be living in another hyperspace, therefore they can never be percieved by our human eyes or technology which only can sense the time-space 3-D diminsion, which is very limited to the existing 10 or 11 dimensions of the universe.

What is the contradiction of creation and evolution. They both came from the same deductionist point of view (very judeo). Genesis I summarizes most of it. Science (life scientists) just explains the mechanistic point of view.

If one cannot believe in things they don't see or measure with their primitive instruments, they just don't understand their existence in the universe much less the time-space (3 dimensional man) limitation of their senses.

Therefore G_d is a Spirit (out of the time dimension at least) if He was the creator of time. What is G_d. No one has seen him according to the judeo bible, yet they believe. Our brain has a memory chip buit-in in the back of our brain.

A student of molecular evolution for a few years. Please pardon my ignorance.

Kristin Jenkins's picture


I just wanted to say that, even though this class is more than over, the life of the discussions and material we have covered still lives on. I'm sure I speak for more than just myself when I say that summer is rarely a time that I even consider thinking about research topics. However, on more than one occassion in the past few months, I have caught myself thinking "Now that would make an interesting EvoLit paper...". Such epiphanies have occurred when I least expect them to, and I can only blame (or thank, rather) our "generative" class discussions. Along with these epiphanies, though, comes a moment of let down when I realize that our class is undoubtedly over, and no matter how much I beg my dean, she probably wont let me take the class over again. Luckily for me, such thoughts are useful for more than just class papers, and I realize too that this was most probably the point all along. I state now that my mind has been officially, and irreversibly, expanded, and I thank everyone involved in our semester for such a wonderful experience.

Anne Dalke's picture

irreversible expansions

It's a delight, Kristin, to hear a few months after about your "irreversibly expanded mind." Say more--what are some of the interesting paper topics that have occured to you over the summer....?

(I've been having them, too; one is about improbability--how we really can't predict from what's already happened what WILL happen. And one is about assessment--how we limit what we learn--& seeing what our students learn--if we identify the goals ahead of time.)


hayley reed's picture

ongoing discussions about an ongoing process

The beauty of this forum is that even though our class is over we will always be apart of this community. My other classes have finished and sadly my discussions in these classes have also finished. But, we are incredibably lucky to have the opportunity to share thoughts about evolution as they come to us in the months ahead. We get to share our thoughts with one another even though we may not be in the same class any more. Evolution is an ongoing process and it seems fitting that we have a place to post our thoughts as new ideas come to us. Going off this idea that evolution is an ongoing process that is always changing I thought I might mention that a new species of hummingbird was just discovered.  I was reading an article this morning about the gorgeted puffleg which is a rare new hummingbird which has been  spotted in the forests of southwestern Colombia. Did you know that the South American country has the world's largest variety of birds, with more than 1,800 species? I love knowing that even if I tried I will never get to fully know all of the species that inhabit the world… evolution moves that fast! Keep your eyes on the look out for the arrival of new species…

J Shafagh's picture

Final Comments

I agree with Lavinia here.  I loved seeing all of my classmates' presentations, and each were interesting in their own ways and reflected on major themes and topic that we talked about this semester.  Everyone did such a great job!  And what was especially interesting was how each group/individual went about presenting what they learned and found interesting.  And I must say that during each class and through each week's forum discussion, I learned so much from every contributor's thoughts and opinions.  Each new concept, idea and thought made me re-think my own opinions and beliefs, and re-question many things I have previously believed.  I greatly enjoyed both the tuesday class meetings and the smaller groups on thursdays, which were nice because we had a more open and close discussion of topics.  The online forum is such an amazing asset to this class, for it allows us to reflect on the week's lectures, and to share our thoughts with the rest of the class.  The group dynamic was great, and the quality and opennes of the discussions was remarkable. I wanted to thank both professors for their wonderful guidance in the course, and to my classmates for sharing their thoughts and opinions with me this semester, challenging my own.  Now, I believe I have accepted the many implications that evolution can have, and have come to realize that biology itself is just a story that is getting things less wrong.  And I hope that over the years, I will continue to question and rethink different ideas, in pursuit of constantly getting things less wrong than before.

LF's picture

Last weeks presentations

Last weeks presentations were extremely interesting. It seemed as though we each selected parts of the course that stood out the most to us over the course of the semester and played with them. It was interesting to see which people chose what and whether that reflected their personalities from class discussions. There was a mixture of literature and science as well as a bit of comedy. It gave people that dont normally speak up in class a chance to express their opinions and impressions as well as hear responses to their work. I think that the group dynamic has certainly evolved since the beginning of the semester and people finished the class with much stronger opinions. Being able to voice our opinions so freely enabled the group to engage in interesting and entertaining discussions and I think we have all benefited greatly from this course.