Evolution and Literature

ekorn's picture

Survival of the Consumed

The story of evolution can provide a window into understanding the world. It lends us an explanation of how things have come into existence; and not only in a biological sense. The story has become more expansive and all-encompassing than we may even realize, and it can be used to account for aspects of society and culture. If we accept that the principal diagram for evolution draws on the idea of natural selection, then we can in turn rationalize the former ‘aspects’ from an evolutionary standpoint. Among the most rapidly changing, and therefore most visibly evolved, aspect of society is consumerism. The purpose of this paper is to explore how we can apply the story of evolution, beyond the context of biology, to understand how products have changed in order to adapt to our ever-changing personal needs as consumers.

llim's picture

Evolution as a Religion

For as long as they have co-existed, evolution and religion have butted heads. Religions decry evolution as a farce and evolution, in turn, condemns religion for touting what they believe to be a wrong and ignorant argument. Ironically however, both evolution and religion have evolved to mimic one another in certain ways. In order to maintain and attract more followers (ie: survive), religion has changed and adapted (ie: evolved). Meanwhile, evolution has grown closer to becoming a religion.

Evolution and religion are simply two philosophies set on opposite sides of the spectrum. On the abstract end, there is the intangible-based religion and on the other, more concrete end, lies evolution, relying on the tangible. Just as faith feeds religion, its opposite, reason, sustains evolution. It is reasoning that drives evolution forward and allows it to change. If new evidence is discovered to dispute an argument of evolution, it is simply changed to suit the newfound proof. Religion, on the other hand, relies on faith to move forward-if evidence is found to dispute a belief, it is ignored. In both, change is a necessity-in evolution, because it as a theory in itself, requires that change occur as more evidence is discovered and in religion because as time and society changes, it must adapt to remain attractive to new and current prospects.

Tu-Anh Vu's picture

A Reductionist Viewpoint on Evolution

Richard Dawkins’ theory of the Selfish Gene is controversial.  His theory suggests that biological organisms are vehicles or machines that carry genes.  Genes are the replicators that create biological organism; they function to replicate themselves and as a means to acquire resources.  Dawkins argues that natural selection operates at the genetic level and not the individual organism, since individuals are just programmed carriers.  The purpose of life for the organism is to provide survival and reproductive sites for genes.  Proponents of Dawkins’ theory assert that the main point is that the gene is the unit of selection, which completes and extends the explanation of evolution given by Darwin before the mechanisms of genetics were uncovered.  Critics argue that the theory oversimplifies the relationship between genes and the organism (The Selfish Gene).  I believe that a gene-centric view of evolution is a revolutionary way to view the selection process, but it is also a useful theory to explain many biological phenomena, such as altruism. 

LS's picture

In Evolution We Trust

The current struggle between religion and science leads to many heated and debated questions and theories.  Many of these questions surround the existence of god and of when and how this existence evolved into being.  The concept of religion and god evolved in human culture as a result of brain structure and survival adaptation. Biologically, god and religion evolved as humans’ first form of consciousness.  Specific brain structures and brain formations allowed and encouraged this.  In addition there are several social and behavioral adaptations in man’s early culture that promoted the existence of god and religion.  Both biological and socially, early mankind was suited for the evolution of god and related concepts. 

azambetti's picture

Cultural Relativism and Alternative Unions

Adult union and the consequent development of a family, exists throughout many world cultures.  Unlike the United States, where serial monogamy is the prevailing relationship category, many other cultures support a variety of adult unions, which would be illegal or socially unacceptable in the United States.  These alternative adult unions can be as diverse as the cultures themselves, confirming that there is no “universal system of ethics” (Dennett 494).  Taking a closer look at the “culturally strange” relationship arrangements in other countries, will help to increase Americans’ appreciation for and understanding of the social dynamics within those cultures, which ultimately leads to better cross-cultural communication. I think this communication must occur to prevent “ethics [from settling] into an … equilibrium” (Dennett 494).  I believe that the United States should encourage educational programs that discuss and appreciate the diverse cultural traditions such as those of the Na of China, the Tibetans of Nepal and the Indians of India.  Cultural relativism is the view that all cultures and beliefs are as equally legitimate as the next.  I am convinced that cultural relativism, and not ethnocentrism, needs to be the prime focus of all learning institutions to further encourage the understanding that alternative and seemingly “strange” relationship categories are often adapted by different social groups as a mechanism to cope with economic, religious and culture pressures. 

Shannon's picture

Inquiring Success through Stories: "Curiouser & Curiouser"

We as humans are unbelievably diversified. Each of us spawns from different races, socio-economic statuses, and regions of the world. We speak thousands of independent languages and have established ways of life. Biologically speaking, one person’s specific arrangement of genes makes him individually unique in the world. We are highly specialized people who strive to surmount the challenges presented by the world and attain new goals. What is the unconscious motivation that drives us to achieve our goals, gain knowledge, and discover new things? Despite the realization that each person is biologically distinct, the guarantee of man’s progress on Earth rests on the boundless leverage of curiosity. Inquisitiveness, in coalition with imagination, may prove unkind at times through the decisions we make in life, but they are useful scientific and literary tools. One of the motifs in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is steadfast curiosity, as he unfolds the tale of a young girl who gains maturity and valuable insights of the world via her fantastical imagination. Curiosity may have killed the (Chesire) cat, but it is an essential attribute to possess when striving for success in both the sciences and humanities.

Priyadarshini's picture

Interesting Article - Chimps making Weapons (At least the female chimps)

For First Time, Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 23, 2007; A01, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/22/AR2007022201007_pf.html

Priyadarshini's picture

Can Evolution Evolve?

Feb 16, 2007

CT's picture

Cracks in the “Crack”: the Limits of Humanity

We begin with the postulate of the “crack”1 in thinking about science. Each individual brings a different interpretation to a range of observations. In the world of cracks, each new perspective is valuable because it provides an alternative to the current theories, and allows for the growth of being “less wrong.” Individual subjectivity is necessary in this process, unlike traditional science where objectivity is lauded. Despite conventions of avoiding first person pronouns and attempting to remove the individual element, subjectivity is becoming more accepted in the scientific community. For example, the use of personal pronouns2 is being accepted as useful in helping people understand science not as the discipline of textbooks, but an organic body of knowledge. This enables us to expand the range of understanding which we have over our environment.

kaleigh19's picture

Why Teleology?

Submitted by: Katharine Baratz 

In the summer of 1925, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow went head-to-head over high school teacher John Scopes’s controversial decision to teach evolution in his Tennessee classroom. According to the Butler Act of 1926, it was at that time illegal to teach, in any Tennessee classroom, “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals,” [1]. At the conclusion of what became one of the most famous trials in the 20th century, Scopes was found guilty after a mere nine-minute jury deliberation and ordered to pay a fine of 100 dollars.

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