An alternative approach to the Darwinian: The basic assumption is that the creativity observed in nature is not an illusion but part of an objective reality. In the new picture evolutionary progress is not the result of a successful accumulation of mistakes, but is rather the outcome of designed creative processes in the genome.
What would have taken one thousand generations in the past may now happen in a single generation. Biological evolution is on a runaway course toward severe instability . . . . Our time recalls one of those major breaks in evolution signaled by massive extinctions. But there is a difference. The cause of instability is not the impact of a large asteroid or some other uncontrollable event. The perturbation is from life itself acting through a species of its own creation, an immensely successful species, filling every corner of the planet with continually growing throngs, increasingly subjugating and exploiting the world.
Christian de Duve
The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe must have known that we were coming. There are some striking examples in the laws of nuclear physics of numerical accidents that seem to conspire to make the universe habitable.
Could certain microbes, now occupying highly specialized, restricted niches, find the conditions we are creating more favorable and enjoy population explosions that trigger other events inhospitable to us? Changes in the sea in the past few decades should command our rapt attention — the sort of interest one might take in, say, the life-support system of a spacecraft housing all of the past, present, and future of humankind.
Today we can intervene in, and repair, genetic processes; this capability asks for knowledge that we don’t yet have. Future evolution will be not only on the genetic level; the human mind enables a faster roundabout of development. What happens in the future will involve humankind. Now, as before, the motto of evolution is still survival.
To the question, ‘What happens to species when environments change?’ the standard post-Darwinian answer became, ‘They evolve.’ . . . Here we have imagination colliding with common sense — and, worse, with empirical reality. . . . By far the most common response of species to environmental change is that they move . . . .
In our immediate need to discover more about ourselves we also note that what is common to all human beings in all history is … we humans are manifestly here for problem-solving… for local information-gathering and local problem-solving with our minds having access to the design principles of the Universe.
R. Buckminster Fuller
We are the Intelligent Designers we so abhor. . . . The process of evolution defines how we face the future. What “evolutionary skill-sets” do we, human civilization, have to steer our own evolution toward constructive, adaptive behaviors?
The 21st century technologies — genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR) — are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of mutations and abuses. Most dangerously, for the first time, these mutations and abuses are widely within the range of individuals or small groups. They will not require large facilities or rare raw materials. Knowledge alone will enable use of them. Thus we have the possibility, not just of weapons of mass destruction but of knowledge-enabled mass destruction (KMD), this destructiveness hugely amplified by the power of self replication. Failing to understand the consequences of our inventions while in the rapture of discovery and innovation seems to be a common fault of scientists and technologists. . . . As this enormous computing power is combined with the manipulative advances of the physical sciences and the new, deep understanding in genetics, enormous transformative power is being unleashed. . . . But now, with the prospect of human-level computing power in about 30 years, a new idea suggests itself: that I may be working to create tools which will enable the construction of the technology that may replace our species. How do I feel about this?
People who know about the dangers still seem strangely silent. When pressed, they trot out the ‘this is nothing new‚’ riposte, as if awareness of what could happen is response enough. . . . They complain, ‘Your worries and your arguments are already old hat.’ Bill Joy
You can’t plant an ecosystem…. But we’ve discovered intelligence…. There is a possibility that humans have a huge future because they are as desirable to the planet as the photosynthesizers were, a possibility that our descendants could make the whole planet intelligent and possibly extend its lifespan significantly.
Darwinian biology has been a wonderfully productive discipline…. But just as Newtonian physics was found incomplete at the particle and cosmic scales, so I think Darwinism is incomplete when it tries to explain the world beyond the phenotype. In particular, it fails to see that organisms do more than adapt to a dead, fixed world. They’re naturally seleced in a world that was changed by their ancestors, and in turn their interaction sets the theme for the next round of evolution.
We are now faced with a special dilemma. The very scientific method that allows us to study the natural world, be it interstellar organic molecules or memory in dolphins, also gives us the tools that treat the world as endlessly malleable, ostensibly for the common good but as often as not for the enrichment of the few and the impoverishment of the many…. Although science may emerge triumphant, it will be a pyrrhic victory; the conquered kingdom will lie in ruins, strewn across a plain of infinite melancholy.
Simon Conway Morris
One common Darwinist error is to purge the future.
J. Scott Turner
What if [Earth] is utterly unique: the only planet with animals in this galaxy, or even in the visible universe, a bastion of animals amid a sea of microbe-infested worlds? If that is the case, how much greater the loss the Universe sustains for each species of animal or plant driven to extinction through the careless stewardship of Homo sapiens?
Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee
Darwin’s dice have rolled badly for Earth. The human species is, in a word, an environmental abnormality. Perhaps a law of evolution is that intelligence usually extinguishes itself.
Edward O. Wilson
An Armageddon is approaching at the beginning of the third millennium. But it is not the cosmic war and fiery collapse of mankind foretold in sacred scripture. It is the wreckage of the planet by an exuberantly plentiful and ingenious humanity.
Edward O. Wilson
We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.
Edward O. Wilson
Microorganisms account for most of the biomass on the planet and are an essential foundation on which the global ecosystem rests. They play an absolutely essential role in the survival of the human race. My goal is to work for a recognition of what I feel is the real biology, a science that is not a half-science as it is now, but a science that stands along side of physics as one of mankind’s basic windows on the world, a science that can help man cope with his future, and not just solve immediate problems.