The Theory of Transcendent Evolution
Evolution is not a new concept. Aristotle, circa 335 BC, set about trying to deduce evolution, and began comparing the anatomies of animals to develop a realistic base on which to draw conclusions. Not much is known about his conclusions, if any, but a contemporary of his, Aristarchus of Samos, correctly deduced that the moon revolves around the earth, and the earth-moon system revolves around the sun. We must give the ancients their due - their perceptions are astonishing, given their primitive technologies.
The wisdom and findings of the ancients was lost to the western world for more than a millennium until Muslim scholars reintroduced Aristotle around 1000 AD. Seven centuries more passed before Maupertuis, anticipating genetic contributions, in his Essai de Cosmologie (1751), suggested the concept of survival of the fittest as an explanation of traits in existing animal species. Fifty years later Lamark in his Syteme de Animaux Sans Vertebres (1801), asserted that life forms change in a continual process of gradual modification throughout geological history.
Fifty-seven years later Wallace and Darwin presented their views on natural selection (1858). Darwin subsequently published his now famous Origin of Species (1859) suggesting that species mutate and evolve over generations; and The Descent of Man (1871), suggesting that humans and primates have a common ancestor. Herbert Spencer and Thomas Huxley promoted Darwin's work, and popularized the concept of evolution. Spencer, in his many-volume Synthetic Philosophy (1855-1893), extended the concept of evolution into human social structure, and coined the phrase "survival of the fittest." Later investigators firmly established just how genetic mutations occur in the DNA cells that encode an animal's characteristics.
Evolution of Species
The scientific discoveries of Darwin and others on the evolution of species resulted in a philosophical model of evolution that included mutation, isolation, environmental change, and survival of the fittest as causes of morphological changes across generations of a species.
Darwin is credited with postulating the first model or theory of evolution. He didn't invent species evolution. It was always there. Darwin observed it, pondered it, and was courageous enough to publish his observations, findings, and theories. To this day many damn Darwin and his followers for daring to allude that men and monkeys might be very distant cousins with a common ancestor in the very distant past.
Others after Darwin elaborated on and improved the model into a general Theory of Evolution. The theory, or model connects a string of isolated fossils that are morphologically similar, and assumes there may be a connection - that later fossils are of animals that may have descended from earlier ones, and over time and many generations changed their shape. The general theory has been extended to postulate that all life forms have evolved from a few simple original life forms.
The Theory of Transcendent Evolution is a continuation of prior work on evolution. Simply put, it proposes herein that processes of evolution occur by two separate strategies:
1. An upward strategy, termed transcendent evolution, whereby simpler entities congregate together to become a singular complex entity with the ability to reproduce itself; and
2. A lateral strategy, termed morphological evolution, whereby a particular entity form, particularly in life form species, changes shape, i.e., morphs, from one generation to the next due to mutations in the genetic coding during the reproduction cycle.
Moreover, transcendent evolution and morphological evolution intertwine in a complex dance, whereby the ability of entities to collect together and transcend into a singular, transcended entity may depend on morphological evolution to produce forms prone to collect together and unify. As soon as a transcended singular entity is formed, morphological evolution mechanisms begins to produce mutated forms with nearly every reproduction cycle.
Organisms have developed defenses to mutation, the initial link in the chain of morphological evolution. The first defense is that DNA appears to have some capacity to directly repair damage to its coding sequences. The second defense is sexual reproduction, which combines DNA from two different individuals, increasing the chance that 'correct' genetic coding is passed on to the next generation. The two defenses greatly slow the rate of morphological evolution in higher organisms employing them.
Transcendent Evolution Trail
In the theory of Transcendent Evolution, we observe that a series of entities exist wherein each higher level is an entity composed of the lower level entities. We postulate that the higher levels evolved from lower levels by a process we call transcendent evolution. Then the entity may mutate in a process we call morphological evolution, so that over time and generations different body shapes and structures appear. Morphological evolution is Darwin's species evolution, and its derivative theory of evolution.
Transcendent Evolution postulates that the order of transcendence from simple to complex is as follows:
Proto-matter: At some earlier time some sub-matter and/or energy is organized to form various proto-matter particles. Although we are unable to directly observe proto-mater forming, experiments in nuclear physics indicate that when atoms are bombarded with high energy particles, they break down into smaller particles - so we assume that somewhere in the past free proto-matter existed. We coin the term 'proto-matter' because these particles seem to have properties between pure energy forms and matter.
Atoms: Some proto-matter particles are organized in various combinations to form various atoms. Although we are unable to directly observe atom formation, experiments in nuclear physics indicate that when atoms are bombarded with high energy particles, they break down into smaller particles - so we assume atoms were formed from pre-existing smaller particles.
Molecules: Some atoms are organized in various combinations to form molecules. We can through our chemical experiments be fairly certain that atoms form into molecules and aggregate into complexes and chains. We do not actually see atoms grouping into molecules, as that process appears to be too rapid for us to record, and too tiny for our microscopes. What we see are the materials properties before we mix elements, and very different material properties after the chemical reaction - indicating molecules have formed.
Complex Molecular Chains: Some molecules are organized in various combinations to form super-molecular complexes and chains. We can through our organic chemical experiments form fairly complex molecular structures and chains, but have been unable to build from scratch those super molecules associated with life forms. However, research laboratories have been able to manipulate such super molecular complexes.
Viral Complexes & Cellular Organisms: We do not observe inert complexes of molecules forming a cellular organism or viral complex. All experiments in auto-genesis of life from inert matter have failed. All existing life forms appear to be replicated from pre-existing life forms. This is the weak link in the evolutionary progression proposed in Transcendent Evolution, and also in the general theory of evolution. But almost all biologist accept the theory that this leap from inert molecules to living cells or viral complexes did occur - perhaps eons ago under special conditions that are not prevalent today. It could also be that this transformation requires a specific set of catalytic complexes and sequences to occur, and we simply don't have the formula yet. The process may still be occurring somewhere unbeknownst to us.
We are fairly certain from biology experiments that cells are composed of large complexes of molecules, because we find many molecular complexes when we dissect a cell. We can actually observe the DNA molecular complex in a cell's nucleus uncoil itself, split into two strands, then recombine with another unraveled and split DNA strand from another source. In spite of the failure of auto-genesis experiments, we nevertheless postulate that at some time some super-molecular chains were organized into viral complexes and cellular organisms, such as paramecium and amoebas. It is at this stage that we first define life as existing.
Multi-cellular organisms: Some cellular organisms are organized into multi-cellular life-forms such as animals and plants. We can actually observe this leap in the first change of fertilized single-celled egg as it begins to divide into multiple cells. We can witness the progress of a single, independent cell dividing and re-dividing, and clustering into special groups, forming organs, limbs, eyes, brain, spine, and continuing until a baby animal hatches from an egg or passes through a mother's birth canal.
Humans: We don't know precisely at what stage morphological evolution commences, though we are fairly certain that all life forms mutate - from viruses to humans. At the multi-cellular level morphological evolution over time and generations produces a large variety of plants and animals, and eventually humans.
Soul: An individual multi-cellular creature has a collective will and life force that imposes order and cooperation within the creature. In a human we call this collective will or life-force the 'soul.' The soul is a transcendent property of the human, which is present to some degree in all multi-cellular creatures. We know that it exists because we can disrupt the life-force so that the being ceases to function and decomposes. This definition of 'soul,' as used herein, is a practical one. No supernatural connotations or existence outside the body are implied.
Transcendent Evolution: The observable mechanisms of transcendence appear to be:
The newly emerged entity has capabilities and properties far different from its components, greatly extending the new entity's power, influence, and reach into its environment. Precisely at what point transcendence to a new entity takes place is not known, but certainly at the point the entity acquires the ability to replace defective or expired components and to replicate itself.
Morphological Evolution: The observable mechanisms of morphological changes appear to be:
Background radiation, chemical toxins, and viral invasions are some of the actors that may cause mutations in organisms. The mutation is an alteration of the molecular sequencing or change in chemical elements in an organism's genetic coding. Genetic coding is contained within every cell of higher organisms in a complex chain molecule called DNA or RNA. RNA is a single-strand helix chain, while DNA is a double-strand helix chain. DNA appears to be able to repair much coding damage while it divides, while RNA appears to lack much coding repair capability.
Mutations appear to be occurring almost continually in every organism. Some of these mutations can cause cancerous cells to form, and organ breakdowns to occur, which are often debilitating or even fatal to the organism.
When mutations occur during the reproductive cycle, mutations can be passed to new generations, and often result in functional changes in internal components, and morphological structural changes in established species.
Most such mutations appear to be disadvantages and may cause descendents carrying such mutated genetic codes to be at a competitive disadvantage, and that genetic line to eventually self-extinct. A few such mutations appear to be neutral, and our propagated through generations without consequence. Very rarely are mutations immediately advantageous to the species.
Darwin based much of his work on the observation of living species isolated geographically from each other. There is little doubt that isolation contributes to specie differentiation over time.
Individual discontinuance, or death, appears to play an essential role in establishing mutated forms of species. Older generations pass away, replaced with newer, mutated generations. Death of the older generations insures that they can not continue to produce "genetically-correct" descendents.
Unpredictable, and often catastrophic, environmental changes interrupt and change established reproductive processes, balances in competition for essential resources, and predator/prey relations. This may from time to time result in producing an environment that causes some of the prior mutations to be more advantageous to posses than non-mutated individuals. Thus "survival of the fittest" may be more aptly expressed as survival of the most advantageous (or least disadvantageous) mutations over a changing environment.
Morphological evolution over time eventually produces advanced life forms such as humans.
Chaos: Evolution appears to prove its successful line of entities through the harsh and chaotic crucible of trial & error, and catastrophic environmental change. More failures than successes appear to litter the trail through time. It is, therefore, instructive for us to carefully note and practice those traits and behaviors that tend to promote survival, continuance in kind, and prosperity - least we join the failures and ourselves become extinct.
The topic of Evolution, both transcendent and morphological, continues into animal and human social structures. This topic is continued on the Social Evolution web page.
Related Links: Seventh Transcendence