ISCID News Editor
Member # 1417
posted 07. February 2006 05:56
Source: Milestones, John Templeton Foundation
How the World Became Complex
A Novel New Grant Competition
By Philip Clayton
...for many reasons “purpose” is viewed with suspicion in the natural sciences. The Consortium nonetheless agreed that there are genuinely deep questions in science that can lead to philosophical debate, and in this spirit they were anxious to foster new work on the emergence of biological and cultural complexity. Clearly, more complex organisms and behaviors have emerged^ over time. If science can understand this trend toward increasing complexity, philosophers and religious scholars can then reflect on its broader significance.
The evolutionary projects are examining specific instances of increased complexity^ in the biosphere, such as the emergence of intelligence. Thus a biologist, a computer scientist and a philosopher (Lenski, Ofria and Pennock) are using computer simulations to model the simplest systems that can detect information^ in their environment, store it, and employ it in subsequent actions. Employing the resources of palaeobiology — the study of organisms based on the fossil record — Sterelny, Bromham and Calcott are working to understand the emergence of species in the Cambrian Explosion, that short period about 530 million years ago in which a multitude of new life forms exploded onto the scene. Though there is no place for divine purposes in his work, Sterelny notes, “There is as it were natural purpose in the world, and the patterns of natural purpose are the patterns that selection generates.” Selection produces something like “ design^ for the survival of extinction.” If his hypotheses about macro patterns and higher-level selection^ are borne out, “to that extent you can talk about the design of species as much as you can talk about the design of the beak of the finch.”
Read the full article in Milestones, the John Templeton Foundation's e-zine.
To view a list of the awards made, visit the Cambridge-Templeton Consortium
[Emphases added by ISCID News Editor]
[Link-underlined terms with ^ indicate linked entry in ISCID Encyclopedia of Science and Philosophy as added by ISCID News Editor]
[ 07. February 2006, 07:22: Message edited by: ISCID News Editor ]