Gaps in Evolution - Part I
Deepak Chopra - August 28, 2005

My last few posts were prompted not just by the recent debate 
over "intelligent design" but a desire to see an adequate theory 
emerge that will include the origin of consciousness. This is really 
the missing link, if there is one.

Negative response to my earlier blogs insist, sometimes vehemently, 
that all the gaps I point out in evolutionary theory have been solved 
or refuted. In this I am afraid they disagree with evolutionists 
themselves. The essence of the problem, I feel, is that a purely 
materialistic explanation of evolution is bound to fail through 
incompleteness. There is no molecular explanation for consciousness, 
only a fad for believing that molecules must be the end all and be 
all of science.

For anyone who hasn't already been worn down, there are further 
points to be made about the current state of evolution:

1. Being honest with themselves, biologists know they don't have an 
adequate evolutionary theory. Being equally honest, religionists know 
that the fossil record must be true. Trying to pretend otherwise, on 
either side, will only stymie progress. Religionists may be a poor 
representation of the notion that there are invisible realities, but 
to call such ideas absurd disregards the entire field of quantum 
physics and thousands of years of philosophy. The mind-body problem 
still awaits a solution as well, and since Darwin tries to explain 
the body, we might as well keep going and see if the mind is 
susceptible to explanation as well.

2. The two sides in the current public debate share the same obstacle-
-prejudice. The religionists must protect their preconceived idea of 
a God who resembles a human being. Scientists must protect 
materialism and its denial of consciousness (i.e., everything can be 
explained without bringing in consciousness at all). These prejudices 
are powerful, but I have tried to separate myself form both. God may 
be the pinnacle of a natural continuum, beginning at the subatomic 
level, of a pervasive organizing intelligence. The difficulty here is 
not that this proposition is preposterous but that it is hard to know 
how to test it, or even what criteria should be used.

3. Physics, mathematics, and biology mesh in the most astonishing way 
to produce life. What this tells us is that intelligent design looks 
fairly probable simply because it meshes the three fields 
holistically. Religion has the great advantage that it, too, is 
holistic. Everything comes from God. This is why science succeeds in 
explaining parts but has not conquered religion in explaining the 
whole. But if that is too much for materialists to stomach, it's 
undeniable that life will only be understood as part of a Theory of 
Everything. What we face is a wholeness--the universe--whose parts 
are subsumed into a hierarchy. that extends to the quantum level and 
beyond, that includes all time and space and beyond. Science will not 
arrive at a Theory of Everything without transcending those 
boundaries, as religion already attempts to do. True, the answers 
given by religion are experimentally useless to science. But the 
answers of science are fairly useless to religion, which is a 
legitimate endeavor on its own terms. I personally think that 
consciousness resolves more issues than either camp, and in my 
writings I have detailed why in careful, fair arguments.

4. Darwin was tremendously successful in conquering the tradition of 
teleology, which in its simpler, religious form said that God created 
each creature as its own kind and with its own purpose. But teleology 
didn't die. It is a more general theory with many implications. 
Teleology is the notion that purpose underlies process. Evolutionary 
science thinks teleology is rubbish, even though it admits that every 
adaptation serves a purpose. So purpose is undeniable. It will become 
respectable science once we ask a basic question: "How did human 
beings acquire purpose?" From our brains? Every process in the brain 
serves a purpose. The two must be linked, and to say that purpose 
preceded process is much more credible than to say the reverse. If 
process precedes purpose, then not only could a thousand monkeys 
typing at a thousand typewriters produce Shakespeare, but we are left 
with the ridiculous notion that Shakespeare himself worked that way, 
at the level of brain chemistry. Meaning seems to be inherent in 
evolution, since all creatures live out a purpose.

5. Recently cell biologists have discovered incredibly 
complex "molecular machines," bundles of interlocked organic 
chemicals that travel throughout the cell to do complex jobs. 
These "machines" defy randomness, since they do the same jobs, such 
as cell division and repairing genetic malformations, the same way 
over and over without breaking up into component parts. And when 
random molecules enter the cell wall, they immediately join a machine 
without wandering around the cell aimlessly. Chaos theory is fondly 
regarded in many circles, but the preponderance of design is just as 
important. What we humans perceive as chaos and randomness may be 
procedural stages in the creation of forms. Genesis can be seen not 
as a singular event but a constant in nature. Reconciling chaos and 
order would tell us a great deal about a something closer to home, 
the interrelation between life and death.

6. It appears foreseeable, if cyber theory is right, that every 
process in Nature will be reducible to digital information. No matter 
how complex it seems, everything from a neuron to a star can be 
decoded as zeros and ones. This submission to binary logic makes it 
credible that Nature developed the logic first, leaving us to 
discover it. Otherwise, we are left with an "accidental" 
correspondence between information theory and Nature's workings at 
the quantum level. Very unlikely, since logicians originally came up 
with digital theory without knowing much about the quantum level. The 
correspondence was there before anybody realized it. The possibility 
that mathematics itself may have a transcendent source is a 
philosophical issue of much interest.


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