Biological evolution as internal dynamics

Characteristics and definition with examples of non-biological evolutionary systems

Book front cover of the Conditional Evolution of Life. Seahorse and goldfish.



Author: José Tiberius



2.a.1. The biological evolution

Various aspects hinder understanding biological evolution theories because the immediate or intuitive perception of relationships is low in fields outside the everyday world.

Especially in complex systems theory, there are two typical cases: the study on a different spatial scale –either microscopic or macroscopic about our size– and, on the other side, within a long-term analysis.

In biological evolution and genetics, the cellular growth or lower range like DNA, protein, bacteria, or virus is microevolution. Our regular scale, where we humans find ourselves is the macro or macroscopic level. If we were talking about astronomy, the concepts would vary accordingly.

Human beings interact on the microscale in genetics, which implies a non-intuitive world.

When the news talks about 325 billion cells; it makes no difference if it says 830 billion cells; and, not to mention, if it talks about molecules or the number of DNA letters.

When it states the monkeys’ genome differs by only 1% from the human, it seems very similar. What would happen if it tells the same, but with the absolute quantity of the known DNA letters in which they differ? As well, what does one DNA letter mean?

Nonetheless, a trick not to get lost is to reason about the fractal theory where specific models maintain their structures when changing the scale. In the case of biological evolution, life would behave similarly in the micro and macro range.

It does not mean at all that it is not possible to adjust some variables or concepts. At times, the change of scale creates a noticeably different model because new forces or relationships come into play. The classic example could be the individual's behavior against the crowds.

An essential element of evolutionary theory is its characterization as internal dynamics or external perception.

Firstly, the simple combination of some elements will always give a subset; that is, a new item will never appear in the mixture, so evolution could not exist. Using a simple analogy of a game with a Spanish pack of cards, a card from an English deck will never appear when distributing the cards. Likewise, the same occurs going backward, that is, to see the origin of life.

As a result, even for the biological evolution understood as external perception, it is necessary to accept internal changes. Now then, if those internal changes are entirely unknown, the standard solution for science is to declare them implicitly or explicitly random.

It needs a considerable imagination to believe with random changes in each card's pattern could appear a card from an English deck.

Moreover, let us look at the significance of choosing one focus or another for some real, but non-biological, examples of modern society:

  • The development of cars

    This example allows us to see two types of approaches. On the one hand, we could argue that the consumers have created the market’s demand by making their choice. This demand makes it so that those cars more adapted to their preferences are bought and allow companies to continue their production.

    However, the market reaches an equilibrium when supply and demand are equal. The former will depend on the production cost, including materials, labor, and research and development.

    Remaining just with demand as a cause of vehicles’ evolution would be ignoring all men and women’s efforts to improve labor materials and productivity.

    On the other hand, cars’ demand and supply result from the car industry's general objectives. We can cite improving performance or velocity, increasing security, and the speediness in transmitting the technological advances to the market.

    La Gioconda Louvre Museum
    Leonardo da Vinci
    The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci in the Louvre museum.

    In short, the demand for cars has always existed; indeed, the Romans would have also wanted to have modern vehicles! The driving force in cars’ evolution has been the supply that has materialized each time a different model comes out.

    We should take into account that although the example is not of pure biological evolution, the market for cars is a direct result of human activity or man's natural progression.

  • Personal computers

    This case includes the supply, demand, and all the elements and reasoning in the previous example with greater clarity.

    Moreover, there is an additional fact in which software creation is necessarily parallel to hardware development. It would be useless having the Windows 2000 program if we have a personal computer with a chip-type 386 AT, at 16 kHz, and only 640 Kb of memory. In other words, this program would not exist if there were not any faster computers.

    Admittedly, in man’s biological evolution, the development of specific elements needs others or that some conditions are present.

    A new aspect from the previous example is the similarities between the personal computer and the human brain. Deep down, there are two different systems, but with the same purpose: keeping and maintaining a vast quantity of information.

  • Languages

    Languages are different; they evolve and perfect themselves, but the market laws and demand are not part of a personal system. Nonetheless, the study of any language’s general intrinsic objectives continues surprising because it seems quite a bit like man’s evolution and those previously mentioned.

    Language accepts fast changes but always within a structure of increasingly strict grammar rules guaranteeing its continuation. Usually, the linguistic system will try to maintain the coherence of the meaning to hold desirable communication. Of course, it will increase the number of words and concepts associated with them insofar as possible; that is, the subjects’ semantic capacity.

    This last point is crucial since, in short, it is what is going to give mostly the evolution of language.

  • Modern nation

    The analogy with a state is complicated since there are not any clear market laws here either. However, they appear with greater clarity at the root of the economy's current globalization and other human activity aspects.

    Each system will have particular objectives, but it is easy to detect the general goals quickly. In a state or nation, the political system is essential for its development. Nonetheless, its political system tends to relate to its citizens’ culture in a broad sense.

    On the other hand, the states belong to a different scale from the human level, and the results of any short-term analysis will be subject to countless factors. In a long-term review, their strength will depend on the evolution of the citizens.

  • A person’s life

    A more straightforward example is the development of a person because we are intimately familiar with it. Personal goals’ success depends on the competition, but the critical factor is the individual capacity and job. That is, own evolution depends on oneself. Of course, surroundings affect the internal dynamics, but inner dynamics are still responsible for the particular advancement.

  • The artist

    The example of the artist is also illuminating some characteristics of biological evolution. Analyzing the development of a famous painter's work throughout life probably allows us to identify different stages in the painting. For instance, it will be easier to discover the theme or the use of colors or tones.

    The evolution of the paintings will be elements like the artist's work, age, economic situation, and the individual position in the face of social development. Otherwise, it would deny the artist's influence on the progression of the work.

In light of these examples, the concept of biological evolution, in the strict sense, refers to the global change of things and not only of their appearance. This view of the philosophy of life will help a better understanding of the origin of life.