The discussion of evolution and its theories in Chapter 2 of World History and the Eonic Effect (WHEE) remains relevant even after almost twenty years, a sign of the frozen state of evolutionary theories. There is nothing complicated about it, in essence: the failure of natural selection is the only key concept in such a critique. This situation is changing but even now a simple declaration of the failure of natural selection is muted or absent in the innovative still sidelined books on ‘evolution’.
The first section of the material invokes the simplest idea: the idea of development as key to any discussion. It is hard to find anything more obvious but the problem is that the idea invokes crypto-teleological thinking and this the proponents of ‘science’ can’t allow. Reality will frustrate that dogmatic stance, in the hallucination that random evolution is going to resolve the mystery.
2.1 The Legacy of Darwinism
At a time when theories of evolution are under renewed controversy, discussion is hampered by the remoteness of the phenomenon of evolution, and the use of indirect inference to speculate about deep time. In the face of much criticism from religious Creationists, now accompanied by the Intelligent Design movement, adherents of Darwinism forever defend a flawed theory that has been challenged from its first appearance. The objections of the first reviewers of Darwin’s book, indeed even of T. H. Huxley, the original champion of the theory, were never quite answered in the tide of paradigm change that swept modern culture. The perennial issue is natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. The assumption that evolution occurs, and must occur, at random is the crux of the dispute, one unreasonably confused by the claims of religion versus science.i
The rise of molecular biology shows a complexity of structure that cannot easily survive statistical challenges to claims of random emergence. The new genetics and the emergence of developmental biology have exposed the limits of Darwin’s original theory, in the remarkable findings of complex biochemical systems and evo-devo. Therefore the critics, whatever the public pronouncements of Darwinists, have essentially won the debate, and retabled the views of many of Darwin’s predecessors at the birth of embryology in the generation before Origin. We might proceed on that basis, beyond the distracting cultural politics of evolutionary theories, which now sees the resurfacing of the design theology of the generation of Paley. Nothing in the methodology of science requires us to accept the claims of natural selection as established.
The Developmental Perspective Although the findings of so-called ‘evo-devo’ have already been grafted onto the mythology of natural selection, they raise the question of developmental interpretations of evolution, thence of natural teleology. As we examine world history in light of the eonic effect a developmental sequence unconnected with genetics emerges with a demonstration of evolutionary directionality visible as macroevolution over five millennia. The representation of teleology as intermittent directionality suddenly gives meaning to the idea of ‘punctuated equilibrium’. World history has its own ‘evo-devo’, with no connection to genetics.
The new developmental perspective, although essentially genetic, strengthens once again our suspicion of processes that go beyond the selectionist account. The problem is one of observation. Evolution at close range is very difficult to observe. Darwinism applies a universal generalization to unseen events and claims in advance of demonstration that natural selection is the mechanism, frequently on the basis of no observations at all. As if Newton’s second law were taken forth from physics, Darwinism assumes no differential transformations at short intervals are to be found in the immense interstices of time they take for granted. Was this a theory or the absence of one? ii
The Limits of Observation Claims for natural selection are all too conveniently pressed into service to cover over the absence of close-range empirical data, and drive out considerations of real evolution, which might be difficult to observe. This certainly holds true for human evolution, whatever the case for earlier eras of evolution. If we discover high-speed macro processes in history that can produce totalized cultural transformations at the level of centuries and less, witness the Axial Age, the Darwinian focus on selectionism is up in the air at once. The true record of real evolution may have been lost altogether. The observational standard for the Axial Age, a sub-pattern of the eonic effect, is that of centuries or less