Speciation and Spirituality

This week I read an interesting article in New Scientist highlighting new research which is suggesting that “adaptation follows as a consequence of speciation, rather than contributing as a cause” and that “it isn’t the accumulation of events that causes a speciation, it’s single rare events falling out of the sky, so to speak.”

What does this mean in layman’s terms? Simply this: that species diversification is a far more likely to be triggered by reproductive isolation following climate change or some other arbitrary external cause than by natural selective pressures in and of themselves, and, that species tend to be “pushed” into diversification by emerging barriers rather than “pulled” into diversification by niche opportunities.

However, despite the obvious implications for the creation debate, my interest actually has nothing to do with that. In fact, it actually has far more to do with the implications for the evolution of culture and religion. How, for instance, is unequal access to web conversations effecting the reproduction of ideas within the Christian movement? Most people tend to think of the web as something that pulls us together, but because it does so at different rates it also has the potential to pull us apart, to trigger divergence.

Many, for instance, have noticed that generational gaps are sometimes more important than geographical gaps. Some have suggested the broader picture is one of time differentials becoming more important than space differentials in hyper-modern cultures. But if this is true other factors effecting speed of technological uptake and availability for connection are worth considering, these being educational level, personality type, geographical time zones, shift work, bandwidth access and differing web censorship laws. Where those factors come together we should be expecting to see web Balkanization … and we do. Time constraints and adoption speeds matter. We can expect more and more cultural gaps to emerge between slow communities and fast communities the faster this world gets. Think about how this could affect you locally.

3 thoughts on “Speciation and Spirituality

  1. Not to mention the proliferation of things like Facebook groups on very similar topics. You want to discuss something with A, B and C, but A is in group Z, B is in group Y, and C is in group X.


  2. Hi Matt — The article may have described something new, but your summary of it doesn’t do so. It has been a truism for at least 80 years that no mutation is prescient of it’s consequences (unless it’s a special intervention by God, who would be the only possible source of prescience). Though a staple of nature documentaries, any statement that “species X developed quality Y *in order to* surmount challenge Z…” is an anthropomorphisization of an impersonal process, and thus simply confused. Speciation is just a mutation with the inability to breed back into the original species, and the same applies. Stephen Jay Gould vs. Richard Dawkins on ‘Hopeful Monsters’ is useful in this respect.


  3. Howzabout all putting this stuff in layman’s terms? The above comments are extremely technical.
    Gene and stem cell manipulation could also be interpreted form of selective breeding and therefore lead to new species variations and mutations?
    In the area of plant grafting and other common types of agricultural processing – e.g. genetic engineering -new species variations are constantly being `born’.


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