Evolutionary biology and the meaning of life

An interesting aspect of evolutionary biology is that it’s related to many of philosophy’s key issues, issues and questions with which philosophers deal since philosophy’s Hellenic dawn. One of these questions, which we could easily rank as the most fundamental of all, is about the meaning of life. This brief post is just an outline of the opinion that I have, but that still I would like to share, about the relationship between evolutionary biology and the meaning of life. Continue reading

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Can you really get in the way of evolution?

A few years ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about stranding of cetaceans. It’s been a long time since I stop to research on this subject, which has interested me a lot when I started to study biology, and so I’m not aware of the further developments and the latest favoured hypothesis about this phenomenon. I remember, however, having read that the amount of worms found in many of the stranded dolphins and whales was higher than normal for those particular species. Regardless of whether this parasitic infection was cause or consequence of organic changes leading to stranding, one of the assumptions at the time was that the large amount of worms in some way would interfere with animals’ orientation, which ends up stranding. I said that to my friend, and her answer is the reason I’m writing this post. She said “but if we rescue and save these stranded dolphins, won’t we be preserving animals genetically susceptible to worms, which will thus propagate their bad genes? I mean, by saving these animals, are not we getting in the way of evolution, since these animals would necessarily die?” Continue reading

What does evolutionary trend mean?

The subtitle of this blog is no foresight, no way back. For those who don’t know it, this quote if from the famous British biologist Maynard Smith. I think it’s time for explaining a little better what this phrase means, because it is an essential introduction to the subject being treated in this very post: biological evolution is not teleological, i. e., no evolutionary changes occur aiming an ultimate end, or a predetermined destination whatsoever. Evolutionary changes occur, that’s it. And sometimes not even that: changes themselves are not a natural need, that is, a population can be maintained for an indefinite period of time without major evolutionary changes, even if the environmental conditions have been modified in this period. Evolution can occur: it is not, however, an obligation. Continue reading