Darwin, Gaia, and Attenborough

In the Darwinian explanation of evolution, life forms compete for survival. They do so by adapting to the environment. Their path is one of chance. Random genetic mutations may provide, in time, a competitive advantage over others of the same species. Since intra-species evolution (but not inter-species evolution) has been proven, one could then focus on apparent anomalies.

I instance the change in colouration achieved by some insects which makes them invisible (in effect) against the colouration of the tree trunk or leaf against which these insects are sited. Do random mutation plus ‘natural selection’ ex plain this achievement adequately?

Perhaps Gaia had something to do with this. Remember James Lovelock? He claimed that there is a living entity which achieves balance in the health of Earth; which looks after Earth. This is a wonderful concept. Instead of random autonomous processes affecting survival, Gaia, the spirit guide of Earth, endeavours to influence the survival of life and its environments, in a balanced manner, as a self-organising system. Self-governing systems are apparently to be found in the Universe, at both macro and micro levels.

Then came David Attenborough on TV with his displays of adaptation in the relationships between plants and animals. The way he describes what happens suggests wilful evolutionary change by one party, to counter excessive damage by the relationship partner; this then produces a wilful evolutionary counter-change by the partner.

I instance a plant which apparently developed thorns to minimise the damage being done by a particular animal. In time, this animal developed a counter to deal with the thorns. The outcome was a balance in respective needs. What is significant here is that purpose (intention) seems to be involved.

Perhaps purpose is also provoked in Darwinian adaptation and in Gaia balance.