THE SYNTHESIS PERSPECTIVE

The purpose of the above was to outline some problems with the current interpretation of evolution. However, just as the belief in chance being the main driving force is impossible to prove, an attempt to conclusively demonstrate that such a belief is incorrect is equally futile. Anything can happen by chance. Given an infinitely large eco-system and infinite time, everything is possible (although not necessary). But the eco-system of this planet is not infinite, and the time available, although huge, has not been infinite. So, the real challenge is, given these limitations, to provide a framework that is more plausible. It certainly makes sense to consider an interpretation that would give life and the evolutionary process a fair chance, rather than an astronomically small one.

In the mass of arguments and counter-arguments it is easily overlooked that Neo-Darwinism and Creationism have something in common. In both interpretations, life is essentially a passive material, moulded either by the all-powerful external agency or by ‘blind' natural forces[1]. The evidence, however, suggests a different picture. Species not only adapt to, but also actively create the environment (the present composition of the Earth's atmosphere, for example, is to a large extent created by the activity of organisms). Life has played a key role in maintaining and modifying its environments, which made possible not only its continuation but also the appearance of new and more complex forms. Thus, the Synthesis perspective considers life an active participant in this process, and suggests two additional factors that influence evolution - the one on the micro level and the other on the macro level. The first is individual choice and the other one can be called evolutionary intent. So, the process of evolution is seen as the result of natural selection and mutations that are not completely random, but influenced by individual choices and an overall accumulative tendency of life to grow and develop. In other words, a creative act is moderated by environmental restrictions. In principle, this is not something that goes against the grain of the theory of evolution. Darwin himself confessed: ‘I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification' (1859, p.69).

  • [1]. The Neo-Darwinian orthodoxy that adheres to the Newtonian mechanistic model does not permit any permeability between the internal (e.g. genes) and the external (the environment). In other words, phenotype (behaviour, experience and the other characteristics of an organism) cannot affect genotype (its genetic constitution). So, not only is life completely passive, but the environment has only a selective function. According to this view, ‘blind' chance and ‘blind' nature work in parallel (or in sequence) but they do not interact.