I have a confession to make. It's embarrassing, even shame-making, but it must be admitted. I do not have a very big one! I know that because from time to time I have caught glimpses of other blokes and theirs are much bigger than mine. Even worse, and this is very hard to admit, there are some girls who have bigger ones than me!!! So what can I do about my brain? (Er, sorry, what did you think I was on about?)
I have just had a glimpse at the brain of Richard J. Bird through the medium of his book Chaos and Life: Complexity and Order in Evolution and Thought. It has taken me several weeks to get through it and my brain is hurting. It is a laughable impertinence for me to attempt a summary. It is also fairly risky for me to attempt it because there is a decent chance that I might have misunderstood it. Nevertheless, I will try and give you the central theme of the book for two reasons. First, if he is right, his thesis is of huge importance. Second, and more trivial, if he is right, he has blown Darwinism out of the water by offering a wider and deeper explanation of life that incorporates its place in the existence of the universe. (You can see why my brain hurts!)
In essence, he is proposing that life forms emanate from iteration, that is, the constant repetition of informational equations at the genetic level which are dynamic in that they incorporate the result of the preceding equation into the subsequent equation producing fractals. This phenomena is familiar to students of chaos theory who are aware that given a sufficiently long series of iterations, suddenly and without warning, new and strange forms appear. If this is correct, it goes a long way to explain the absence of intermediary species and the (relatively) short time that complex life forms have taken to evolve. Or to put it another way, Gould spotted the difficulties of stasis followed by evolutionary explosion but could not come up with a satisfying explanation. Dawkins, just denied the whole thing and insisted on slow, steady, inch-by-inch evolution. I should add, that it leaves Darwin safe in the minor proposition that within species, like his beloved finches on the Galapagos Islands, micro changes to physicality will take place in differing locations.
Anyway, my critics keep asking me to produce an alternative to Darwin's theory which of course I cannot do with my little brain, but Mr. Bird certainly has. Whether or not he is right, we must wait and see. Irrespective of all that, I urge anyone with an interest in these esoteric matters to read this book. It is formidable, particularly for those 'O'-level maths failures like me, but it can be understood, just, if taken in small doses. I need hardly add that I would be very interested in any critiques that people come up with. Perhaps by the time you have read it, this post might have sunk out of sight, so please just e-mail me and I will resurrect the subject.