Chaos and Life
Complexity and Order in Evolution and Thought
AUTHOR: Bird, Richard J.
PUBLISHER: Columbia University Press
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Why, in a scientific age, do people routinely turn to astrologers, mediums, cultists, and every kind of irrational practitioner rather than to science to meet their spiritual needs? The answer, according to Richard J. Bird, is that science, especially biology, has embraced a view of life that renders meaningless the coincidences, serendipities, and other seemingly significant occurrences that fill people's everyday existence.
Evolutionary biology rests on the assumption that although events are fundamentally random, some are selected because they are better adapted than others to the surrounding world. This book proposes an alternative view of evolving complexity. Bird argues that randomness means not disorder but infinite order. Complexity arises not from many random events of natural selection (although these are not unimportant) but from the "playing out" of chaotic systems-which are best described mathematically. When we properly understand the complex interplay of chaos and life, Bird contends, we will see that many events that appear random are actually the outcome of order.
PUBLICATION DATE: 11/26/2003