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Ongoing debates: convergence as the principle cause?

The third view assigns a still more prominent role to the environment and so considers convergence to be a significant force. Where a ‘Gould’ landscape has an arbitrary or flat shape when viewed from a great distance, this view holds that all life on Earth has a fitness landscape with a specific planet-wide morphology because all terrestrial life faces similar challenges. For example, Earth currently presents all land mammals with the same oxygen-rich atmosphere of a particular pressure and a 1G gravitational field. These factors will constrain the kinds of organisms that could possibly evolve. While allowing that the fitness landscape is shaped by chance events such as asteroid impacts, this view characterises such changes as only minor wrinkles that do not substantially change the overall contours of the landscape. This view considers one of the causes of biological history to be the particular properties of the Earth-environment as a whole. It is agnostic as to the cause of the ‘biofriendly’ nature of the Earth.

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Ongoing debates: convergence as the principle cause?

[1] Does Evolution ‘do the work of a friend’ for the Christian Religion?
Setting the scene - why focus on providence?
[2] Supposed challenges from the evolutionary sciences to theology
Intellectually fulfilled atheists?
A challenge to human uniqueness and status?
A challenge to purpose in creation?
A threat to the veracity of scripture?
Evolution ‘explains away’ theology?
A challenge to Christian morality?
The challenges in wider context - Darwin as a scapegoat?
[3] The current state of the evolutionary sciences
Different ways of conceptualising Darwinian evolution
Evolution as chance and necessity
Evolution as an algorithm
Evolution as movement within a ‘fitness landscape’
Ongoing debates: contingency versus convergence
Ongoing debates: what are the key causal factors in biological history?
Ongoing debates: the environment as the principle cause?
Ongoing debates: ‘Universal biology’ as the principle cause?
The importance of moving from evolution as abstraction to particular history
Ongoing debates: directionality and progress
Ongoing debates: the origin of life
Different levels and kinds of selection?
[4] Responses from theology
Evolution, probabilities and providence
Responses from contemporary theologians
Holmes Rolston III
Keith Ward
John Haught
Arthur Peacocke
An increased role for general providence?
Theology of Creation in the light of evolution: three scenarios
[5] Concluding remarks


Adrian Wyard
Adrian M Wyard MSt

See also:

The Relation of Science & Religion
Purpose and Design
The Argument From Design
The Anthropic Principle
Charles Darwin
DNA Double-Helix