In a crisp, passionate argument sure to draw the wrath of many biologists, Simon Conway Morris defends his belief that evolutionary science is misguided without a somewhat religious notion of the significance of human intelligence and existence. At the same time, he is careful to distance himself from creation "scientists" by reminding readers that:
Evolution is true, it happens, it is the way the world is, and we too are one of its products. This does not mean that evolution does not have metaphysical implications; I remain convinced that this is the case.
He uses convergence as his foundation, defining it as "the recurrent tendency of biological organization to arrive at the same 'solution' to a particular 'need'" and offering a multitude of examples, including eusociality, olfaction, and the generation of electrical fields. In outlining the direction and inevitability he believes is inherent in evolution, Conway Morris stacks up compelling evidence in the form of a revealed "protein hyperspace" that limits the possibilities of amino acid combination to a few, often repeated (pre-ordained?) forms. While he skirts a focus on the relentless environmental pressures that result in adaptation, Conway Morris also derides the notion that the gene rules evolution. He accuses his opponents (primarily Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins) "genetic fundamentalism" who use "sleights of hand, special pleading, and sanctimoniousness... trying to smuggle back the moral principle through the agency of the gene." Dense with examples and complex biological proofs, Life's Solution is not an easy explanation of convergence for general readers. Still, it is a clear and exciting elucidation of the theory that evolution might have predictable outcomes, even for those who find Conway Morris' metaphysical arguments unconvincing. --Therese Littleton
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Life's Solution is an absorbing presentation written to challenge and inform the mind of the reader. Life's Solution is a superb contribution to both Contemporary Philosophy Studies academic reference collections and University level and Evolutionary Biology reading lists." Is Library Bookwatch, December 2003
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"Simon Conway Morris's bold new book, Life's Solution, challenges this Darwinian orthodoxy by extending ideas he presented in his Crucible of Creation. Conway Morris presents scores of fascinating examples that are less familiar. The lesson is clear. The living world is peppered with recurrent themes; it is not an accumulation of unique events." -- New York Times Book Review
"Simon Conway Morris's bold new book, Life's Solution, challenges [the] Darwinian orthodoxy by extending ideas he presented in his 'Crucible of Creation'...Conway Morris presents scores of fascinating examples that are less familiar. The lesson is clear. The living world is peppered wtih recurrent themes; it is not an accumulation of unique events." New York Times Book Review
"Are human beings the insignificant products of countless quirky biological accidents, or the expected result of evolutionary patterns deeply embedded in the structure of natural selection? Drawing upon diverse biological evidence, Conway Morris convincingly argues that the general features of our bodies and minds are indeed written into the laws of the universe. This is a truly inspiring book, and a welcome antidote to the bleak nihilism of the ultra-Darwinists." Paul Davies, Author of Mind of God
Praise for previous book... "Having spent four centuries taking the world to bits and trying to find out what makes it tick, in the 21st century scientists are now trying to fit the pieces together and understand why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Simon Conway Morris provides the best overview, from a biolgical viewpoint, of how complexity on the large scale arises from simple laws on the small scale, and why creatures like us may not be the accidents that many suppose. This is the most important book about evolution since The Selfish Gene; essential reading for everyone who has wondered about why we are here in a Universe that seems tailor-made for life. John Gribbin, Author of Science: A History
"Morris gives a detailed and fascinating account of numerous examples of evolutionary convergence, ranging in scale and complexity from molecular functions to physiology, morphology, sensory organs, behavior, complex social systems, and, finally, intelligence. Highly recommended for both academic and larger public libraries." Library Journal
"If you have not done so ... read Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe." Toronto, Ontario Globe & Mail