Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe
The assassin’s bullet misses, the Archduke’s carriage moves forward, and a catastrophic war is avoided. So too with the history of life. Re-run the tape of life, as Stephen J. Gould claimed, and the outcome must be entirely different: an alien world, without humans and maybe not even intelligence. The history of life is littered with accidents: any twist or turn may lead to a completely different world. Now this view is being challenged. Simon Conway Morris explores the evidence demonstrating life’s almost eerie ability to navigate to a single solution, repeatedly. Eyes, brains, tools, even culture: all are very much on the cards. So if these are all evolutionary inevitabilities, where are our counterparts across the galaxy? The tape of life can only run on a suitable planet, and it seems that such Earth-like planets may be much rarer than hoped. Inevitable humans, yes, but in a lonely Universe.
• Controversial: this book opposes widely accepted theories of evolution • Exceptional coverage: from astronomy to molecular biology and archaeology • Written by a well respected worker in the fieldContents
The Cambridge Sandwich; 1. Looking for Easter Island; 2. Can we break the great code?; 3. Universal Goo: life as a cosmic principle?; 4. The origin of life: straining the soup or our credulity?; 5. Uniquely lucky? The strangeness of Earth; 6. Converging on the extreme; 7. Seeing convergence; 8. Alien convergences?; 9. The non-prevalence of humanoids?; 10. Evolution bound: the ubiquity of convergence; 11. Towards a theology of evolution; 12. Last word.Reviews
‘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.’ – Library Bookwatch
‘Life\'s Solution builds a forceful case for the predictability of evolutionary outcomes, their broad phenotypic manifestations. The case rests on a remarkable compilation of examples of convergent evolution, in which two or more lineages have independently evolved similar structures and functions. The examples range from the aerodynamics of hovering moths and hummingbirds to the use of silk by spiders and some insects to capture prey … I recommend the book to anyone grappling with the meaning of evolution and our place in the Universe, and to biologists interested in adaptation and constraints.’ – Nature
‘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
‘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