Governance of Evolution

Over a decade ago Walter Truett Anderson opened his book, To Govern Evolution, as follows:

"Evolution no longer follows the Darwinian rules that provided, for over a century, our best understanding of it. It is no longer an impersonal and mechanistic process obeying the remorseless logic of natural selection. That vision is as obsolete as its first cousin, Newton's clockwork cosmos. Today the driving force in evolution is human intelligence. Species survive or perish because of what people do to them and to their environments. The land and air and water system are massively altered by humankind which has become, as one scientist put it, ' a new geological force.' Even our own genetic future is in our hands, guided not by Darwinian abstractions but by science and medical technology and public policy. The world has changed; and the human species, which has wrought the change, is now being required to change in response to the conditions we have created."

"I am not here to argue that the human species ought to take responsibility for evolution on the planet, and begin through public and private institutions to make collective decisions about such matters. If that were the question to be decided I would advocate that we put it off for a few centuries or more--let things run themselves while we get accustomed to the idea of evolutionary governance, develop the appropriate ethics and myths and political structures, and perhaps mature a bit. However, that is not the question before us, since we are already governing evolution. This is the great paradox about the threshold: It is not out there ahead of us somewhere, a line from which we might conceivably draw back. We are well across it. To say that we are not ready for evolutionary governance is equivalent to saying that a teenage child is not ready for puberty; the statement may be true, but it is not much help."

"We have made the transition into acts of evolutionary governance, but we have not yet developed a concept of evolutionary governance. ... This is the project of the coming era: to create a social and political order--a global one--commensurate to human power in nature. The project requires a shift from evolutionary meddling to evolutionary governance, informed by an ethic of responsibility--an evolutionary ethic, not merely an environmental ethic--and it requires appropriate ways of thinking about new issues and making decisions. It involves public policy: matters of survival and extinctions are already being legislated everywhere. ... It involves a general recognition, one that will have to be articulated throughout human society, that the human species has developed a specialized role in the global ecosystem...."

Source: Responsible for Your Rose