Homeostatic evolution

Sometime before 2002, I wrote, “The non-teleological view of evolution is that it is not really a biological process, but instead is the consequence of many smaller biological processes. Or look at it this way: the purpose of life is not to evolve; it just happens. But a teleological view of evolution likens it to a biotic process (roughly analogous to ontogeny). Evolution was intended/anticipated. I suspect much of the so-called junk DNA comes into play here. Is evolution really nothing more than a by-product of messy molecular interactions or is it far more sophisticated (itself being designed)? Concerning the cell and its contents, Bruce Alberts noted, ” But, as it turns out, we can walk and we can talk because the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered. ” More and more, I am coming to seriously think that in another few decades, another leading scientist will write, ” But, as it turns out, we exist because evolution has been much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered. ”

In 2004, I summarized as follows:

The description above amounts to a subtle, yet distinct, paradigm shift.  It doesn’t contradict a non-teleological view of life and evolution; it simply renders them myopic.  If life is a designed cybernetic system, front-loaded to carry out future objectives, evolution (even Darwinian evolution) becomes a function of the way life was designed. That is, Darwinian evolution becomes a part of a intended positive feedback loop, unleashing life’s inherent potential to modulate its systems of negative feedback systems to adapt to any changes in an immensely complex and noisy environment.  This process of modulation may then have been rigged as part of front-loading, such that a “direction” to evolution is possible.  It would be interesting to consider the possible machinery (itself under feedback control) that works to tap into the positive feedback of expansion. In other words, the cell is not a passive player simply reacting to random mutations.  It is an active player in its own evolution.

In 2005, I reviewed another article, concluding:

This study does not in any way indicate a fundamental flaw in Darwin’s Theory. Nor does it demonstrate that bacteria can target the specific genes needed to survive the environmental insult. What it does do is help us understand that life takes control of its fate. Living things are not passive participants of the interplay between stochastic events and environmental pressures, where mutations that just happened to exist are favored in an environment that just happened to exist. Instead, environmental challenges are met with a truly biotic response. First, the cells try to repair themselves. But if this fails, then they seek out an adaptation by maximizing their chances of finding an adaptation. Evolution is, at least, partially controlled by properties intrinsic to life.

While the teleological echo is faint, it is nevertheless there. We can begin to catch a glimpse of evolution as homeostasis.

Later in the same year, I explained how evolution as homeostasis was tied to front-loading:

Thirdly, and most importantly, these type of findings are expected from the hypothesis of Front Loaded Evolution. This hypothesis entails that the future is designed through the present. To do this, designs at one point in time must be carried across deep time. To design in this manner, we would thus predict that evolution is dependent on biotic context, as it is this context that houses the design. In other words, if evolution was purely a function of random happenstance propagated only because such events happened to elicit greater fitness against the backdrop of haphazard environmental conditions, we would predict that the ability to design the future through the present would be quickly be swamped by noise. But if there is a strong, intrinsic component to evolution, the designs are buffered against such loss.

So in 2006, I noted

I’ve long stated that front-loading is about channeling, rigging, even guiding evolution, where evolution is not simply a product of RM &NS, but a process whereby RM & NS are under control. The nature and extent of this control are the primary areas of focus for front-loading evolutionists.

In 2007, I suggested that we view the homeostatic essence of organisms as something that encapsulated evolution:

Organisms are, of course, interconnected through the web of evolution. As such, we can view organisms as Encapsulated Evolution. For example, the mechanisms by which vertebrates generate antibodies can be viewed as a general evolutionary strategy that has been condensed and amplified. The homeostatic essence of organisms may likewise reflect such evolutionary condensation.

And in The Design Matrix, I note, “Apparently, one of the first objectives of evolution was to control evolution.”

And then there is this:

A team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution.

One of the researchers, Raj Chakrabarti, notes, “Our new theory extends Darwin’s model, demonstrating how organisms can subtly direct aspects of their own evolution to create order out of randomness.”


The work also confirms an idea first floated in an 1858 essay by Alfred Wallace, who along with Charles Darwin co-discovered the theory of evolution. Wallace had suspected that certain systems undergoing natural selection can adjust their evolutionary course in a manner “exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident.” In Wallace’s time, the steam engine operating with a centrifugal governor was one of the only examples of what is now referred to as feedback control. Examples abound, however, in modern technology, including cruise control in autos and thermostats in homes and offices.


Applying the concepts of control theory, a body of knowledge that deals with the behavior of dynamical systems, the researchers concluded that this self-correcting behavior could only be possible if, during the early stages of evolution, the proteins had developed a self-regulating mechanism, analogous to a car’s cruise control or a home’s thermostat, allowing them to fine-tune and control their subsequent evolution. The scientists are working on formulating a new general theory based on this finding they are calling “evolutionary control.”


“Control theory offers a direct explanation for an otherwise perplexing observation and indicates that evolution is operating according to principles that every engineer knows.”

Just keep followin’ the Rabbit.

Speaking of that, why isn’t Inspector Bunny in this entry.  Give him some time.  Give him some time.


3 responses to “Homeostatic evolution

  1. Waiting on a response from Trevor Lithgow and Paul Gooley.

  2. So if Control Theory is a legitimate scientific theory, why isn’t intelligent design given any credit? Is it because there are not many proponents of this specific theory, or is it that the scientists themselvs are not “in favor” of ID? Sometimes reading this stuff shocks me that there aren’t more scientists out there with this same viewpoint? I have been looking for a good post to explain to my brother a more teleological view of evolution. Do you think I should use this post or are there any other suggestions?

  3. This wouldn’t be a bad one to suggest. Although this may be a better one to start with:


    And then there is the recent interviews with Insp Bunny. 🙂

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