Evolution, Economics and Solar Power

Nothing I’ve ever read has effectively explained to me how evolution works.  I know there are mutations: the beneficial mutations lead to survival and reproduction while harmful mutations lead to death.  How, I’ve always wondered, can the amazing complexity and diversity of live arise from so many individual efforts of trial and error?  How many amazing traits have been lost because mutation #1 didn’t benefit it’s host and thus couldn’t be spread, even though it would have provided the perfect foundation for mutation #2?

I’d imagine that an Eastern answer would go something like this: evolution is a path and every step forward in that path leads to perfection while space/time (circumstance) creates impediments; but these impediments are only temporary, just like all things, and the correct mutations will be discovered and will spread.  A Western answer might go like this: some organizational force (God) has a plan and evolution is the unfolding of that plan.  The Western one naturally leads to the next question: how can I understand this plan?  Is the Pope going to tell me?  The bible?  Natural scientists?  My own Spirit?  I can more easy grasp the concept of a path than a plan, which is probably why I’ve been finding Eastern wisdom more effective than Western as of late.

The most effective wisdom tradition in explaining our world, in my opinion, is economics. I’d consider it a wisdom tradition because, like the others, it has it’s own concept of Ultimate Reality, Perfection, Oneness, etc: the free market.  If something bad happens in the world, it’s not because of a failure of the free market: it’s because the market wasn’t really free (and of course, can never be.)  The intersection of evolution and economics is playing out particularly obviously in the current quest for solar power.

The human organism is evolving an organ to create electricity out of the light from the sun.  At a trade show in San Diego hundreds of different designs, each financed by a deliberate amount of capital, are displayed to people with access to clients and/or more capital.  CNET took photos of their favorites. Take a look at these pictures and ask yourself if these don’t look like a bunch of different mutations; if this doesn’t look like evolution in action.  Some of these technologies (mutations) will prove beneficial and receive more capital (life) while others will die off.  We will evolve the ability to capture the sun’s energy.  The only questions are how soon and how much.

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