Evolution v/s Change

Nick Corduan (nickc@IQUEST.NET)
Sun, 1 Oct 1995 13:21:13 -0500

OK, a few folks have pointed out to me that perhaps what I'm discussing is not
evolution, but rather change. I will elaborate on my resasoning here, but a
few prefacorial comments are required.

Forgive me for any repition in this message. I have had a lot of trouble of
late with my e-mail system crashing on me so, while I think I can recall
which messages never got out because of crashes, I may repeat myself arather

Also, I've been called an "evolutionist" by several peoploe which is humorous
to me on several counts. First of all, I'm an evangelical Christian
creationist, which makes that a label I'm not quite used to receiving! <BG>
Furthermore, though, I'm not advocating a belief in cultural evolution, per
se, but rather an application of some evolutionary concepts to our views and
study of culture and cultural history.

What are some differences between evolution and simple change? Well, I'd
argue that there are a lot fewer than you might think; development of any
kind really is a sort of evolution. But there are some reason that I argue
for a little more evoluation in cultural development:

1) The move to more complexity. Generally speaking, change could be any kind
of switch -- to something of equal complexity or even to something simpler,
but one of the characteristics of evolution (in general) is the progression
into higher and higher complexities. This is a clear trend among many
cultures. To make use once again of the Moche/Chimu analogy, the Chimu's
fortifications and political structure were not simply different from the
Moche's, but were more complicated.

2) The shared basis. "Change" could also refer to a switch betwen two things
which are largely unrelated (e.g. the ritual use of "blue" rather than
"red"), whereas "evolution" implies a common ground between the two
attributes. Careful analsysis of Chimu aqucentric attributes reveals not
that they are completely separate from anything in Moche, but rather that
they share many common elements, or at least a common antecendent/descendent.

3) The stimuli. Latly, "change" can be a whim, a la "I simply felt tlike
wearing blue today." "Evolution," though, involved the reaction to stimuli.
It's not simply that the Chimu felt like emphasizing water, just for the heck
of it, but rather a growing water-cult was their response to the increasing
role which water (i.e. rains adn floods) was playing in their lives.

These are just some of my thoughts and reasons for believing that they are
evolutionary concepts.


Nick Corduan "...there is as much dignity in tilling
at a field as in writing a poem."
(nickc@iquest.net) --Booker T. Washington