Bare Bones Biology 199 – Evolution

In Bare Bones Biology 198 ( and in the blog that was posted to FactFictionFancy the following day (, I listed six characteristics of all living things that make them responsive to the world outside of their own bodies.

That is an important definition of Life. Life and living things are responsive to the environment, and their environment is everything that is outside their own bodies. They are also responsive to the internal environment, which is everything that is going on inside their own bodies. Within physiological limits, Life is able to respond to change. If it can’t – it dies.

Most people notice this and think it is ordinary – of course — ! It is ordinary to us. We are alive. We eat, we walk, we talk, we try not to run in front of cars. But in the universe, so far as we know, the interconnected systems that can reproduce their own kind and recycle the materials of which they are made, and find food and use it to do those things – this is not ordinary.

110825droughtasc_3018sls-copyIt was the greatest and most marvelous event after The Creation itself, when a group of processes came together, to form a unitary system that was able to respond to the environment by moving toward food or moving away from noxious things. It was the creation of Life. Life is a system composed of a set, or sets, of processes that function to respond to the environment in which it lives by reproducing its own kind.

Six qualities that make life possible, that I listed in those last two blogs are: 1- Inheritance of traits; 2- Variability of traits; 3- Reproduction; 4- Death; 5- Transmission of traits to the following generation; 6 – Interconnectedness of the processes of one living system with all the other living systems on earth.

Those qualities are essential for all living systems and their subsystems — all species – to maintain Life on Earth. And the original “invention” of Life was the coming together of a group of processes that maintain life by responding to the environment in which they live.

Evolution is the Law of Life on earth; Evolution makes Life possible because Evolution is how Life responds to its environment. Without evolution there could be no Life as we know it on earth, because Life and living things must be able to respond to their environment or they could not stay alive. Think of the first breath of air that a newborn infant inhales. Think of the color of your eyes, or of your skin, that you inherited from your grandparents, or great-grandparents. If there were no evolution, Life could not respond to conditions in the environment and there would be no Life.

A living thing is a system that is able to respond to its environment to find food, water, air so that it can reproduce itself and continue staying alive generation after generation. It is the natural Law of Evolution that guides and balances all these processes of Life (and a myriad more) within all organisms and between all organisms and all other systems on Earth as the entire interacting set of systems continues to use the energy from food to respond to the environment and so to stay alive.

Evolution is NOT primarily survival of the fittest. Evolution is the natural process that permits living systems to respond to their environments and so to maintain and BALANCE all the processes that are required for living systems to stay alive — including life and death, reproduction, using food energy and cycling the water and nutrients through the whole interacting set of systems and subsystems. Therefore – if you still think of Evolution as “survival of the fittest,” or any other sound bite that is more simplistic than the holistic balancing act that Evolution actually is, you cannot understand climate change, and regardless if you are one of the bad guys or one of the good guys – if you win or if you lose — you cannot help to make wise plans for the future of humans on this living earth.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM 98.1, Bryan, Texas. A copy of the podcast can be downloaded here: