The First Will Be The Last

The First Will Be The Last

11 July 2022 Johannes Wirz 4312 views

A quantum physicist annotated one of his talks with the following words: «I will tell you things that you understand and that I understand. I will tell you things you don’t understand, but I understand. And finally, things will come up that you don’t understand, and I don’t understand.»

I don’t feel much different, because I look at the evolution of human beings from both an outside and inside perspective. I’ll start with a sketch of Charles Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution. When I speak of Darwin, I mean the ‹Synthetic Theory› formulated in the 30s of the last century. It aimed to include all disciplines, from anatomy and neurology to immunology and especially genetics.

Charles Darwin

Darwin gave up medical school because he could not dissect corpses. He was a nature lover and close observer and was given the opportunity to spend five years on the Beagle, a Royal Navy survey boat tasked with surveying the coastlines of all British colonies. When the ship anchored on the Chilean cliffs, Darwin observed different fossil mussels in the layers of sediment. He understood a lot about geology and knew that the lowest layer is the oldest and the top is the youngest. Thus, during the ascent, he discovered the change of mussels and other shellfish. On the Galapagos Islands, he noticed slight differences in related bird and plant species on the various islands. He came to the conclusion that a few birds from the South American mainland had arrived on the islands, dispersed, and must have changed shape over time – how is this possible? One of the books he read in his free hours on board was a publication by the English economist Malthus. He speculated about population growth, with which food production would not keep pace. According to Malthus, a struggle for survival seemed inevitable. It would come to a selection of the best adapted, the smartest human beings. This speculation provided the second pillar of the Darwinian theory of evolution: in addition to random variation – the principle of life that produces a diversity of forms – the best-adapted forms would always be sorted out: variation and selection.

This text is an excerpt from an article published in the weekly journal 'Das Goetheanum'. You can read the full article on the website of 'Das Goetheanum'.