Toward a general theory of evolution: Extending Darwinian theory to inanimate matter
Department of Chemistry, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva, 84105, Israel
Journal of Systems Chemistry 2011, 2:1 doi:10.1186/1759-2208-2-1Published: 7 June 2011
Though Darwinian theory dramatically revolutionized biological understanding, its strictly biological focus has resulted in a widening conceptual gulf between the biological and physical sciences. In this paper we strive to extend and reformulate Darwinian theory in physicochemical terms so it can accommodate both animate and inanimate systems, thereby helping to bridge this scientific divide. The extended formulation is based on the recently proposed concept of dynamic kinetic stability and data from the newly emerging area of systems chemistry. The analysis leads us to conclude that abiogenesis and evolution, rather than manifesting two discrete stages in the emergence of complex life, actually constitute one single physicochemical process. Based on that proposed unification, the extended theory offers some additional insights into life's unique characteristics, as well as added means for addressing the three central questions of biology: what is life, how did it emerge, and how would one make it?