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Love and the Music of Life:
Who leads the dance – the evolution of your genes or the song in your heart?

A program for Earth Literacies

Tuesdays: May 14, 21, 28, June 4.

Some people know that the essence of life (and perhaps of everything) is love – vulnerable and transformative relationships with others. But the dominant narrative in science does not see it that way. Conventional evolutionary biology suggests that the fundamental driver of life is the survival of our genes – and love, if it is relevant at all, is just a strategy our genes use to ensure their survival. In this view, our genetic inheritance determines our bodies, our behaviours and even our feelings, in service to the evolutionary imperatives of survival and reproduction. In a life driven by self-interest, are compassionate sentiments meaningless or delusional, or does the vulnerable song in our hearts have any causal role to play?

In this new 4-part course, I invite us to look behind the curtain – to explore the wonderous aspects of biology and evolution that challenge the orthodox gene-first view – and reveal the relationships between cognition, harmony and resonance, that puts the song in your heart back in the driving seat.

Over the 4 weeks I will be presenting some new scientific findings in biology and evolution, some not so new (but pretty cool) physics of vibration, resonance and harmony, and talking about the ‘music of life’ not just as a metaphor but as a serious scientific framework to build bridges toward love. It requires a new way of seeing everything – right down to the fabric of existence – one where vibration, resonance and harmony are not just metaphors but sufficient to displace self-interest and survival as the prime mover in all living systems. There is a lot of bridge-building to do – but if successful, the promise is that we might be released from the dominant narrative of self-interest, and open our hearts more fully to one another and our place in the natural world.

The format each week is a series of very short presentations introducing the science, and a lot of discussion time in between to explore the ideas with one another and make connections with enlightened ways of seeing the world.

The four-week course (4x 2 hours, on Tuesdays) will cover the following topics.

Week 1 (May 14th): Where did the love go? Reductionist science and the crisis of meaning.

How did we get in this mess? How did love get removed from the narrative? And does choosing love mean disregarding science and reason?

  • Reductionist science and The Crisis of Meaning.

  • Organisms as ‘lumbering robots’ at the mercy of our genes.

  • Worldviews and brain hemispheres – reason vs compassion.

Week 2 (May 21st): Dissolving roadblocks: Three big myths in the science of biology and evolution.

If there is some way for science to align with authentic universal love, then it would have to be a very different way of understanding our fundamental motives, the foundations of living systems and our evolutionary origins.

  • Three big myths in the science of biology and evolution:

    • "Organisms are constructed and instructed by their genes".

    • "Evolution by natural selection writes the script".

    • "Self-interest is the prime-mover".

  • The reality: It is not the competitive exclusion of one thing with another that explains biological creation, it’s the relationships between things.

Week 3 (May 28th): The music of life. How we orchestrate the activity and evolution of our genes (not vice versa).

  • ‘Relationships’ before life began - the physics of resonance and harmony (from pendulums to string theory and the fabric of existence in 15 minutes).

  • Who is in charge – the parts or the whole (genes or organisms)?

  • How songs of life could learn from experience, organise matter, and motivate it.

Week 4 (June 4th): Restoring meaning: What if we (and all living things) are not just products of a bottom-up mechanistic process but agents in the process of loving creation?

  • Can love (rather than self-interest) be the fundamental prime mover of life?

  • What if we (and all living things) are not just products of a bottom-up mechanistic process but agents in the process of creation?

  • What does love look like now? - Seeing each other and the natural world with new lenses.

Richard Watson is a professor in artificial intelligence and theoretical evolutionary biology at the University of Southampton in the UK. His research has developed an extensive unification of evolutionary theory and learning theory which he uses to address big questions about life, learning, evolution, cognition and love. His current work – explored in this course – uses this scientific foundation to unify opposing worldviews and support a more harmonious and compassionate view of life.

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