Intelligent life is more likely than black holes are to be an
adaptation designed by cosmological natural selection, an
evolutionist from Brunel University London speculates.
Writing in the journal Complexity, Dr Michael Price takes an
adaptationist view on the theory of cosmological natural selection introduced by theoretical
physicist Professor Lee Smolin in the early 1990s.
Smolin suggests that black holes are an adaptation designed by
cosmological natural selection and that life is a by-product of
selection for black holes. Universes self-replicate through
black holes, and selection favours universes that contain more
Dr Price theorises that, based on our knowledge about how
natural selection operates at the biological level, intelligent life is actually
more likely than black holes to be a mechanism by which
universes replicate themselves – a concept known as
cosmological natural selection (CNS) with intelligence.
Price notes that natural selection operating at the biological
level is the strongest known process in the universe for
creating complex order and for slowing down the process of
increasing entropy (degeneration and decay), and it may operate
at the cosmological level as well.
Essentially, life is much more complexly ordered and less
likely to arise by chance than a black hole, and thus more
likely to be an adaptation for universe replication, he
explains. This view contrasts with Smolin’s suggestion that
black holes are the adaptation and life is the by-product.
“Living organisms are the least entropic, that is, the most
complexly ordered and improbable entities known to exist,” Dr
Price, Head of Brunel’s Centre for Culture and Evolution,
“Biological natural selection (BNS), then, is the strongest
known anti-entropic process because it creates organisms.
Biological natural selection endows those organisms with traits
called adaptations that ultimately enable genetic replication.
We recognise a trait as an adaptation based on its improbable
complexity, and this complexity is the hallmark of natural
“If we accept, as Professor Smolin argues, that we live in a
multiverse where universe designs reproduce competitively
according to a process of selection, then biological natural
selection may be a reliable guide to what we should expect from
cosmological natural selection.
“By implication, I suggest that both intelligent life and black holes are plausible
candidates to be CNS-designed adaptations but the probability
of being such an adaptation is higher for life than black holes
or indeed, for any other known object in the universe, because
life is the most complexly improbable thing we
“I also suggest that more generally, CNS may be the ultimate
primary cause of cosmological order, just as BNS is the
ultimate primary cause of biological order. In other words, BNS
and CNS may together be ultimately responsible for much of the
order that we observe in the universe. Without this order there
would be no entropy because nothing would decay to a
less-ordered state and therefore no arrow of time.
“In sum, the process of selection may be far more fundamental
to explaining the nature of our universe than is generally
Did the universe evolve to make black holes?
More information: ‘Entropy and selection: Life as an
adaptation for universe replication’ by Michael E. Price,
Department of Life Sciences, Brunel University London, is
published in Complexity: www.hindawi.com/journals/complexity/aip/4745379/
Provided by: Brunel