According to the reigning competition-driven model of evolution, selfish behaviors that maximize an organism’s reproductive potential offer a fitness advantage over self-sacrificing behaviors—rendering unselfish behavior for the sake of others a mystery that requires extra explanation. Evolution, Games, and God addresses this conundrum by exploring how cooperation, working alongside mutation and natural selection, plays a critical role in populations from microbes to human societies. Inheriting a tendency to cooperate, argue the contributors to this book, may be as beneficial as the self-preserving instincts usually thought to be decisive in evolutionary dynamics.

Assembling experts in mathematical biology, history of science, psychology, philosophy, and theology, Martin and Sarah Coakley take an interdisciplinary approach to the terms “cooperation” and “altruism.” Using game theory, the authors elucidate mechanisms by which cooperation—a form of working together in which one individual benefits at the cost of another—arises through natural selection. They then examine altruism—cooperation which includes the sometimes conscious choice to act sacrificially for the collective good—as a key concept in scientific attempts to explain the origins of morality. Discoveries in cooperation go beyond the spread of genes in a population to include the spread of cultural transformations such as languages, ethics, and religious systems of meaning.

The authors resist the presumption that theology and evolutionary theory are inevitably at odds. Rather, in rationally presenting a number of theological interpretations of the phenomena of cooperation and altruism, they find evolutionary explanation and theology to be strongly compatible.

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Martin, working here with bestselling science writer Roger Highfield, turns an important aspect of evolutionary theory on its head to explain why cooperation, not competition, has always been the key to the evolution of complexity. In his first book written for a wide audience, Martin explains his cutting-edge research into the mysteries of cooperation, from the rise of multicellular life to Good Samaritans, and from cancer treatment to the success of large companies. With wit and clarity, and an eye to its huge implications, Martin and Roger make the case that cooperation, not competition, is the defining human trait.

SuperCooperators will expand our understanding of evolution and provoke debate for years to come.

 
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At a time of unprecedented expansion in the life sciences, evolution is the one theory that transcends all of biology. Any observation of a living system must ultimately be interpreted in the context of its evolution. Evolutionary change is the consequence of mutation and natural selection, which are two concepts that can be described by mathematical equations. Evolutionary Dynamics is concerned with these equations of life. In this book, Martin draws on the languages of biology and mathematics to outline the mathematical principles according to which life evolves. His work introduces readers to the powerful yet simple laws that govern the evolution of living systems, no matter how complicated they might seem.

Evolution has become a mathematical theory, Martin suggests, and any idea of an evolutionary process or mechanism should be studied in the context of the mathematical equations of evolutionary dynamics. His book presents a range of analytical tools that can be used to this end: fitness landscapes, mutation matrices, genomic sequence space, random drift, quasispecies, replicators, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, games in finite and infinite populations, evolutionary graph theory, games on grids, evolutionary kaleidoscopes, fractals, and spatial chaos. Martin then shows how evolutionary dynamics applies to critical real-world problems, including the progression of viral diseases such as AIDS, the virulence of infectious agents, the unpredictable mutations that lead to cancer, the evolution of altruism, and even the evolution of human language. His book makes a clear and compelling case for understanding every living system—and everything that arises as a consequence of living systems—in terms of evolutionary dynamics.

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We know, down to the tiniest details, the molecular structure of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Yet despite this tremendous accomplishment, and despite other remarkable advances in our understanding of individual viruses and cells of the immune system, we still have no agreed understanding of the ultimate course and variability of the pathogenesis of AIDS. Gaps in our understanding like these impede our efforts toward developing effective therapies and preventive vaccines. Martin and Robert May describe the emerging field of theoretical immunology in this accessible and well-written text. Using mathematical modelling techniques, the authors set out their ideas about how populations of viruses and populations of immune system cells may interact in various circumstances, and how infectious diseases spread within patients. They explain how this approach to understanding infectious diseases can reveal insights into the dynamics of viral and other infections, and the interactions between infectious agents and immune responses.

The book is structured around the examples of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B virus, although the approaches described will be more widely applicable. The authors use mathematical tools to uncover the detailed dynamics of the infection and the effects of antiviral therapy. Models are developed to describe the emergence of drug resistance, and the dynamics of immune responses, viral evolution, and mutation. The practical implications of this work for optimization of the design of therapy and vaccines are discussed. The book concludes with a glance toward the future of this fascinating, and potentially highly useful, field of study.

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