A fundamental question about evolution is the importance of the role of the environment. Novel environments can induce phenotypic variation that anticipates genetic variation and reveal cryptic genetic variation through new phenotypic expression. Another role involves the induction of non-random evolutionary change by the genetic regulatory reprogramming of the stress response to compensate for routine stressful conditions. In each of these situations, developmental change underlies evolution and suggests general explanatory principles. This project addresses empirical, theoretical, and conceptual questions related to the existence of a creative role for stress in evolution alongside its relationship to other roles of environmentally induced change in both evolution and development, while seeking to formulate corresponding general principles that foster new inquiry in psychology and theology. Combining molecular biological research and systematic theoretical reflection with exploratory, cross-disciplinary meetings of diverse scholars, our project addresses longstanding questions about relating evolution and development and opens up new possibilities for understanding the dynamics of psychological transformation and theological implications for diverse faith traditions.
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