Last year we celebrated two extraordinary and intimately connected anniversaries. Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. Fifty years later the great naturalist published what many consider to be the most profound book ever written, The Origin of Species. Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of The Origin both take place in the same year. Two excellent reasons to celebrate!

Thanks largely to the brilliant scholarship and global outreach of biologist Richard Dawkins, the world is finally beginning to more fully comprehend and appreciate the work of Charles Darwin. Beginning with The Selfish Gene in 1976, Dawkins’ own research and writing have advanced evolutionary theory tremendously. But Dawkins has performed another vital service. During the past few years Richard Dawkins has been lecturing all over the world about evolution and why science and reason necessarily conflict with religious belief. His recent series on Channel 4 in the UK, “The Genius of Charles Darwin,” continues an impressive string of public presentations that have clearly demonstrated how evolution—especially the processes of natural and sexual selection—explains how biological and social systems function and why religion ultimately undermines the human potential.

You can keep up with Richard Dawkins at www.RichardDawkins.net By searching Richard Dawkins on YouTube you can find many great Dawkins postings, including all three hours of “The Genius of Charles Darwin.” This TV series is perfectly pitched for the non specialist and presented in a very engaging, entertaining way. Highly recommended.

The academic field of communication has unfortunately ignored evolution completely. This omission looms despite the fact that beginning with sexual signaling and early language continuing all the way to active participation by people in the vast electronic and digital networks that pervade modern life, communication processes determine the way humans develop. Nothing is more important than communication for understanding where our species has been and where we’re headed.

Inspired by Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins, my own research and writing in recent years has focused on the many roles of communication in human evolution. I began to formalize my argument in Culture-on-Demand: Communication in a Crisis World. Now, joining with my longtime friend Eduardo Neiva, I've completed a booklength manuscript, Change Now: The Power of Evolutionary Communication. Challenging the boundaries of conventional approaches, Change Now presents an original view of evolution, a stinging critique of religious dogma, and an encouraging prognosis for our collective future.

The dual evolutionary structure Charles Darwin identified—mutation and selection—becomes a trinity: mutation, selection, and communication. Eduardo and I hope that our work will help inspire other social scientists to conduct research and write about evolution from a communication perspective.

© James Lull