The Epic of Evolution: video interview with Cathy Russell

Interview with Cathy Russell from Jack Butler on Vimeo.

I decided last week it was time to stretch myself.  Having not revisited Science since doing it as a compulsory subject for public exams aged 16, it felt like it was time to re-engage.

I met Cathy Russell at the book launch party for Steve Mcintosh‘s new book, Purpose of Evolution.  She was talking about the collaboration inherent in nature to create new adaptives strains and species, by dint of ‘mobile DNA‘.  I was out of my depth with the scientific lexicon but the core idea seemed to resonate.  Dawkins et al. have given the perception that nature is selfish and competitive, our genes likewise.  Of course, they are.  And, of course, they are not just that.  I asked Cathy if she would do an interview to explain what she has been working on.

Cathy is the weaver of this web and a teacher of the Epic of Evolution. She earned her Ph.D. with a dissertation on the role of gene transfer in evolution. She is passionate about promoting the Epic of Evolution because she believes that understanding this story leads to personal and planetary well being. Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest, states one of her sentiments so succinctly: “We cannot save our planet unless humankind undergoes a widespread spiritual and religious awakening.” At the heart of this awakening is the realization of a meaningful evolutionary worldview and that each of us is contributes to the future with our imagination and action.

Check out our 20-minute interview above.

A few references in the video:

Epic of Evolution is Cathy’s site

Big History Project

Big History Institute and David Christian

[ps – after our interview, Cathy shot off on a plane and emailed this which I thought I would share – Costa Rica is paradise for witnessing and contemplating evolution. Every tree is cooperative venture of dozens of plants and countless microbes and insects. The variety and abundance of life is astonishing. It’s no wonder that Darwin and Wallace both traveled to the tropics. This place inspires awe and curiosity! Below are leaf cutter ants moving their colorful harvest to underground palace.]

About Jack Butler

Jack Butler is a social entrepreneur, coach, workshop leader and speaker. His latest venture provides full spectrum human development through coaching, programmes and other development resources for leaders and entrepreneurs. He founded Future Foundations (, a leading youth personal development training organization. He is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association and a former fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Jack was the IAB 2007 Young Entrepreneur of the Year runner-up and took a double first class degree in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Jack spends his time between London and Brighton in the UK and Boulder, CO and the Bay Area in the US. In his spare time, he enjoys physical challenges (3 Peaks Challenge 2010, Tresco Marathon 2006) and supporting The Simultaneous Policy Organisation ( He is a Partner in Passion and Purpose of the Grubb Guild, a voracious reader of personal, cultural and spiritual development, and likes to inquire, journal, travel and write.
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