You believe in evolution, no? Yes? Right?
Right, of course you do. You’re an educated individual…
So, have you read Darwin? Maybe not? Probably not. But who needs to? Evolution is true. That’s apparent. Things change. Animals change over time. Legs become fins, fingers become wing struts, scales become feathers. And vice-versa. It’s just so. We come from things that we used to be. We used to be other things. Things change! And life is connected.
Sure, why not. Life is connected, certainly – to life, to itself. And it comes from… itself. It evolves from itself into…itself. Just differently. How simple! How self-evident.
But, what is the theory of Evolution?
Well, what about it? It’s self-explanatory. It’s not a theory, it’s a fact. And you do know it, even if you think you don’t. Venture a guess?
Yes! That’s it. “Survival of the Fittest.”
That is the theory of evolution, in abbreviated form. But really, that wasn’t Charles Darwin’s phrase. That came from a man named Herbert Spencer, who wrote those words a bit in advance of good Charles. Mr. Spencer was talking about the survival of human beings, struggling against poverty in the dog eat dog world. (Dogs eat dogs, don’t they?) And the fit survive. Those other folks don’t. That’s how it goes. Keeping up with the Joneses sure is getting old, but that’s how it goes, said dear Herbert.
Mr. Darwin, Charlie, himself had called his theory one defined by “natural selection.” Mr. Spencer put his spin on Charlie’s work, and Charlie accepted. A few printings of the book later, and even Charlie called his theory “survival of the fittest.”
So, now you know. That is the theory of evolution. Survival of the fittest. That’s how all life came into being.
The fit survived. And those that survived were fit! How nicely it fits together! To be fit is to survive, to survive is to be…well…it sort of does become a bit of a slightly wanky idea, when you say it out loud like that. But there’s more to it.
It’s not that the “fit” survive, it’s that the fit survive long enough to make more babies. Therefore, those who are fit enough to have babies…that is, the babies are the ones who “survive.” Or, I mean, the line, the line of descent survives. Because mom and dad were fit! See?
And that’s how life emerged from nothingness on a barren volcanic earth! Mom and dad were…fit. Fit! Fit!! Fitness!!
What about before mom and dad, you ask? Oh, you. You are troublesome…
Well, that’s easy. Very simple, in fact. So simple it’s painful that I have to tell you. It’s like this:
There were a number of processes in which materials were organized… by natural forces…into other materials…which…eventually…
Look. Life came about, and it’s not really worth fighting about the fact of it. Life exists! That’s clear. Self-evident! So, why are we fighting?
The important thing to remember is that after that self-organization of material into greater and greater complexity, reproduction began by which organisms learned to split and duplicate themselves, probably as survival strategies, and then over time, the fittest survived!
And that’s how it all came about.
How wonderful! How grand!! Remarkable! “But how in the world,” you ask, wide-eyed, “did Mr. Charles Darwin discover this grand theory!?”
Ah, what a story! It goes like this:
Charlie was reading a book by a man named Thomas Malthus Poor Tom was an unhappy and dour fellow, worried to death over the breeding, the non-stop humping, the rapacious screwing and baby-making of people. Of poor people. Of mostly the poor people. All over the world. Very very worried.
Thomas felt sure that people made more babies than they could support, more than they could feed, clothe or care for. He was certain that the poor (and also the Africans and Natives everywhere, the non-Christians that is), would over-breed. And as a result, the human species would be so starved for the limited resources of the field and granary that great famine and flood and horror would come and perish untold numbers of us. Of ‘them,’ of course, as well – them being the poor. But of ‘us’ too, those impacted by the irresponsible screwing of the irresponsible poor.
He wrote a tremendous book about it. You can read that for free, too. Clickity click.
So, it was Thomas who Charles was reading, when he arrived at his radical and revolutionary idea. “If it’s true for people, is it not also true for animals?” asked Charles. That is, if there is a natural struggle for survival among humans, can we not also assume that there is an identical struggle in – and between – all of God’s creatures (or, well, whoever’s creatures they are. That remained to be seen).
In this struggle, considered Charles, a few lucky ones would rise to the top. But not “lucky,” no, not lucky… but “chosen.” But not “chosen,” not by God, but by Nature. Nature would do the choosing. And it wouldn’t be “luck,” and it wouldn’t be “choosing.” It would be…
Oh, what would cause the goodness of Nature to choose – or select? That’s it, “select!” What would cause Nature…or “nature,” (small “n,” not a supernatural force, but a ‘natural force,’ governed by ‘natural laws’); What would cause nature to ‘select’ one animal over another of its kind for survival in this endless struggle against overbreeding and hunger?
Why, an individual would have to be better….
“Adapted!” Better “adapted” than any other. It would have to be different!
Wait!!! No, it couldn’t be different. Not really different. It was born, it came from its mother, it looks like its mother, and father of course. Father too…It must be the same. But also different. Slightly, every so slightly different. Different enough!
Different enough to be ‘selected’ by ‘nature’ to survive!
Just different enough. Just barely enough. It would have to be slow, very slow, very very very slow, and unintentional change. Absolutely unintentional. Without purpose or intention. No purpose. No direction. No will. No ‘choosing.” No intelligent operator in the spirit of the thing. No! Just the struggle and an accident. Just an accidental change. And nature likes it – on occasion! On occasion, of course! Sometimes! Sometimes, from time to time, for no “reason,” nature likes…selects…the little being with that slight accident more than those without it.
But…what kind of change? Who knows. Who can say? Perhaps it’s a bird. Perhaps it’s a finch. Perhaps the beak of a finch is 1/16th of a millimeter longer than the beaks of its brothers and sisters.
Why? Why would it be longer? It almost indicates…creativity. Desire. Will….Being….
No! No, no. That is crazy talk. It changes because…because “things change!” It’s a natural law! No will. No purpose. Just…things change! Law. Nature!
Resolved! And so, over another 100 years, that bird’s progeny accidentally have ever-so-slightly larger and larger beaks. Within a few thousand years, you might have a bird with a very large beak, indeed!
Fortunately there has been a lot of time. Billions of years, for all of these intention-less accidents to pile up. And so, as a direct and unimpeachable result, unimaginable complexity has been arrived at, by accident, and without intention, feedback, or will. No desire exists but that which drives us, we machine bodies for our accidentally-mutating genes, to replicate them.
Oh, right. That’s the new wrinkle – the Neo-Darwinians. They added a great deal to the discussion, by letting humanity know that it was the Genome, the Great and Holy Genome that was the selected, by nature, which chooses and chooses and chooses. But accidentally, of course, and without intention, direction or purpose.
So, now that you know a little more about the official theory of evolution – accidental change over time resulting in endless variety and complexity – you may now return to your meaningless, arbitrary, spiritless, empty, hollow, shallow, trite, wafer-thin life. Science has told you it is so, and so it is. Who are you to argue?