Darwin Down

by Robert Lewis (May 2020)

Evolution, Piet Mondrian, 1911




As Charles Darwin, the Father of Evolution, would have it, the shaping of life on the planet earth, or why all life forms are as they are, is a result of a weeding out process commonly referred to as natural selection or “survival of the fittest.” Random mutations are preserved (selected) or eliminated (selected out) according to their suitability in a given environment. If, during an extended dry spell, a yellow field of soya turns brown, the yellow butterflies that would normally be camouflaged from aerial predation become visible and, in all likelihood, be eliminated while the freak (mutated) brown butterflies (now rendered invisible) will survive and multiply. Thus, in a contest of the fittest, at least for this illustration, the brown butterfly triumphs.


However, survival of the fittest plays only a minor role regarding species’ attributes because nearly all adventitious (chance) mutations are neutral, that is neither selected nor selected out, until a change in environment directly engages the mutation. Taking Homo sapiens as an example, we can hypothesize an infinite number of radical mutations, none of which would significantly impact his relationship with his non-mutated co-frères: having a sixth finger, a third eye looking out from the back of a head, a thigh muscle-tendon combination that would allow him to run significantly faster. And while the extra finger would provide the mutant with a decided advantage during a Bach piano competition or on the pitching mound, he will not prevail over or replace his 5-fingered counterpart. They will co-exist side by side.



With the approach of winter, monarch butterflies begin their annual 3,000 mile migratory trip from Canada to Mexico. Once in Mexico, they reproduce then die (an event not related to incontinent tortilla consumption), leaving their offspring to make the long and danger-fraught return trip to El Norte, an undertaking that, in consideration of the numbers, must boggle the mind. The Mexican-born butterfly, weighing approximately 0.5 grams, and with a brain no larger than the head of a pin, manages to find its way back to a faraway country it has never seen, and to the exact same address where its progenitors dwelt.





The mere existence of the missing link theory implies that natural selection cannot explain the evolution of life from the single cell to something as complex as a creature with vision and sentience. The theory—the theological equivalent of agnosticism—implies tens of thousands of links, or necessary mutations, that culminate in human intelligence.



In the accusing light of the insufficiency of Darwinism as an explanation of why all life forms on earth are as they are, all attempts to explain the unexplainable are equally valid in the eye of the beholder. The theist is convinced that God is responsible for the way we are, for the way the cosmos runs, its origins. Anthropology proposes that Homo Erectus was lazy and was wiped out by Homo sapiens. Germ theorists hypothesize that there might have been a particular species-specific, lethal germ that would have left the apes intact but decimated Homo Habilis and then Homo Erectus, but not those mutants that eventually evolved into Homo sapiens. These same germ theorists predict that in the event of a nuclear holocaust, those individuals possessed of exceptional immunity to radiation will survive and evolve into the next species.




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Robert Lewis was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He has been publislhed in The Spectator. He is also a guitarist who composes in the Alt-Classical style. You can listen here.

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