4 Unhelpful Metaphors for Evolution

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/4-unhelpful-metaphors-for-evolution

Helpful description for very common, unhelpful metaphors. Thanks for the aid in communication.

Glad to hear they were helpful, Randy!

Cars may not be a great example of evolution, but they have a good example of a vestigial structure: the 12 volt plug. Bulky and seemingly poorly designed, it is functional as a power outlet, but its true origin as a cigarette lighter socket is obvious to those of us of an age when dinosaurs roamed the earth.


Good point! It’s an interesting example of only being able to fully understand the constraints if you can see a piece that is no longer there. And a good reminder that design is contingent as well.

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An important topic and I wish you and your book well, but here the problem I see with it.

You reject King of the Hill as an unhelpful “metaphor.” First of all I would say that the scientific concept here is “model,” as in Thomas Kuhn’s work. You are writing about science, so you should be using scientific terms and concepts, even though scientist do not accept this one.

Second, King of the Hill or survival of the fittest is the only model that for evolution that Darwin used, based on the theories of Thomas Malthus. If the model for Natural Selection (not evolution) is wrong or “unhelpful,” as you say then we have a problem. That problem is that we cannot say scientifically how evolution works until the unhelpful or wrong model is replaced by a good helpful model.

Third, we do not have a good helpful model. As you have indicated the 4 you cited are grossly deficient.

Fourth, the best scientific model for natural selection is Symbiosis, or ecology. For some reason the unhelpful model of struggle has been implanted in our minds, so working together toward a common goal is dismissed by our minds even though nature endorses it in all that it does. Also E. O. Wilson’s new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, suggests this without saying it.

If you want this spelled out in detail, read my book, Darwin’s Myth: Malthus, Ecology, and the Meaning of Life. If I may say, Andy, this is a very important topic because our nation and the world is being pulled apart between the Survival of the Fittest individualists and the Ecologically Concerned socially concerned people.

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