On evolution and methaphors

Anti-evolutionists have often used the argument that for evolution to succeed, it would be like a thousand monkeys typing randomly on typewriters for years and years and having a beautiful novel come out of it.

This is closer to the truth than they think. All you need to add is the equivalent of natural selection, and you’d have your book.

Have your thousand monkeys type away, and every once in a while you will see a couple of characters come out that could be part of a word. That is the only randomness that is needed. Unlike the claim, you don’t need the entire book to randomly appear. You only need a few characters at a time PLUS some kind of mechanism for recognising and keeping those characters while a few others at a time get added and added until, much much later, you’ve got your book.

The mechanism for recognising the needed letters is equivalent to the way nature recognises small changes in genetic material and adds it to the genome (overall set of genes). It does so only for the occasional mutation, and only when that mutation confers an advantage to the organism carrying it. Over many many generations, you get an additive total change that can be stark compared to what you started with. And can branch into other forms and variations as they disperse into separate populations, each with environmental changes that are slightly different.

Read more on evolution if you don’t understand it. It is an idea that has the potential to help us out of our bigotted, tribal, antagonistic behaviours. That is, if we realise that we really are just one more form of life on the only planet we have access to, we may start working together for community success.

Rob

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About Rob

I'm one of us! I have the blood of all our ancestors, from the beginning of time, running through my veins, just like you.
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