Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
July 9th, 2008

The Conversion of the Casual Evolutionist

You can’t spell love without evolve

 
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For most of my adult life, I was what you might call, a casual evolutionist.  You know, the type of person who could handle your run-of-the-mill, cocktail-party conversation on Darwinism.  All the obvious stuff just seemed to make sense, like how giraffes with longer necks had a better shot than their shorter cousins.  Or that stronger lions killed more zebras than the weak ones.  Or how Donald Trump is still able to date fashion models because…

OK, well, perhaps Darwin’s theory had its limits.

But during my recent breakup with my girlfriend, Linda—somewhere between the “I swear this is the last 3 am phone call” and the restraining order—I had an epiphany. With all the extra time on my hands and a serious existential crisis brewing, I began reading Richard Dawkins’ popular book The God Delusion.  Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist who became famous years ago for writing The Selfish Gene. His life’s work has been consumed with explaining how all of evolution goes back to genetics and all of life goes back to evolution.  The man is a genius. Reading Dawkins’ books was like being born again. It was as if the scales had been removed from my eyes. How could I have been so blind to how all-encompassing this theory of evolution truly is?

Origin of the Hotties
I finally had answers to all of the questions that had plagued me for years. Why am I attracted to certain kinds of women?  Well, obviously a beautiful woman is more likely to have beautiful children, and those children are more likely to reproduce and so it’s in my genetic best interest for me to fall in love with hotties. 

What about my thing for smart women?  Clearly, smart people have a better shot at surviving adversity—be it a wooly mammoth or a boardroom presentation—so my attraction to smart people has nothing to do with our shared “love of literature.”  I just want someone who will bear me smart, strong, sabre-tooth cat fighting children. 

All my categories had been blown apart. While I thought I was looking for someone who was kind, compassionate, and who treated me as more than a piece of man-candy, Dawkins convinced me that every attractive woman is really just a set of great genes stuffed into a pair of great jeans.

Me…A Natural Selection

Dawkins convinced me that every attractive woman is really just a set of great genes stuffed into a pair of great jeans.

But while it’s easy to see the genetic components to attraction, it’s far more difficult to recognize them in other areas of our lives. Take my career for example. I teach English at an inner-city, Catholic high school.  Wouldn’t it be in my best-interest to do something more profitable, like the stock market, or computers, or assembling clothing for the GAP?   Ah!  This is where my genes demonstrate their true gene-ius.  You see, it’s in their best interest for me to appear “concerned about children” so that I might attract a woman who wants kids and would prefer them not to work in my “Making Shoes is Fun!” Backyard Sweatshop.  Sure, helping young minds grow in their understanding of great literature is nice in theory but it pales in comparison to my deepest desire to spread some DNA. 

The Decentness of Man
Truth be told, that’s all women want as well.  My ex-girlfriend Linda’s desire for “a kind, compassionate man” who will remember her birthday and the fact that she’s violently allergic to AXE body spray was just a front for those of us too weak to recognize the truth.  Every woman’s deepest drive is to find a man whose y-chromosome will carry her x-chromosomes forward for centuries.

Now, I admit, I used to believe that most behavior could be explained by evolution, but that things like art, beauty, truth and music transcended simple biology. I believed I could validate my distinct humanity in the feeling of connection I found in a U2 song or the sense of pain I felt for Harry Angstrom in Rabbit is Rich. How could I have been so wrong? Come on, wake up and smell the pheromones, people! Talk to any teenager who picks up a guitar or any artist who ever told a girl he wanted to paint her.  My apologies to Messrs. Bono and Updike, but listening to that music and reading all those books just helped me figure out how to connect to women better, and by connect I mean…well, you know what I mean.

Thank you Charles Darwin. Thank you Richard Dawkins. When I think of the heartache I could’ve avoided had I only understood all of this sooner…my God! (Oops, sorry guys, force of inherited habit.) Were it not for you I would still be torturing myself wondering why Linda left me for her personal trainer (free trial membership my a**!). But thanks to your help I’m now able to realize that it wasn’t really Linda telling me she “needed a break;” it was just the genetics talking. 

 
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The Author : Jeff Guhin
Jeff Guhin, a contributing editor at BustedHalo, is working on a doctoral degree at Yale University.
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  • Henry

    Evolution as ego defense mechanism.

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