Saturday, 19 January 2019

Beauty – a Creation Concept that Darwin Cannot Imagine

A flame bowerbird. Image courtesy of Richard Bowdler Sharpe, public domain.

In a Darwin only view of birds, Ferrish Jahr speaks about a thing that has surpassed evolutionists since Darwin.

A male flame bowerbird is a creature of incandescent beauty. The hue of his plumage transitions seamlessly from molten red to sunshine yellow. But that radiance is not enough to attract a mate. When males of most bowerbird species are ready to begin courting, they set about building the structure for which they are named: an assemblage of twigs shaped into a spire, corridor or hut.”

He takes this trip with Richard Prum, an evolutionary ornithologist at Yale University and to a lesser extend with Michael Ryan:

"Ryan is particularly interested in the innate sensitivities and biases of our neural architecture: He describes how our visual system, for example, may be wired to notice symmetry. Prum stresses his conviction that in humans, as in birds, many types of physical beauty and sexual desire have arbitrarily co-evolved without reference to health or fertility.”

Them he makes this concession:

Why are flowers beautiful? Or, more precisely: Why are flowers beautiful to us? The more I thought about this question, the more it seemed to speak to the nature of beauty itself.”


Jabr, Ferris, 2019. How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution. The New York Times (9 January).