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I am beginning to doubt the laws of evolution. And always those pertaining to religion. But in relation to the first, here’s why:

Now we are supposed to think that evolution favours the intelligent and the fit. Over lots and lots of time, traits that improve environmental adaptation tend to be favoured and replicated until they become the norm. That’s the way it works for trees and for ladybugs. But it doesn’t seem to work for humans. If humans are supposed to be part of nature’s rich fabric, then humanity’s evolutionary server seems to be off-line. Of course, the religious types would immediately contend that humans are above evolution as we are above nature; being selected by higher powers… But, given the choice of animal, vegetable or mineral, most folk I know are closer to animals than plants (though they do tend to enjoy emulating potatoes when they take seed on the couch…) We follow the herd just like all the other bison on the plains. How else could you explain the prevalence of football, country music and the latest Australian election results…

No, humans are animals too; squabbling, bickering territorial aggressors just like every other species I could name.

Here’s where the theory of evolution breaks down. Here’s the nail in the evolutionary coffin.

All other animals seems to possess higher levels of cautionary behaviour than people do. Not too many animals throw themselves into harm’s way. Not too many animals are persistently oblivious to threats. If they were, they’d soon become extinct and so that evolutionary sub-routine is served. But not so with people! It seems that most humans choose to thrill seek in the face of death. Or maybe it’s just because they are chewing the cud of consumerist excess to spare the space to notice all the evolutionary signals out there. Especially when it comes to all those life and death threats with which they participate as an everyday unthinking routine. Take this example. Take the drivers of SUV’s (or 4WD trucks as some would describe). There’s plenty of these where I live. As a matter of fact, that’s all that seems to be on the rural roads around here.

Here’s the game. The roads are 1.2 times as wide as the average SUV. The roads are unmarked with centre lines. Our roads have more bends than a bird harassed snake. Here’s the scene. Lady in silver Landcruiser off to town. She drives in the middle of the road. A hat wearing local bloke is coming the other way. That one’s in a 4WD ute with dogs happily face surfing the wind. Neither moves off to one side when passing. Both are doing over 100km/hr (60 miles per hour). Both fix their glassy gaze into the realms of some other place. The same place their minds are always in when they drive a car. Defying physics and, probably, the laws of chemistry as well, they both pass with only friction burns to their driver side rear view mirrors. Not a thought. No inclination to evolution’s proposed laws of evolutionary caution.

Now, let’s spice this scenario up a little. Add in a cyclist using the road. Of course, our sainted peddler uses vastly less space than the width of the road, but using the road is still in his or her set of rights. Just a little bit of road. Now, consider this death-defying maths. One road equal to 1.2 times the width of an average SUV (not including the snouts of overhanging dogs who, unlike their masters, do indeed pull their heads in when passing another car). Two SUV’s passing each other equals 80 per cent more than the width of the road they seek to both employ. Add in the cyclist at, say, another 20 per cent and the total demand for the road is now 100 per cent more than the road that there is. But does this stop those moto-loco’s from attempting to pass at the same time as the cyclist who is now in their way? Nope. Nada. Forget it. In a blinding feat of defeat to the laws of evolution, pass is what they do; probably without even a thought (because thinking seems to be a vestigial mental appendix on the killing fields of our local roads).

And who, might I ask, is the likely victim of this feat of perversity to the hard wired caution that’s built into every other animal’s evolutionary routine? Why, the cyclist, of course. And that’s where evolution is proved now, definitively, to be wrong. The survival of the fittest? The two couch potatoes in their mind-souping SUV’s survive. The fit cyclist is the first to go. Evolution has become a warted parody when it comes to this evolutionary freak show we call our roads.

If evolution worked, the future of the human race would be a universal peloton of fit, resilient evolutionary cycling success. Whatever mental derangement that inclines people to drive cars should, eventually, take them out of the evolutionary game. Car drivers should, by rights, eventually become extinct. With SUV drivers the first to hit the evolutionary exit lane. Where’s the evidence for this? Evidence for the contrary is all it seems we get to see, in these days of oil-fumed insanity.

But, I am not taking evolutionary time scales into proper account. Evolution takes eons of time to play. Cyclists were around long before the first automobile. Cyclists will, it is in all our interests to hope, still be there when the oil runs out. So, will cyclists ultimately prevail? We’d need to wait a millennium or two to check the cadence of humanity’s progress in this regard. But I am, when it’s all said and done, confident that if only just a few of we cyclists survive the holocaust of this, the Morlock generation of human kind, we should be there to regain the evolutionary ground when the cargo cult of this age of the car is finally relegated to the evolutionary scrapping yard.

2 Responses to “A New Theory of Evolution”
  1. Cycling for Beginners says:

    Unfortunately, I think for evolution purposes “fittest” means “able to kill others” and not “the one with the best quads”.

  2. Only a month ago a good friend of mine was killed by a Land Rover while riding his bike. There is no evidence we are a favored species that will last. As you say above, the evidence is against us.

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