All posts tagged Evolution


Published July 26, 2021 by Nan Mykel

The roots of the arts “date back in deep history to the genetic origins of the human brain, and are permanent.” So writes Edward O. Wilson in one of my favorite books, Consilience, 1998….

“While biology has an important part to play in scholarly interpretation, the creative arts themselves can never be locked in by this or any other discipline of science.  The reason is that the exclusive role of the arts is the transmission of the intricate details of human experience by artifice to intensify aesthetic and emotional response. Works of art communicate feeling directly from mind to mind, with no intent to explain why the impact occurs.  In this defining quality, the arts are the antithesis of science. (p 218)

“….Several special powers were granted the arts by the genetic evolution of the brain.  First is the ability to generate metaphors with ease and move them fluidly from one context to another.”   Wilson maintains that metaphors, the “building blocks of creative thought,” are the  consequence of  spreading activation of the brain  during learning.

Wilson also recognizes the importance of our natural environment for our present and future.  On page 278 he writes, “What we idealize in nature and seek to re-create is the peculiar physical and biotic environment  that cradled the human species.  The human body and mind are precisely adapted to this world , notwithstanding its trials and  dangers, and that is why we think it beautiful. In this respect Homo sapiens  conforms to a basic principle of organic evolution, that  all species prefer and gravitate to the environment in which their genes were assembled.  It is called ‘Habitat selection.’

“There lies survival for humanity, and there lies mental peace, as prescribed by our genes.  We are consequently unlikely ever to find any other place  or conceive of any other home as beautiful as this blue planet was before we began to change it.”


Published July 17, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Now that I’ve driven my potential readers away, I’ll share what’s been on my mind: evolution. It’s an exciting topic, mysterious, and curious, so I’m hooked. The following excerpt is from Nigel Barger’s recent book, Evolution in the Here and Now, Prometheus 2020. “When gene expression is altered by the environment, there can be marked behavioral consequences….Children raised in stressful homes are significantly shorter in stature despite the fact that that height is one of the most genetically heritable traits. Psychological stress inhibits normal growth and development by changing the way that genes are expressed.” So a psychological (i.e., environmental) influence can alter gene expression , thereby shortening stature. (p 205) I’m wondering about the age factor–whether the stress transmitted in utero or during the bonding process might initiate the alteration of the gene expression. Have I not read about babies dying from lack of human touch? I’m assuming here that parents in those stressful homes would exhibit similar stressful and stress-inducing behavior behavior during the birthing process, and their hypothetical level of stress effect a compromised genetic expression. For the latter possibility, birth weights might differ. I posted this because it got my curiosity (“what if…”) going.


Published June 25, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Linguist Noam Chomsky has spent much of his life studying the underlying structure of language–not the meaning of words used but their underlying form and pattern. Evolution is the hypothesized generator underlying language, which subsequently developed world wide into the various languages, all based on the underlying pre-existing patterning. (See Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell, Simon and Schuster). A similar underlying evolutional provision is hypothesized to exist in other areas (with some suggestive evidence) in the area of mathematics and musical talent. Incidentally, the most spoken languages as of 2020 are English: 1,132 million; Mandarin Chinese: 1,117 million speakers; Hindi 615 million; and Spanish 534 million (blog.Lingoda.com).

Perhaps a more clearcut evolutionary prescription is suggested by what has been called the spiritual gene hypothesis, fine-tuned by Dean Hamer, a molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health. The God gene hypothesis proposes that human spirituality is influenced by heredity and that a specific gene called vesicular monoamine Transporter 2 (VMAT2) acts by altering monoamine elements and provides an evolutionary advantage by providing individuals with an innate sense of optimism (Wikipedia).

Hamer draws a sharp distinction between spirituality and religion or belief in a particular god, the latter of which is transmitted culturally. Wikipedia reports that there are approximately 4,200 active religions in the world [!] As of 2020 the breakdown is:

Christianity2.382 billion31.11%
Islam1.907 billion24.9%
Secular Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist1.193 billion15.58%
Hinduism1.251 billion15.16%
Buddhism506 million5.06%
Chinese traditional religion394 million5%
Ethnic religions excluding some in separate categories300 million3%
African traditional religions100 million1.2%
Sikhism26 million0.30%
Judaism14.7 million0.18%
Spiritism14.5 million0.18%
Baháʼí5.0 million0.07%
Jainism4.2 million0.05%
Shinto4.0 million0.05%
Cao Dai4.0 million0.05%
Zoroastrianism2.6 million0.03%
Tenrikyo2.0 million0.02%
Animism1.9 million0.02%
Druze1.2 million0.015%
Neo-Paganism1.0 million0.01%
Unitarian Universalism0.8 million0.01%
Rastafari0.6 million0.007%
Total7.79 billion100%


Published June 21, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Horseshoe crab hanging on my wall

tunes up louder our past’s recall.

Someone found you on the beach

and brought you within my reach.

I gutted you but you were dead,

ahead of me, let it be said.

Now you hang in one oh seven

pausing on your way to heaven?

You’re bereft of life as I will be

when my old heart gives out on me.

But now I hang you in my hall,

a dreg from life’s own carryall,

and strong reminder of our past–

cousins, joining hands at last.



Published May 20, 2021 by Nan Mykel






I doubt it’s a god, not even
an intelligent designer, but
there’s something so beyond
our ken at work out there, in here,
that we cannot begin to admit it
to ourselves.

Too many inexplicable surprises…
Where is the grand metaphor
for us to munch on in the abyss
of our nights? Our guesses are
getting colder, not hotter. Can
you feel it? The more we know,
the less.

What’s really behind our blind
spot? Where did mathematics
come from?

What gifts are we shuffling off
to the robots, and what will
they do with them?


Published January 5, 2021 by Nan Mykel

I DON’T like to think of canine pets as “dogs.” It doesn’t seem right. And of course the word for female canines is even worse…I found some warm quotes about canine pets at  Konrad Lorenz on Google. “The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this Earth can ever be.”

AS A CHILD I thought I might become a detective when I grew up because I could tell the good guys from the bad ones so easily…. (The good guys wore white hats and the bad ones, black hats.)

ONE SURE NEEDS a lot of faith in the miracles of evolution to avoid belief in intelligent design!  I’ve been doing some “escape” reading in Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell (Simon and Schuster (1982), and the concept of information theory is just beyond my ken. It’s exciting, however, to think that the unconscious rules of grammar pre-dated the acquisition of language. Some think it’s true for music and even numbers.  And to imagine what kind of communication scheme Neanderthal engaged in with his burial customs, etc., grabs the imagination. Interesting that child prodigies can be considered mutations from a hypothesized biological process yet not from the influence of a past life. (Not that I believe that; I’m just messing with you.)

SPEAKING OF messing, I wonder what precipitated our president to mess his pants on the eve of the runoff election in Georgia today. Gee, and on January 6 violent conspiracy theorists from all over the USA are invited to party wildly in Washington at 11 a.m. on the day the vice president is scheduled to present the results of the electoral college to the senate.

HOW ABOUT a way to inform bloggers that one of their followers (or those followed) has died? I’d like to leave an obituary that my daughter could enter so blog friends would know why I’m no longer writing. Writing a cheerful obituary would be a challenge.

In a Nutshell

Published February 28, 2019 by Nan Mykel

It was all laid out for us to see.  More than the condition of our culture; more like the human condition.  Monkeys throwing coconuts at another who fell.  One congressman on the verge of a heart attack, in his wrath.  The downed one’s existential grief more palpable and more manly than the last pilloried miscreant.

A reversal of The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

The pointing finger’s efforts to distract.  For the first time spoken aloud: if Trump loses in 2020 there will not be a peaceful transfer of power.

What responses crystallized in the hearts of the viewers?  How fitting that Elijah oversaw the proceedings.

My First Ghazal Attempt

Published May 10, 2017 by Nan Mykel


I first learned without suspicion about

the mechanical steamroller evolution.


How can a moral world flourish under

the uncaring constraints of evolution?


Not a thing but a process sans thought

or heart, this numbed evolution.


The human food chain enacted on tv

should be no surprise;   it’s evolution.


What hand was in the glove that delivered

from the womb of time evolution?



P.S. Just found the following in my messy desk but didn’t write the source down:

“Evolution has hidden from us the stuff that we don’t need to know, and that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be.”


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