In this illustration, the raisins and the bran flakes represent the organisms which selection acts upon, gravity, and the ‘box’ shape, and position are the natural laws; and the ‘shaking’ is the churn of environmental conditions. Under such conditions, the traits of ‘ round ’ and ‘ dense ’ possessed by some raisins enabled them to fall further down the box than the ‘flat’ and ‘thin’ traits of the bran flakes. And each generation (each shake of the box) accentuated this phenomenon. Over vast eons of time, lineages of living organisms have been sculpted by the ecological flows of this dynamic planet, similar to ‘raisins falling to the bottom of the box.’ So, in the Raisin Bran box of life, organi sms that adapted to new conditions, either via some new attribute, behavior, or a random mutation will have proliferated to a myriad of livable niches on this green E arth. The qualities of ‘round’ and ‘small’ in the case of the raisins have different parallels in the natural world, with traits that secure food, safety, and especially viable offspring, carrying great influence. Life is a big box of Raisin Bran. And the ‘raisins’ alive today are an amalgam of what worked during past environments.
So are rou nd, smooth raisins “fitter”? Only in the sense that attaining the bottom of the box is deemed important.
TaaL: In a big enough universe, given enough time, just about anything which is allowed by the rules of physics will happen somewhere. For instance, if the universe is large enough — and it probably is — there is an exact duplicate of the Earth out there, with you in it, who decided to go get a pizza and will never read this part of the book (these parallel selves would be pretty far away, about 10^10^29 meters apart on average, which underscores the difference between the “visible universe” and the “physical universe” if you care about that.) But I digress. If a sequence of events eventually results in a conscious being coming into existence, that conscious being will tend to see its history as having been inevitable, even though it wasn’t. High complexity is a rare side-effect in a universe which is in most ways as straightforward as a rock rolling down a hill, with life as a transient effect, important only to itself. Yet only this rare circumstance has allowed the creation of the virtual worlds in which consciousness can reside. Consciousness only came into existence because its existence served gene replication. It did not directly evolve; it is emergent from the brains which were created by the mindless juggling of the genes and is generally a hostage to a brain’s evolved configuration. You might say that evolution “happened u pon” a method to create captive souls which may be used and discarded as
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