Did we evolve to be courtship machines?

By October 12, 2012Uncategorized

The intelligent design people are right about one thing: our capacity for art, literature, music, comedy, and moral virtue is far too amazing to have evolved by blind chance through natural selection. Human creative intelligence is so remarkable that it must have been guided by some intelligent force.

Psychologist Geoffrey Miller elaborates:

Only 10 percent of Americans believe that natural selection, alone and unguided, can account for the human mind’s astounding abilities. Most think that the mind’s evolution must have been guided by some intelligent force, some active designer. Despite being a committed Darwinian, I share these doubts. I do not think that natural selection for survival can explain the human mind. Our minds are entertaining, intelligent, creative, and articulate far beyond the demands of surviving on the plains of Pleistocene Africa. To me, this points to the work of some intelligent force and some active designer. However, I think the active designers were our ancestors, using their powers of sexual choice to influence—unconsciously—what kind of offspring they produced. By intelligently choosing their sexual partners for their mental abilities, our ancestors became the intelligent force behind the human mind’s evolution.

I came to believe that the Darwinian revolution could capture the citadel of human nature only by becoming more of a sexual revolution—by giving more credit to sexual choice as a driving force in the mind’s evolution. Evolutionary psychology must become less Puritan and more Dionysian. Where others thought about the survival problems our ancestors faced during the day, I wanted to think about the courtship problems they faced at night. In poetic terms, I wondered whether the mind evolved by moonlight. Sexual selection theory offered valuable intelligence about aspects of human nature that are important to us, and that cry out for evolutionary explanation, but that have been ignored, dismissed, or belittled in the past.

—Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature

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