"Francisco Ayala likens natural selection to the work of a painter who "creates a picture by mixing and distributing pigments in various ways over the canvas. The canvas and the pigments are not created by the artist but the painting is." But of course, an artist does not make random brush strokes on millions of canvases, selecting the one she likes best while discarding the others, only to repeat the process millions of times until a picture emerges. The artist has a preconceived idea in her mind of the picture she will paint and she makes a series of highly coordinated brush strokes to bring her painting into existence. If natural selection is like a painter, natural selection must be an intelligent process."
The link is a whole essay on the use of analogies in thinking about evolution.
"Darwin's theory of natural selection is like a recipe with three ingredients. We start with variation. Individuals such as you and I differ in just about anything that can be measured, such as height, eye color, or quickness to anger. Then we add consequences. "
"For these three reasons, Jacob rejects an analogy between natural selection and engineering, and instead he proposes the metaphor that natural selection is like a bricoleur (tinkerer). Like natural selection, a tinkerer works with no specific end in mind, collecting any materials at his disposal, and rearranges them into a workable object. Thus, contingency constitutes the main feature of evolutionary processes."
"Natural selection is like the tale about the Buddhist monk and the disciple who were attacked by the tiger and the disciple says to his master, "Oh Master, we're going to be killed because we cannot possibly outrun the tiger," and the master says, "No, I just have to run faster than you." Well, selection is always relative; it always depends on what the picture is of reproductive success in that population at the time that it's happening."
"Natural selection is like artificial selection, except that, instead of humans doing the choosing, nature does the choosing ... Natural selection, nature, is constantly choosing which individuals shall live, which individuals shall breed "
"As this documentary relates, C. S. Lewis took Bergson's objection to heart. And he answered Bergson's question: natural selection cannot add anything positive that the life form does not already have. Natural selection is like a non-creative editor. It deletes information; it cannot write information."
"Materialists show no detailed explanation as to how random mutations
can incrementally build this machine where each step in the assembly produces no function until all have been
taken. Natural selection is like a saboteur until beneficial function arises."
"Begbie apparently does not understand that evolution/natural selection is like a blind worm, tormented by brambles (predators, illness) every time it makes a move. It naturally moves to better places, bit by tiny bit, without any planning. You don't have to be brilliant to make progress, given enough time. Evolution has millions of years to work with. Even with an I.Q. of 1, (the approximate computation power of the process of natural selection) you can still have impressive results."
"The mutations are random. Natural selection is like a sieve. Those genes that produce an organism that is well suited to the environment will be more likely to reproduce than those that are less well suited. Those genes will tend to dominate in a population. If the environment changes the gene pool changes by the process I just mentioned. "
"The force of natural selection is like a fleet of machines that digs a maze of paths leading from each of us to various ports of call, and most of our activity in life is confined to that pre-existing infrastructure. Our opportunities to influence the world are naturally limited by how we tend to think and by what our bodies can do, which limits are culturally and biologically set."
"Evolution by natural selection is like a mathematical game in the sense that it has players, strategies, strategy sets, and payoffs."
"It's possible natural selection is like a type of constantly shifting game of rock paper scissors. The difference is that rock may temporarily grow more powerful and kill off more scissors, but soon paper will rise to defeating rock again and scissors will evolve to becoming more resistant to rock, like an organic stairway of evolution between the predators and the prey."
"This process is a process of optimisation. The natural selection is like a search algorithm for finding the best solution of living in a particular, natural environment. Certainly, the system of nature can not easily be transferred to technical systems."
"A car has been made so that it has a top speed of 110mph. This has been observed many times. The things you are presupposing is that the car on its own can go beyond what it was made to do, and even can become a different thing altogether (a robot) that is capable of doing things that the car was never observed doing. You believe more in "Transformers" than changes in the speed of a vehicle. You believe natural selection is like a mechanic that has the ability to carefully tear the car apart, go to the parts store to buy new materials and completely different parts, than make it look like a different vehicle that has a new, more powerful engine and capabilities it didn't have before, such as reasoning and ability to communicate, like in the "Transformers" movies or in Disney and Pixar's "Cars"."
METAMIA is a free database of analogy and metaphor. Anyone can contribute or search. The subject matter can be anything. Science is popular, but poetry is encouraged. The goal is to integrate our fluid muses with the stark literalism of a relational database. Metamia is like a girdle for your muses, a cognitive girdle.