I’m still working my way through Jerry Coynes’ Why Evolution Is True. In today’s reading, Coynes tackles a question that (according to him) baffles a lot of creationists: Why did God make male animals that have the ability to attract women with certain characteristics—such as bright colors, or long tails, or loud calls, or (in the case of deer) huge antlers to use in jousting contests that impress females—and yet those very characteristics can inhibit those animals’ survival? Bright colors and loud calls can attract females, but also predators. And the huge antlers of deer can be a heavy burden for them.
Coynes’ answer, from an evolutionary standpoint, is that the survival of the male animals is not what truly matters. Rather, what’s important is the ability of the male animal to sexually reproduce and pass on his own genes. His attractive characteristics accomplish that, even if they hinder his survival.