• Thomas A. Wilson

Bullfrogs and Butterflies

Updated: May 6, 2019

The world’s largest religious group holds to a belief where, they say, evidence of God is inextricably linked to the physical world. Creation is evidence of the divine—according to their holy text—by virtue of its complexity, beauty, and cohesion. Others believe that the nature of evolution ensures that crude, grotesque, and anomalous forms are discarded. So, there’s no need for a watchmaker to explain the balanced and beautiful windings of the universe. Spontaneous creation is the explanation, so said the late Stephen Hawking.

Either way, there’s something to learn from what surrounds us—something to learn from the bullfrog, butterfly, and bumblebee. Aristotle classified animals into three primary categories: things that crawl, things that swim, and things that fly. His system was doomed because so many animals don’t fit neatly into his method. The penguin, for example, is a bird but it does not fly. Of our trio of creatures above, each experiences metamorphosis.

They operate, at different stages of their development, in more than one medium. The tadpole swims, the frog hops. The caterpillar crawls, the butterfly flutters. The larvae wiggles, and the bumblebee (rather inexplicably) flies. With this as a pattern, might it be true that authentic men operate in more than one dimension? If yes, then life has deeper meanings—and that takes us smack dab into a conflict with one of the greatest minds of the modern age.

Stephen Hawking rejected Aristotelian metaphysics with its idea of a prime mover. Sadly, his brilliant mind didn’t offer a satisfying substitute:

There’s nothing mystical out there. The universe just happened. Those who believe otherwise embrace fairy stories because they’re afraid of the dark. Trust me on this. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Um, thanks Steve, for nothing—I guess.

It’s fair to say that science’s first star (Aristotle) didn’t too much impress science’s most recent star (Hawking). Aristotle had all kinds of ideas related to the meaning of life. Many contemporary thinkers are disappointed that all Hawking left us is disappointment. Like Queen Victoria, who (upon hearing a story tinged with scandal) offered the assessment, “We are not amused,” many of us hoped that the author of A Brief History of Time might somehow shed a little light on this meaning-of-life thing. Forty-two, as funny as it is, only satisfies for the first few chuckles. We expected more.

So, what’s to be done? How can we reconcile the wonderful abundance-of-life-teeming-all-around with something that might approach meaning? Our animal trio compels a little more scrutiny. Let’s start with the bullfrog. They join all-male groups—they’re called choruses. Yep, male bullfrogs hang out and sing. They sound good, and the ladies like it.

Many male butterflies, on the other hand, have dimorphism (it’s a good thing). They are more colorful and flamboyant than their female counterparts. They look good, and the females don’t mind.

Male bumblebees have their own strategy. They cruise for chicks. Drones smell good—and they establish patrol circuits by excreting pheromones in hopes of attracting royalty. And they do. ;)

So, somehow, God or evolution or something made it possible for animals, including authentic men, to very happily go about the business of courting, consorting, and consummating. Let’s hear it for the responsible party! I wonder, why didn’t the system evolve a process where an adult lifeform might kind of dispassionately squeeze really hard and pop out a little clone? That would be efficient, wouldn’t it? Critters with crappy DNA would die off pretty quickly—food for those with superior helixes—and survival of the fittest could play out without a lot of distracting altruism. Know what I mean?

After all the squeezing and chasing and biting and digesting, we really would have a world based on survival of the fittest. Instead, we have this convoluted place where people love one another. And they take care of one another—even when the other can’t take care of himself. Isn’t that right, Steve?

So, here’s to sounding good, looking good, and smelling good. For me, like our animal trio, I’m going to operate in two dimensions. I’m going to operate in survival mode and love mode. I’m going to freely offer songs of worship, cover myself in faith, and offer sweet (I hope) aromas in prayer. At this point in my metamorphosis, it’s the most natural thing I can think of.

I’m not really afraid of the dark—but I have a profound respect for the Light.


Real men work out matters of religiosity or spirituality for themselves. Doing so gives meaning (for today) and hope (for tomorrow), which are both powerful contributors to the satisfied life.

Affirmation of the Week: As a man of integrity, I live harmoniously with my personal faith system—becoming more and more proficient, every day, with the things that matter to me most.

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