"Tree of Life" metaphors, in words and images, have been around for eons, and bound up with many varied mythologies. It is interesting how Darwin choose such an image, deeply tied as it is to religious myths. Or rather, as the story goes, the image choose him. His first sketch of it, seen above, came in his journals aboard the Beagle, and the conceptual metaphor became ingrained in his head for how to imagine adaptation and survival. It was redrawn and became the only image to accompany the Origin of Species.
But I think both religion and science have evolved in the past 150 years, so that the visual metaphor no longer works with our current understanding. A more provocative way to think about the adaptation of religious traditions looks like a version of this info-chart on "How Music Travels" [http://infosthetics.com/archives/2011/11/how_music_travels_the_evolution_of_western_dance_music.html] With religious genera and species, there are ebbs and flows, movements in and across time and space, that never branch off completely. They continually intersect.
Since this 2009 show, Terrence Malick created his own version of the religion-science mix in his "Tree of Life." [See ]
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