Tag Archives: Insects

Charles Darwin, The Human Being

descent-of-man

Sexual differences in freshwater Swordtail. Male has a long tail appendage to show off to the ladies.

I consider Charles Darwin’s The Origin Of Species and The Descent Of Man two of the greatest books never read by creationists. Both are beautiful works celebrating the details of the natural world. But many creationists condemn them without even a glance. They read reviews, they often say, or they rely on the “experts” to judge the value of Darwin’s “theories”. The unwilling creationists don’t know what they’re missing.

Even within Darwin’s dry technical books -as apposed to his personal journals or autobiography- there is the occasional glimpse into his sense of humor. In The Descent of Man, for instance, one can read a hundred pages of qualitative data and then be surprised with a mild joke, an anecdote, or a quip about the French. Here Darwin talks about the quiet female Cicada:

Every one who has wandered in a tropical forest must have been astonished at the din made by the male Cicadæ. The females are mute; as the Grecian poet Xenarchus says, “Happy the Cicadas live, since they all have voiceless wives.”

See, wife jokes were funny in 19th century England and ancient Greece. And it goes to show that a century is not a long period of time at all. The year 1871, when The Descent Of Man was published, was yesterday. In the 18th century, Charles’ grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, once wrote about lending a college friend his class notes. The friend angrily returned them with a scribble across the cover, which accused him of atrocious spelling and being the son of a whore. Charles Darwin, you devil, you’re a human being after all. And you’re “descended from monkeys”.

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The Great Darwinian Conspiracy

Dissect any creationist’s arguments and you’ll eventually uncover a belief in a worldwide Darwinian conspiracy. Scientists everywhere are hiding the truth of creation and teaching evolution as part of a vague shadowy plot to destroy religion and to corrupt the world’s youth with liberal ideas. Why should scientists do this? Is it for that sweet professorship level income? Is it to be in the presence of mobs of grateful undergraduate students? Or are all scientists radicals?

A better question is do scientists get along well enough to concoct a conspiracy? I’ve just finished reading The Earth Dwellers: Adventures in The Land Of Ants by Erich Hoyt. And featured in this book is entomologist Edward O. Wilson, who’s famous for creating the sub-field called sociobiology. One of the implications of sociobiology is that human behavior is partly genetic. Unfortunately, some people erroneously saw hints of social-Darwinism, racism, and sexism, in Wilson’s work. As a result, Wilson received nasty criticism and personal attacks not only from the public but from his colleagues at Harvard University. Two of his most vocal critics were fellow professors Stephen J. Gould and Richard C. Lewontin. Do you feel the love?

In the book, we also get a glimpse into Wilson’s feelings toward James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. The author writes:

Wilson found Watson the most unpleasant, scornful scientist he had ever met. Watson’s discovery [DNA structure] was so earth-shattering that he [Watson] became a “Caligula” who could do or say no wrong. In spite of Watson’s disdain, Wilson deeply admired the man’s accomplishment and even his sheer audacity. He credits Watson as his “brilliant enemy” or “adverse hero”.

This is just one example of conflict amongst scientists. The history of science is fraught with nasty disagreements. What good scientist wouldn’t disagree with a colleague in order to gain personal glory? If the evidence and data indicate a contrary opinion, then that’s the path one must take? Wilson found Watson “unpleasant”, but he still admired the man’s work. It’s the work that counts, not loyalty and ideology. Of course, scientists are human, and like everyone they have their biases. But most of the time they have no misgivings about following the data wherever it leads. This is why a worldwide conspiracy to hide the “truth of creation” simply wouldn’t work. And this is why evolutionary science couldn’t be suppressed in the 19th century.

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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Intelligent Design Garbage

Biologist Kenneth Miller destroys intelligent design by pointing out how in living creatures the function of a structure can change over time. And if the function is mutable nothing can ever be irreducibly complex. Example: The stinger in honey bees is a modified egg depositor (ovipositor), which is why male bees cannot sting. The natural world is filled with tinkering and re-tinkering, not design. But, of course, ID supporters just ignore the lack of evidence for irreducible complexity and they keep on vomiting up pseudoscientific garbage.     

www.TheDarwinReport.com

 

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Creationism On Amazon.com

While checking out one of David Attenborough’s great nature videos, Life in the Undergrowth, on Amazon.com, I came across some negative reviews left by creationists. It’s a noticeable trend; creationists trash good scientific books and videos. Sadly, no where in their reviews do they actually make valid points. They simply proclaim the falseness of evolution and truth of creationism. It’s often apparent that they haven’t even read the book or watched the video in question. A user named Debbie gave Life in the Undergrowth 1 star and left these useless words of wisdom:

We were all very disappointed with these DVDs. They were FULL of evolution. Too bad that the beautiful photography wasn’t just shown with descriptions of the the little critters. The evolution was throughout…couldn’t just skip a few spots. Just wanted to notify other Creationists.

Another user named Anna gave it 3 stars and this review:

This would have been a four star if they had stuck to the biology of the insects rather than their “origin”. Really annoying if you don’t believe in the evolution theory.

Of course, in the creationist mindset, the biology of insects has nothing at all to do with their origin. But if the video had mentioned creationism in a positive light, Ann and Debbie probably wouldn’t have minded so much, having some “origin” mixed in with some “biology”. On a positive note some sane people shot back with comments of their own:

This is a BBC documentary. The BBC is British. In Britain we have no time for crack-pot ‘theories’ like creationism. You are a silly person. Thankfully, and judging by the other reviews, I don’t think all Americans are quite so silly.

You review unfortunately says nothing about the content of this DVD. Perhaps if you would view it without preconceived notions, you might have learned more and given customers a more informative review.

Oh my! Evolution, next you will tell me the earth is not flat, and the universe does not rotate around the Earth.

I cannot help but make a sexist remark at this point; Debbie and Anna are probably some busybody, ultra-conservative, religious right, soccer moms, who protect their brats from life by filtering out reality. And they probably network with their own kind. It’s just a guess.

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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