Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Practically a Necessity

Here is a review of a book, The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life, by University of Michigan professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, David Mindell, that promises to answer the common creationist canard that evolution theory is "useless." Even if the importance of knowledge could be measured by its economic or human "output," evolution is not without its practical benefits. As Mindell points out:
Mindell explains the purpose of his book as follows:

What I was after there was to show people that when you have really big important ideas - there is a small number of ideas in the history of science that have had such a big impact on the way that humans see themselves, a relative handful of ideas - they have all taken a long time. It's not just evolution. I wanted to make the case that it takes some of these important ideas a very long time to percolate through society until they reach acceptance not just by people who have more of a naturalistic world view, as opposed to a supernatural world view.

And his conclusion as to what fuels that change is:

[W]hen something is useful, people quit all the ideology. Ideology is generally trumped by utility. People will still remain ideologues of some sort, but they realize they just can't push it here because it's just useful. And every time it's used it vindicates all the methods that underlie it.

While I doubt that the examples given in the review are about to make instant converts out of the likes of Henry Morris, Ken Ham or Kent Hovind, perhaps, as the knowledge of the practical contribution of evolutionary theory to our lives becomes more widely known, there will be a wider appreciation of the intellectual grandeur of this view of life.

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