Tuesday, November 26, 2013


They Grow 'Em Ignorant in Texas

This is more in the line of the Sensuous Curmudgeon but I can't resist. A Letter to the Editor in the Victoria (Texas) Advocate, in response to a lecture given by Nicholas Wade at Victoria College, says the following:
It's regrettable that he had no rebuttal from the other side, for evolution has enough flaws as to make it laughable.
Which, of course, is why upwards of 98% of scientists knowledgeable in biology accept it. They just have a good sense of humor.

Then there is the obligatory hoary quote mine of Darwin about the vertebrate eye, so beloved by the ignoratti, and the claim that it was "men of faith" who gave science its start, as if that changes the fact that those men (and, ahem, women) were, nonetheless, intent on using the methods of science to understand the material world.

But then it gets funny, with the writer assuming, in a classic petitio principii, that it was all aimed at producing human beings:
Here are some of my favorite ideas contrary to evolution: How did the evolutionary forces know there existed in the cosmos such things as taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing so they could develop those senses in man?
But, of course, knowing what was in your environment and what might eat you, or might be eaten by you, was of great use to all organisms. As was pointed out by Darwin, a simple eye spot was use enough in the land of the blind to set off an evolutionary "arms race" that favors ever better eyes and other senses.

Next there is this:
How did those forces understand that communication was desirable and so give man a voice?
Any of the old talk.origins "howlers" will understand that communication among social species, from monkey warnings, to ant pheromones, to bee dances, to prairie dog chirps, to elephant trumpets, etc., etc., are of use in survival of the population. All those, and many more, have "voices."

After a brief digression into 'how do we account for beauty, love and sex?' (which can be explained by such things as color sense needed for selecting ripe fruit to eat, sexual selection, and the need to swap genes to avoid parasites, among many other reasons), comes the truly precious argument:
The greatest wonder is that of man himself. As for him, consider all the protective devices built in to his body to ensure his survival: blood that clots; adrenaline that gives man an extra burst of energy in cases of emergency; properties in the blood that resist infection; pain to serve as a warning; protective reflexes such as sneezing, coughing and vomiting; and the balance mechanism in our inner ear that keeps us from falling down.
If the "protective devices" human beings have show that they are the "greatest wonder" of life, then the author should be able to name all the mammals, from shrews to elephants, that don't have blood clotting, adrenaline, immune systems, pain, sneezing, coughing, vomiting (good grief, hasn't he ever owned a cat?) and a balance mechanism in their inner ear.

He won't, of course. The arrogance and ignorance is strong in this one.

The "flaws" he sees in evolutionary science are not flaws at all but just a deep lack of knowledge of biology.

Note the lurking quasi-Platonism: "...there existed in the cosmos such things as taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing..."

Nope. There is no Form of Vision (or the rest), waiting to be discovered and instantiated. Those things didn't exist, anywhere, at all, until some organism, here or elsewhere in the cosmos, developed the ability to notice that particular environmental stimulus. Because, as you note, it's useful to have information about one's surroundings.

I can remember as a kid being told just how amazing it was that human vision happens to be best on the wavelengths of light that can pass through the atmosphere. That, I was told, surely could not be just a coincidence and had to be designed!

And, of course, our circadian rhythm exactly matches the Earth's 24 hour days, plants and their seeds and fruit mature in time not to be killed by winter and bears hibernate at just the right time of year. Amazin' innit?
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