Controversy today. Read on.
First, here’s some thought for all the readers out there. Don’t bother to send me e-mail full of verbal anthrax, I don’t remove entries, ever. Sue me. I knew there was a reason I bought and read the NY Times every morning with my coffee when I was in school. It’s because I like their willingness to present all points of view, even if unpopular.
Then, on another note… After a large on-line discussion about evolution, I have realized that virtually no-one out there without a degree in biology or anthropology actually has any clue at all about what evolution is. There is no space here for a full course, but let me at least clear up that there is no such thing as “de-evolving” or “stopping evolution” whether you are talking about humans or alligators or bacteria. Evolution does not stop, and it does not run backward. Evolution is a continuous process of change, like time.
Evolution does not have a goal; it is not a dialectic process. Simply put, when you have sex and produce a child, that child is not exactly like you, and it is not exactly like your mate. Congratulations; on the microcosmic scale, your child has evolved, relative to you. It does not mean that your child is better, stronger, or smarter than you; if your child has Down’s syndrome or turns out to be an idiot, it has not “de-evolved” relative to you either. Your child is simply different from its parents, with a new mix of genes; this, essentially, is evolution. Ignore the mainstream media’s portrayal of evolution as some kind of dialectical quest for the ideal. Evolution must never be confused with any concept of “progress” because the two are in no way associated, and to make this mistake is to think like Hitler. Progress is a social concept, not a biological one.
Evolution is simply change over time, nothing more and nothing less. And because time cannot be reversed or stopped, neither can evolution. Approach it this way — in the morning, it is light; in the evening, it is dark; when morning comes once again, it will be light again, and so on. Are these the same “light” and “dark” over and over again? Has time stopped? Certainly not; each day is a new day, different from the last. Similarly, when light follows a dark night, has time reversed, taking you back again to the daylight? Again, no — the day is a new one. Evolution works the same way. Change over time. Maybe some things repeat, maybe they do not. Maybe they make sense to us, maybe they do not. Just like each day is a new day, each generation — each child — is the result of parents’ genes mixing in new and interesting ways; some of the gene combinations will help a child to thrive, while other children will die; some of the children will be “beautiful” and make lots of new babies, mixing lots of genes up once again, while others will be “ugly” or unhealthy and will not reproduce at all. Through it all, no child is an exact copy of either of its parents. That’s evolution. Nothing more. It’s really very simple.
Sorry. I just couldn’t believe the people in the discussion saying things about how humans are now “de-evolving” or reaching some kind of abstract pinnacle which has “ended evolution” for all time. What nonsense; our American educational system is very lacking indeed, especially in the sciences.
That and there are a lot of bible-thumping, flag-waving fanatics around screaming “CHRIST!” at the top of their lungs not realizing that they are exactly like the terrorists and are lending themselves to the same educational values espoused by the Taliban… What’s really funny is to hear all the “Christians” spout off on the Internet about how the scientific method is a fraud. Where exactly do they think computers came from? I suppose they think God is sitting in a room somewhere zapping microprocessors into existence with his index finger. Not to mention cars, televisions, radios, acetaminophen [a.k.a. Tylenol] for their evolution-induced headaches, etc.
Guess God is pretty busy.