Re: Further Evolution beyond the Human? (Sardonic Diatribe)

Paul Myers (
Wed, 09 Oct 1996 19:43:31 -0400

In article <53h1oj$>, wrote:

> Adam Price <> wrote:
> >As long as we have Darwin in stocks for creating evolution, I would like
> >to get some thing off of my chest about Mr. Newton. It is because of
> >that blasphemer that we are all landlocked. If not for his evil
> >discovery, gravity, we would not be condemned to spend all our lives
> >watching birds from below and dropping our toothpaste into the toilet.
> >Speaking of toilets, if it wasn't for Thomas Crapper, I would not have
> >to go to the bathroom right now.
> >....
> There are two gigantic differences which squash the rather primitive
> analogy which you are trying to make.
> One is that Newton discovered a real fact of the natural world and did a
> reasonable job of describing it for his day. Darwin did not. His
thesis (that
> the kinds of microevolutionary change which we observe in a schnauzer
> being bred into a terrier or a finch with one sort of beak changing into a
> finch with another kind of beak can explain the rise of all of our present
> lifeforms from the most simple to the most complex) was known by breeders
> to be fatally flawed when it was proposed and has been blown apart by several
> excellent books which have been published in the last 10 years or so.

No, Darwin and Newton are very comparable: evolution and natural selection ARE
real observable phenomena in the world today, and Darwin provided a theoretical
framework (an admittedly incomplete framework) based on solid observation that
did a marvelous job of explaining the real world.

> Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box" and Alexander Mebane's "Darwin's
> Creation Myth" would do for starters.

Scientists find holes in evolutionary theory all the time; they spend a lot of
effort trying to understand those differences, and work to find rational
explanations for real phenomena. Any one can find problems and difficulties
in any complex scientific principle. One indicator that you are dealing with
an incompetent jerk who has found a problem is that their answer is to throw
out the complex scientific principle altogether, without providing any new
integrating idea to fill in the resulting vacuum. Another indicator is when
they can't even recognize the legitimate issues, and instead contrive
logical absurdities that completely miss the mark. Mebane and Behe meet
both criteria.

> The other difference is that nothing in Newton's description of gravity could
> be said to have caused any marked worsening of human conduct. Darwin's
> theory has done that and the outcome was altogether predictable. Certainly
> there were villians, blackguards, hoodlums, neerdowells and whatnot before
> Darwin, but they always felt BAD about it. Those people went to bed every
> night thinking "Gee, you know, I really am an asshole, and I probably ought to
> try to do something about it..." Their conduct and the harm they caused was
> thus kept within limits and, occasionally, one of them would mend his ways
> altogether or, as in the case of Andrew Carnegie, leave all of his money to
> worthy and just causes.

So all that nastiness was OK if they felt guilty about it? Again, I think you
are doing a good job of describing religion, not a scientific theory.
Think of all
the evil that has been done by men who then salved their consciences by
saying a prayer or making a donation to the church! Bad men have always tried
to legitimize the wrongs they do by making excuses; evolution has never been
much of a religion in that way, compared to, say, the Catholic church (as an
example...I'm not picking on catholics in particular).
> Darwin walked into the picture and told every one of those types, all over
> the world, that the <survival of the fittest> was the only moral law in
> nature, i.e. that they could feel GOOD about being assholes. The results
> are obvious in any reading of the history of this century.

So, Ted, the burning question in my mind is, do YOU use evolution as an excuse
to feel good about being that way, or do you think it's OK because you feel
guilty about it?

Paul Myers Department of Biology Temple University Philadelphia, PA 19122