Yesterday I posted a defense of creationism. I would guess that some fundamentalists cheered.
“Not so fast, my friend.” I’m not on anybody’s side.
I’m on everybody’s side which if you think about it, means I’m opposed to sides altogether. I’m trying to get people to talk, and listen to one another. And to do that, I have to convince people that we’re all nuts.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
I have taught college biology on occasions, and typically on the first day I ask for a show of hands from those who don’t believe in evolution (or Darwinism). There are always a number of kids who don’t.
So I make them an offer. I tell them I’m going to list the things evolution says, and urge them to stop me whenever they object. Here we go:
First, in any species — animal, plant, whatever — there are many more offspring produced than can possibly survive.
Any objections? No.
Second, some individuals will have advantages that help them survive, they will be stronger, faster, smarter. Again, no objections.
Third, some of those advantages are ‘heritable,’ they can be passed on to offspring.
Any objections so far? No.
And then I tell them, That’s it. That’s all the theory of evolution says. It says nothing about God, the origins of life, or who created humanity.
From this we see that creationists and Darwinists can all agree on intraspecific, ‘small’ evolution, the sorts of things that give us different varieties of sheep and cattle. The problem is not evolution, the problem is the extent of evolution; as we say in pharmacology, “It’s not the drug, it’s the dose that makes the poison.” At least we have a starting point where fundamentalists and scientists agree, and that’s not small.
Next up: Boredom on a Deserted Island
Picture: William Blake, “Newton”, courtesy of Wikimedia.org. Compare to yesterday’s picture, “Ancient of Days” also by William Blake.