18 August 2008

Breaking news: 'the evolution of lungs doesn't create air'

Well blow me down. This revelation is from a Comment is Free piece in the Guardian which gives the Genius of Charles Darwin a booting for giving creationism and intelligent design a booting and for not considering 'evolutionary convergence' which
"raises the possibility of directionality in evolution."
Er, TGOCD was (and this evening will be) about the genius of Charles Darwin (the clue's in the programme title), not about
"a new collection of essays by leading evolutionists, philosophers and theologians in a book, entitled The Deep Structure of Biology."
Go and read the whole thing. I did and I shall now go and start removing the shrapnel from my recently exploded bilgeometer from the cat, ceiling and walls.


Bob O'Hara said...

Both the cat and myself appreciate the warning about bilgeometers.

Karen James said...

Don't read this comment if you don't want to read a rant.

Mark Vernon needs to do some research. He thinks just because he wants to believe something (i.e. that evolution/the universe is purposeful).

Mark claims that the many examples of convergent evolution found in nature mean that evolution itself is directional.

"This is anathema to the old school," he tells us (translation: "anyone who disagrees is simply not cutting edge like I am").

Well, go ahead and call me old school, Mark, because though I agree (and find fascinating) that the same evolutionary novelties can be produced in independent lineages with similar environmental (and developmental-genetic!) constraints, I don't think you can just extrapolate out and assume that all of evolution is heading in a single direction.

There is a big difference between local convergence (local in terms of morphological-genetic-environmental space) and the sort of cosmically relevant convergence he is hinting at here.

In summary, a few big incisors in different branches of the cat family tree does not a purposeful universe make.

And now we get to the real whopper. Mark poses the question, "what if instead of creating these niches, evolution is exploring pre-existing realities...?" as if by saying "what if" it somehow means it has to be true, or even possible.

Mark then talks more about these "pre-existing realities" including something about some kind of mental antenna, but really, it's all just a big "what if" game that makes people like Mark feel warm and fuzzy in the face of a cold hard universe.

Karen James said...

Oh dear, that first para should read, "...just because he wants to believe something (...) that he is intellectually allowed to pretend that it might be true.