I Am Evolution (from NPR’s “This I Believe”)

Holly Dunsworth is a paleoanthropologist and she writes today’s This I Believe segment titled I Am Evolution. Here’s an excerpt:

Of course I believe evolution.

But that is different from believing in evolution.

To believe in something takes faith, trust, effort, strength. I need none of these things to believe evolution. It just is. My health is better because of medical research based on evolution. My genetic code is practically the same as a chimpanzee’s. My bipedal feet walk on an earth full of fossil missing links. And when my feet tire, those fossils fuel my car.

It’s a short read and you can even click a link to listen to it if you want.

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6 Responses

  1. pa·le·o·an·thro·pol·o·gy. The study of humanlike creatures more primitive than Homo sapiens.

    For the discerning, atheists and evolutionists use language as a ruse…

    The investigation’s assessment of contracted gradation is far from being new. Darwin was fully cognizant that he could not prove the “theory of evolution” and could not explain its mechanism, especially in so-called well-defined species: the connotation erroneously suggests that there are less-defined or more primitive species when all evidence is to the contrary. The scientific council uses language as a ruse in lieu of documented facts in order to promote protracted gradation; hence, the phraseology is offensive. Again, stability, not variance, is the third law of procreation.

    Darwin’s studies revealed a wide variety of life forms, but what caused these varieties? Again, natural selection was thought to be the answer. In theory, those species best adapted to the environment tend to reproduce more offspring and transmit hereditary improvements (in slight variations); those less able to adapt to the environment leave fewer offspring and eventually die out. After a succession of generations, there is a tendency for the species to adapt to a greater degree, thus, improving the lineage.

    Regrettably, Darwin was unable to grasp the reality of certain rudimental processes which he had observed; for instance, the runt of a litter being abandoned by its parent or a sickly creature preyed upon by a fox or wolf. Although these familiar aspects of procreation are vital to the continuance of the species, the phenomena must not be confused as protracted gradation in the process. Darwin, misguided by his obsession, incorrectly deemed the ritual to be natural selection, when, in truth, he was observing an inherent process of procreation which may be correctly called
    the guardian of the wild. The familiar process is responsible for weeding out weak and sickly members of the species (i.e., those less likely to survive), not to improve the species but rather as a measure to insure the health and strength of the species as a whole. Make no mistake; new species are not derived by the guardian of the wild.

    Darwin, incognizant of the manifest workings of procreation, attacked the “benevolence” of God, disdaining the guardian of the wild as the “clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horribly cruel works of (Mother) nature.” It revolted his understanding to suppose that God’s “benevolence was unbounded” in such instances (benevolence—”an inclination to perform kindhearted, charitable acts”). Although it may seem a curiosity, those men and women who hate God will always attack His benevolence by asking the questions: If God is so benevolent, why are there wars? Why is slavery so cruel? Why is there so much injustice in the world? And so on. Be it known that one or more transgressions of the holy commandments are the culprits in such instances, not God. A more definitive answer will be forthcoming in Volume 7 of The Quest for Right.

    The remarkable, yet troublesome, aspect of the foregoing is that Darwin spent a lifetime observing procreation but failed to realize the truth except in the simplest of matters. Then again, the failure is not too disconcerting in light of the fact that he was working in the scientific void of the 1800’s. As is the case, errors abound; hence, any work by Darwin is unacceptable reading. Let the reader beware. — Volume 4 , The Quest for Right

  2. Nice post with a good link. Too bad Mr. Parsons hijacked it to advertise his textbook series.

  3. @Chappy,
    You’re so right. I considered deleting it as the spam it obviously is, but thought I’d take the opportunity to rip up this “book series” instead.

    C. David Parsons said:

    pa·le·o·an·thro·pol·o·gy. The study of humanlike creatures more primitive than Homo sapiens.

    Not quite. I’m going to keep the cigar if you don’t mind. Paleoanthropologists do study species prior to H. sapiens, but they also study H. sapiens as well. In fact, studying anatomically modern humans is a huge part of paleoanthropology.

    For the discerning, atheists and evolutionists use language as a ruse…

    While I’m sure that there are “atheists and evolutionists” that “use language as a ruse,” this certainly isn’t the case generally, occasionally, or even often enough to be a concern. Particularly when such tactics are clearly used by the superstitious. I noticed that you make the claim that “atheists and evolutionists use language as a ruse” without actually backing it up with specific examples. An example of creationists using deceptive language is the equivocation of “theory” with “speculation.” Its no longer a matter of ignorance and poor education on the part of the superstitious since this argument has been defeated and debunked time and again by the rational. Therefore, superstitious people who hold to notions of young earth creation by a god are deliberately ignoring the legitimate use of “theory” as it applies to science and attempting to deceive less informed believers using “language as a ruse.”

    The investigation’s assessment of contracted gradation is far from being new. Darwin was fully cognizant that he could not prove the “theory of evolution” and could not explain its mechanism, especially in so-called well-defined species: the connotation erroneously suggests that there are less-defined or more primitive species when all evidence is to the contrary.

    Since you don’t list a citation from where this term originates, merely implying that it was a term used by Charles Darwin, what are we to make of your criticism? Incidentally, the failure to provide adequate citations is very bad form for a text alleging itself to be a “textbook.” Since, like most creationists, you seem to revel in erecting straw man arguments regarding Charles Darwin, I think it’s safe to assume you’ve picked up his use of the phrase in one or both of the only two places Darwin mentions “well-defined” regarding speciation in On the Origin of Species. Since most significant and in-depth of these two passages occurs in the chapter on Natural Selection (between pages 100-150), perhaps this is the “well-defined species” you so ignorantly assume includes an erroneous connotation of “less-defined” or “more primitive species when all evidence is to the contrary.”

    Omitting the fact that you conveniently decline to provide any citation to this “evidence” (again, very bad form for an alleged “textbook” -scare-quotes intentional), there is also the fact that you seem to be misusing language to create a deception. To any informed, educated, or rational reader of On the Origin of Species, this passage (as well as the only other that includes “well-defined” with regard to speciation) is attempting to demonstrate the gradation of variations within a species that, slowly over time, gradually results in a new species. An ornithologist can look at two different varieties of pigeon and see clear and distinct variations that define them as separate “breeds,” but the variations haven’t culminated enough to define them as separate species. They might still mate and produce viable, non-sterile offspring. Finches, however, are separate species from pigeons, yet they share a common ancestor. Darwin may not have been able to “prove” evolution through the mechanism of natural selection, but he laid the groundwork that allowed later scientists to do just that. Evolution is fact. And an abundance of evidence exists to demonstrate that fact regardless of whether the superstitious chose to educate themselves or not.

    The scientific council uses language as a ruse in lieu of documented facts in order to promote protracted gradation; hence, the phraseology is offensive. Again, stability, not variance, is the third law of procreation.

    This is basically a nonsense passage. There’s no supporting citation to what this alleged “scientific council” is; no citation to an example of their “ruse in lieu of documented facts;” no citation to the actual “documented facts” being referred to; and what appears to be a completely made up “law of procreation.” This is evidence that the author of these alleged “textbooks” is merely a crank and certainly *not* an intellectual interested in truth, evidence, or objective reality. I will agree, however, that the phraseology is offensive -Parson’s, that is.

    We shall skip his paragraph that includes the “guardian of the wild” mumbo-jumbo. More made up terminology, certainly characteristic of crankery rather than intellectual discourse, so worth noting only to make that point.

    Darwin, incognizant of the manifest workings of procreation

    There’s no evidence cited that demonstrates this. Indeed, anyone who’s actually read his works would gain much useful insight on procreation, which is merely the act of reproducing. If nothing else is gained, an appreciation for the ability of individual species to overcome their environment and survive to procreate and, thus, pass on their DNA to their descendants is obtained.

    [Darwin] attacked the “benevolence” of God, disdaining the guardian of the wild as the “clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horribly cruel works of (Mother) nature.” It revolted his understanding to suppose that God’s “benevolence was unbounded” in such instances (benevolence—”an inclination to perform kindhearted, charitable acts”).

    For the number of inverted commas Parsons has used here, one should expect citations to the works that are being quoted. Sadly, they are not forthcoming, leaving his readers (if any other than us exist) to either search out these quotes by Darwin on our own to see their original contexts and verify that they do, indeed, exist; or merely accept them at face value with an assumption that they are quotes genuinely attributed to Charles Darwin as implied. Personally, I lean toward the former in believing that these are not actual quotes by Darwin or, if they are, that their contexts are drastically different than the straw man erected by Parsons.

    Although it may seem a curiosity, those men and women who hate God will always attack His benevolence by asking the questions: If God is so benevolent, why are there wars? Why is slavery so cruel? Why is there so much injustice in the world? And so on. Be it known that one or more transgressions of the holy commandments are the culprits in such instances, not God.

    This assumes that these people believer that there truly is a god to question the motives of. Instead, those that ask such questions are, to my experience, arguing from the hypothetical as part of a philosophical thought experiment. They don’t necessarily believe the underlying premise, that a god exists, to be true; but they hypothetically assume it is to show logical problems with a priori assumption of existence of a god when arguing a point.

    A more definitive answer will be forthcoming in Volume 7 of The Quest for Right.

    A sentence which shows that this is a mere copy/paste of Parson’s crank site rather than an actual, heartfelt comment to this topic.

    Darwin spent a lifetime observing procreation but failed to realize the truth except in the simplest of matters.

    An assertion Parsons has failed miserably in demonstrating to be true. Darwin “spent a lifetime observing nature” would be a more accurate assessment. And, anyone that takes the time to read then compare and contrast his works with modern understandings of biology, chemistry, genetics, geology, zoology, ornithology, and so forth will realize that he recognized a greater truth than is obvious to the superstitious people who, even today, hold to Bronze Age ideas about the creation of the Earth. In some ways, I think we (the rational thinkers) are lucky that Christianity emerged as the dominant religious cult of the Western world. I shudder to think of what creationist arguments we might be discussing if the Egyptians flourished and their religious ideas spread like the virus of Christianity: would we have creationist myths that included how a god masturbated us into existence rather than taking the 6 days 10,000 years ago?

    any work by Darwin is unacceptable reading.

    “Unacceptable” only to the superstitious, the ignorant, and the under-educated since there is a distinct risk that they might actually gain some knowledge.

    Let the reader beware. — Volume 4 , The Quest for Right

    Beware, indeed. Especially if it follows the same ignorant, under-educated template of this excerpt.

  4. Text from Volume 1 of The Quest for Right:

    Off-topic and Deleted by Yenald Looshi

  5. Could you do me a favor and update the link to Atheist Revolution in your blogroll? The new URL is http://www.atheistrev.com

    Thanks!

  6. Will do! Good to see you have your own domain name!

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