The story of Charles Darwin is an amazing one. Here is a man who was endlessly fascinated with the world around him. He went from medical student to training for the ministry to the preeminent scientist of his, or any other, age.
What is lost among all of the retellings of this story is the pure adventure of his life. Charles Darwin spent five years literally traveling around the world on the HMS Beagle. He went to places that were, at the time, virtually untouched by humans, and many never seen by Europeans before. He experienced long ocean voyages (for someone who suffered from sea sickness, not a fun time), earthquakes, storms, wild animals, and primitive (to him) peoples. Upon his return to England, he went from an obscure naturalist to a well respected one and, after the publication of “On The Origin of Species“, to the most famous scientist in the world.
It is quite the adventure. It is one that I’m working on bringing to life in a project I’m currently working on. No release date yet, but I’ll keep you updated.
More great dinosaur artwork!
I just bought Why Evolution is True”, by Jerry Coyne, and Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea ,by Carl Zimmer. I’m also currently reading Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and In Search of the Multiverse: Parallel Worlds, Hidden Dimensions, and the Ultimate Quest for the Frontiers of Reality,by John Gribbin. In case you haven’t noticed, I love science.
Just to balance it out, I am also working on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick and I’m getting ready to re-read “Sarum”, by Edrward Rutherfurd.
And now, here are some ornithopods drawn by hyrotrioskjan.
There is a well known example that supporters of science use when refuting the idea of a perfect creator. The example is the laryngeal nerve. This nerve supplies motor function and sensation to the larynx. What is unusual about it is that, even though the larynx is located in the throat in most invertebrates, it follows a path down from the throat, into the chest, and back up to the brain, rather than the shorter and more obvious route of going straight from the throat and up to the brain.
In referring to Richard Dawkins use of the laryngeal nerve argument, Wikipedia states:
“The extreme detour of this nerve (over fifteen feet in giraffes) is cited as evidence of evolution as opposed to intelligent design. The nerve’s route would have been direct in the fish-like ancestors of modern tetrapods, traveling from the brain, past the heart, to the gills (as it does in modern fish). Over the course of evolution, as the neck extended and the heart became lower in the body, the laryngeal nerve was caught on the wrong side of the heart. Natural selection gradually lengthened the nerve by tiny increments to accommodate, resulting in the absurdly circuitous route now observed, which, if designed, could only be described as unintelligent.”
I’ve heard this argument against intelligent design given many times and in different ways, some more effective than others, but as is often the case, humor and satire can serve to drive the point home much better than any physical evidence or well articulated argument can.
Jonathan Rosenberg draws the funny, topical, and skeptical Scenes From A Multiverse. Today’s installment address this particular augment with great hilarity and precision. It is a perfect surgical strike against the idea of a perfect creator, and leaves us with the conclusion that god either does not exist or, if he does, is just plain stupid. The next to the last panel says it all.
Here are a couple of examples of some lovely evolution and Darwin related art work. I just felt the need to share.
From PZ Myers comes the story of a science teacher who wasn’t afraid to stand up for science and critical thinking. The best part is that a judge in a lawsuit against the teacher by a Christian student defended the right, and the necessity, of promoting critical thinking and questioning dogma. It is good to see the fundgelicals called on the mat for their attempts to insert their archaic, tribal beliefs into our educational system. Yea for science and critical thinking!
My last post, Hitler – The Last Refuge of a Theist, seems to have hit a nerve among skeptics and atheists. I’ve seem some excellent comments regarding the truth about Hitler and his supposed support of Darwin and evolution. Among them is the following outstanding comment from fribnit.
“The single “scholarly” work of which I am aware that promotes a Darwin-Hitler connection is a piece of propaganda funded by an “Intelligent Design” promoting group called Discovery. The book, called From Darwin to Hitler by an “Historian” named Richard Weikart, is widely discredited as nothing more than propaganda.
As stated above, the Nazi’s burned Origin of the Species. Evolution was among the areas of scientific study derided by Hitler as “Jew Science”. Interesting in that Darwin was not Jewish.
It offends me deeply when someone uses the Hitler card in such a patently false manner, intended to discredit with guilt by association.
As Jay points out, Hitler self identified as a Christian. He felt that “The Almighty” guided and approved of his actions. Certainly the Christian-Hitler connection is much stronger than any supposed Darwin-Hitler connection.
I do not blame “Christianity” for the actions of Hitler and the Nazi scum, nor do I blame “Christianity” for the atrocities of the KKK, who also consider themselves “God Fearing Christians”. I don’t even blame “Christianity” for the Spanish Inquisition (Hundreds of years before Darwin) or the Crusades. I hold as responsible the people that conceived and committed these atrocities.
Long before Darwin, The Greeks and Romans and many others, considered themselves separate races from, and superior to, other people on the planet. Long before Darwin people of a variety of races considered other races to be less than human and tried to eliminate or enslave them. Human history is littered with attempts at genocide.
Believing in Intelligent Design or Creationism in the face of all the SCIENTIFIC evidence to the contrary is a remarkable exercise in willful blindness.
Trying to discredit Evolution by claiming it inspired one of the greatest atrocities in the history of man is vile and despicable and a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible: “Intelligent Design”.”:
There are several very good points made here. Hitler did self-identify as a Christian and did, if we can believe his written and spoken words, that the “Almighty” was guiding him and supporting him.
The Nazis did burn copies of On Origin of Species and considered evolution a “Jewish” science. Burning copies of a book that describes a theory you supposedly support is incomprehensible.
Eugenics is not based on Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, but rather artificial selection, or breeding. Just as humans have bred animals for thousands of years, Hitler and his cohorts believed that they could breed better humans and even set up communities where Aryan men and women were paired, married and had children. A major goal of the Holocaust was not just to kill the Jews and other “undesirables”, but to remove them completely from the human gene pool by both exterminating those who existed and breeding the various percentages out of these genes out of the remaining population.
This type of evolutionary selection is anything but natural, which is what Darwin’s theory is all about. Those who wish to use the Nazi example of eugenics against evolution show a gross lack of understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and of history.
To compare Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection to Hitler and the Holocaust is intellectually dishonest and reprehensible. It is a desperate ploy by people who can find no reasonable and cogent arguments to support their religious beliefs. It shows the narrowness of their world view and the smallness of the intellect.