The first one to face the fire is a video nominated by Potholer54 for this years Golden Crockoduck awards. The video us called Darwin’s Intelligent Design, created by WhatYouOughtToKnow.
While I’m certain Peter Hadfield will do an excellent job shredding this nonsense apart, there is one aspect that really annoyed me.
In between mocking tones and general insults, the presenter illustrates just how poorly he understands evolution (obviously). Here, he suggests that as bacteria have such a fast generation rate, compared to our species and we have been observing bacteria for much of the enlightenment, we should have expected to have witnessed their evolution to a “higher form of life” including civilisation, the creation of bacteria -vehicles etc.
No evolutionary biologist expects species to evolve into civilised communities that resemble anything like ours. There is no reason to expect that life should ultimately develop civilisations. Such a trait isn’t “higher”.
But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that it is.
It was close to a four billion year trajectory that took simply bacteria to modern Homo sapien. That’s four billion years, which included a wide range of climatic changes, mass extinctions and biodiversity explosions. Even as little as 50 thousand years ago our ancestors where not, by definition, significantly different to other animals experimenting with stone and stick tools.
Almost everything that we pride ourselves as distinctly “human” was invented within the last 20 thousand years, exponentially more so the closer we get to today.
How can this bloke honestly, in good faith, think that a couple centuries of observation of bacteria would again lead a species of bacteria again along the same trajectory to civilisation as it did for our species? Of course he doesn’t, hence why he’s a nominee for Potholer54’s prestigious award (ie. from those who break the ninth commandment).
What bugs me more is simply the sheer human-centred arrogance of the man. Of course, he cannot be held too accountable for his warped world view. After all, he comes from a terribly poor education history, based around an insane idea that we were individually created in some special image of an invisible being more psychotic than the nightmarish stalker who both loves, yet yearns to punish at the slightest whim. In his world view, we are distinctly the end product; a moment of perfection; complete. He cannot help but see evolution as some bazaar process aimed at leading all species to hats, fast cars and the fondue dinner party.
That’s self-evidentially just not so. It was a major list of traits that only very recently appeared within our species that made us, well, us (see Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind by Mark Pagel, for instance). But his mockery of Dawkin’s shows what he thinks of those who realise where the overwhelming bulk of evidence is to be found. However, there is grandeur in this view (to borrow Charles Darwin’s often quoted line).
It is amazing that a species has develop not only such a self-awareness, but also the imagination, creativity and analytical principles able not only to ask a question, or even visualise abstract results, but to also define methodologies that compel greater confidence in our conclusions. It is easy to write off such things, but awareness in even it’s most basic form is incredible. Even life is amazingly unlikely!
The more one contemplates, the more you cannot help but be amazed by such things. Life is far more wonderful than any fairy story, regardless how much you’re told you’re loved in it.