Saturday, September 25, 2010
Bill Maher throws another one out of the plane:
Okay, my natural reaction is "cringe". Not just because someone might get into the Senate who has a really bizarre idea about evolution being a "myth." Actually, a part of my "cringe" reaction has to do with people who even sort of do buy into evolution not really understanding what it's about. I'm reposting my reaction to seeing this vid at DU because I'm fundamentally lazy and I think I got in most of my problems with the whole thing:
The endpoint of evolution for primates is not "human". Humans are, just like any other life form in existence right now, one pretty successful DNA spin-off. But even if we were to identify evidence of "microevolution" amongst our fellow primates, there's no saying that it would be toward a more human-like phenotype, if that wasn't beneficial to that species in their given habitat. Whale evolves from an earlier species that was more adapted to land. The motto of evolution isn't "goal-directed". It's more like "Shit happens."
The best retort I can think of to the "Well, if people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?" would be something along the lines of: "If you are your grandmother's grandkid--why would you have cousins?" It's about the same, not that we exactly evolved from apes, per se, or that they are as near to us as "cousins". Although modern DNA testing can give a good idea of just how related we actually are.
"It takes a long time"--the retort to what she said in the above clip, is generally true for evolution. It normally takes a long time before we can observe that a given population is significantly changed from some other, apparently static iteration of that gene pool. But we can observe microevolution for some species occurring over mere decades. However, the predictive model of evolution of modern apes doesn't necessarily have to be humaniform, at all. First of all, it presupposes that the environment is uniquely favorable, currently, to species similar to humans, and it also implies that as an adaptation, humans are "all that". Neither of which may be true, regardless of the relative success and ubiquity of humans on this planet.
(Just a small grouse of mine; I'm fairly pro-science and like to see it factually represented. As to the larger question of accepting evolution as the correct, scientifically-verified model describing the diversity of life on this planet being a pre-requisite for office--yes. Unlike religious litmus tests, which have to do with opinions about stuff you can't easily quantify or test, actual data exists for the theory of evolution. It is tested. And calling it a "myth" or alleging that as much evidence exists for creation is, frankly, nonsense.)