Archive for evolution

On Design Faults

Posted in Evolution, Social Concern with tags , , , , on August 17, 2010 by davidnm2009

Evolution is becoming a contentious and increasingly-political topic, and it’s becoming one of the places where the world of science intersects with the world of politics. Unfortunately, the cultures of the two worlds are very different, and the intersection can be rather ugly. Science is the realm of facts and politics arguably that of opinion. You see this very clearly in the ‘evidence’ (such as it is) that gets presented in debates on the topic of evolution. All too frequently, these get hung up on the issue of fossils.

Now, fossils are fascinating things, and I don’t suggest otherwise. They have a lot to add to our knowledge and they give us a unique window into the lost world of millions of years past. However, they are not the be-all and end-all of evidence for evolution. Another important source of the evidence is anatomy, both human and not. There are some aspects of physiology that just don’t make any sense outside of an evolutionary context.

Consider, for instance, the coccyx and the fovea.

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Evolution – The Evidence

Posted in Evolution, Personal, Social Concern with tags , , , on August 17, 2010 by davidnm2009

Regular readers might remember my little panic a few weeks ago, regarding the Creationist ‘museum’ that’s recently won a UK government award. Well, I’ve been thinking about this and it does pose the immortal question, What is to be done? And I have an answer.

I’ve decided to write a short series of articles on the subject of evolution.

We scientists are always blithering about ‘the evidence’ and how it supports our position. And that is certainly true – it generally does, if only because when you’re writing a paper, your co-authors can be counted on to eat you alive if it doesn’t! (Seriously. I am the voice of experience here…) But, possibly, we’re not always so good at putting that evidence out there. But there is a lot of it, and possibly if people were more aware of it, they’d be harder prey for Creationists and other such peddlers of clap-trap.

So, I’m going to write about the evidence for evolution. I will do this over the next few days, in a short string of articles. Probably no more than three, I think, and I’ll be limiting myself to less than a thousand words each – so short and to the point, basically.

Now, before I go any further, I need to make an important disclaimer. I’m an astronomer, not a biologist. I am not a specialist in this field and have no privileged insight here. But, in a way, this is my point – if even a non-specialist like me can be convinced by the evidence, then that shows that a lot of it must be good!

Now, I’m under no illusions about how many people will see these, and I’m under no illusions about my writings having much influence on the public debate (such as it is). However, I feel that it’s important to do this and I also feel that one has to be careful about arguments from futility – maybe not many people will see this, but that’s better than none, right? The first post, due later today, will be ‘On Design Faults’, where I’ll be considering two things in particular – the fovea and the coccyx.

So, time to roll the die and see where it lands…