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Sunday, May 04, 2008

If Darwinian explanations were tried in the present day ...

At some point, I am going to be writing a post at Design of Life blog on the origin of sexual reproduction. Something that I - as a layperson - have noticed about Darwinian theory is the way in which mechanisms and benefits are carelessly intermingled when explanations are offered. The result is a thesis that looks to the lay public much sounder than it actually is.

When I ask "how did sexual reproduction evolve", a Darwinist often explains why it is supposed to be a benefit. What I wanted to know was HOW did it evolve, not why it is a benefit.

Perhaps he assumes that the how will someday be explained by Darwinism, so all we need now is a plausible explanation for the why. Sloppy thinking, that.

I wonder what would happen if someone tried that approach with a news story in the present day, instead of the remote past? It might go something like this:
Me: You say you got a dog who is a veterinarian? A DVM? So how did that dog get through vet school?

He: He really, really wanted to be a vet, to help other dogs.

Me: No, but ...

He: Darwin's theory can account for altruism too, you know. That was a major recent finding, further cementing the neo-Darwinian synthesis ... it's all about selfish genes, see ...

Me: But that's not what I'm concerned about just now. I want to know HOW that dog mastered the brutal courses in ...

He: Well, you journalists SHOULD be concerned about altruism! The evolutionary future of all species ... blah, blah, blah ... the evils of species-ism ... St. Jane of the Apes ...

Me: Can I ask you one simple question? What, exactly, is that dog's IQ quot -

He: That's just the sort of question only a creationist would ask! And I don't argue with creationists. A waste of time. This interview is now over.

Me: (Later, to self, on the bus ... ) In my granddad's day, it was horses on the payroll. Now it's dogs on the veterinary register. With one difference: How do you break the scandal to the public in THIS atmosphere? I run a risk even questioning the dog's credentials. ...

Phooey. I think I'll go cover that flock of flying pigs while I'm at it.

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