I am fascinated with the theory of evolution, not just the process of evolution though, also I am fascinated by how we discover and learn new things about the history of the Earth and life. The act of this process is just as amazing as the product of the process as well.
I’d like to talk about a wonderful example of this process, and how it evolves and changes itself. The following story is an example I heard in David Attenborough’s “First life” series. It is the story about a school girl called Tina Negus who finds a fossil of the species Charnia. Which was unknown at the time, this was in 1957 by the way. The area she found it in was an area known for it’s ancient rocks, some of the oldest in the world. And at this time we had built a picture of the history of life with other fossils from all over the world. The school girl took the fossil to her school teacher, who said that given the known age of this rock, there is no way there can be a fossil in there, since it completely goes against our understanding of the history of life. Life wasn’t thought to have been present beyond 500 million yeas ago. So at first the fossil was dismissed, yet it went against what we knew so it was of course extremely important. And that importance was luckily noticed by some intelligent people.
We now know that this fossil is of one of the first multicellular organisms, a fern like animal, that does look like a plant, but it doesn’t photosynthesise, it respires, which is one of the distinguishing factors between plants and animals. That’s a charnia fossil—->
So there is an example of evidence changing our understanding, evidence of the process of understanding evolving. We had formulated a picture of the evolution of life, and evidence proved us wrong beyond shadow of a doubt. This occurrence isn’t alone either. In fact this is evidence of what is called The Scientific Method, which is really what science is, a method. It’s not just a collection of knowledge, it’s a method of collecting knowledge.
So our understanding of evolution went on and on, the unbelievable became the unavoidable. Finding a fossil is better evidence than having a video of an event, since a fossil can be looked at in more ways than a video. And we have so SO many fossils from all over the world, plants and animals frozen in time via a multitude of different events. (There are some amazing fossils mentioned in First Life that were formed by soft silty mud slides underwater, gently covering up Trilobites, the detail recorded by this specific process is amazing as you can see)
And fossil hunting and history rewriting goes on like this, there is even a whole book all about the fossils that are the most important ones, its called “Fossil Revolution: The Finds That Changed Our View of the Past“. (if you look at the comments to that book on Amazon you can see what exactly drove me to write this here article…..creationists…….brrrrrrrr and now on to them!).
All the fossils didn’t just challenge the scientists views on things, it challenged certain aspects of the bible, and certain people who read the bible, in a certain very literal way. Yet unlike the scientists, who when presented with scientific data, and understood it, and happily accepted they were wrong (hopefully) the religiously tainted, who being brought up and taught that the bible is the word of God, and it can not be wrong, these people said the fossils must be wrong! At first, saying that the fossils are fake, as some were! Take the case of a fossil that confused the scientific world for some time, since some inventive young sir claimed the pigs teeth he found were human teeth! This and a few other examples are constantly given by creationists as reasons not to trust any of the fossils, none of them! Throw them all away, just stupid funny shaped stones, silly things.
Then some of these people even took to dabbling with the scientific method themselves, in a way anyway. They had a goal, to dispute the current knowledge of things, which is a very admirable goal indeed. However they had a caveat to their goal, they could only dispute the current knowledge if it backed up their own knowledge of things. And they would never shift on that, so they want to make other people change their minds, but they will NEVER change their own, this is not fair, its not equal, not democratic, didn’t Jesus say something about treat people as you want to be treated? So if they want to challenge peoples knowledge they should be open to theirs being challenged.
Something interesting did happen to the creationists world though, under the weight of scientific evidence and our understanding of this evidence all mixed with our improvements in technology led to the birth of a new theory, some people just couldn’t keep the blinkers on any-more, constantly bashing their shins on walls and looking like twats they modified their theory and made a new one, which is called Intelligent design. It basically accepts evolution, but also says that this process of improvements and adaptation by random mutations is often helped along by God. When life needs a boost now and then he’s there, a leg here, an eye there. Many Intelligent Design proponents claim the eye is too complicated to have evolved so God gave us these at some point in one mighty mutation, one super deforming moment eyes were bestowed on some blind little worm thing (you’d expect some convoluted story about light bending orbs being bestowed on a poor lowly worm or some other such parable in the bible). There is also the case of the biological motor and the flagellum. Some microscopic animals have a kind of motor that drives a flagellum, basically a tail, and this propels them through the liquid they live in. The tail spins around and of course to do this is must have moving parts like a real motor, and it does! It’s quite difficult to understand how this thing can have just evolved. If you take away any one part it doesn’t work, and there’s no way it would have evolved to be a complicated lump thing that didn’t do anything and then one day another bit evolved and the whole thing sprang into life. So it was seen as the work of God. However this motor has now fallen under the laser focus of the collected scientific world. And there are explanations as to how it evolved, and these explanation just got called excuses, excuses to not believe in God. The motor is complicated, like so much in life, and to understand it you need to understand a lot of other things, it involves deep understanding of chemistry, biology and physics (or it’s all just physics I’m sure physicists will say), all of which the proponents of the intelligent design theory don’t really have a passion for, their passion is for God, so it’s not hard to see why they don’t understand how the motor could have evolved. So if you search for “Flagellum motor” it will tell “you did you mean Flagellar motor” and then you will get a wiff of this heated debate (The egoic mind defending itself, but that’s another story).
I think it would be nice to talk a little now on some of the other amazing things we have discovered from our past. Our understanding of the evolution of hominids, us, is of course of big interested to us. At one point in our own history, that is in the history of homo-sapien, (who have been around for about 100 thousand years only) we co-existed with another hominid species, even having sex with them now and then! The other hominids were called Neanderthals, they weren’t human, but they did have similar ancestors to us. They wore clothes, and there is evidence of jewellery that they made, they buried their dead and we are pretty sure that they talked. One area of evolution denial focuses on these ape men, saying that if we did evolve from monkeys, where are the half men half monkeys, well as you can see from the above diagram, there are 14 species not including us, of course we are missing a lot, but there’s some. Here’s a site that has a lot to say about what they call the ape-men frauds, they say:-
“At one time it was thought that we came from the Neanderthal. Neanderthals were discovered from 1848 to 1856 and for years they were considered to be ape-men. But now we know, there’s no argument here, that they’re just plain ordinary people.”
This is quite surprising since it seems to suggest that the people that wrote this site are Neanderthals, and we thought they had all became extinct! They are showing amazing intelligence as well, setting up their own website, we previously thought that we were much smarter than them. (I’m going to email the people from this site asking if it’s cool I link to them here, I’ll let you know how that goes)
It is thought that we waged war with the Neanderthals, since us and them are both known to have crafted weapons, but we made better ones, I think there is some evidence which claims that we simply learned how to throw our stones, they just couldn’t figure that out (they figured out HTML up there!), so we stove all their heads in.
I could go on all day with examples of this crazy debate, but the more you look at the debate the more you see how idiotic it is. Absolute feckless idiots taking one step forward and then two steps back. Defending ideas they learnt in their formative years, ideas that were taught to them by people they respect, so to think these ideas are wrong really messes with their heads. Ideas and people intricately linked, so much so that ideas are actually being bigger and more controlling than the people themselves. And this is why it is interesting for me and why it bothers me. We should all be striving to dispel ignorance, ignorance is at the root of all problems. And if I see examples of people defending their ignorance it causes me to raise and eyebrow rather high.
I think that’s it for now on this subject, I will try and keep up writing about evolution, and specific examples which I find fascinating, like that spanner in the works Charnia