Today, dear reader, we bring you a letter-to-the-editor titled Random chance doesn’t explain man’s greatness, which appears in the Daily Star of Oneonta, New York (population of 13,901, nicknamed “City of the Hills”). We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and as we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Here we go, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:
The other night as my wife fell asleep watching the seventh rerun of her favorite “Law and Order: SVU,” I took the opportunity to channel-surf to the History, Military and Discovery channels. Lo and behold, here was a documentary on animal survival.
In this delightfully casual way, today’s letter-writer was inspired to think the great thoughts he now shares with us. Here’s more:
The zebras were particularly interesting! There are many theories about their stripes. … [B]ut one must ask the question, “How did this come to be?“
We are watching a great mind at work. Then he describes (albeit in a simplified manner) the way we’re taught that such things happen:
Are we to believe that the member of the horse family that was to become the zebra underwent numerous mutations before it arrived at the black-and-white stripes that enhanced his likelihood of survival so much that it became the dominant pattern in the zebra population? I wonder how many mutations and eons that took. Did anyone notice this happening?
The letter-writer then mentions some special features of the flounder and the chameleon. After that he gives a surprisingly coherent description of the process of mutation and survival of successful features, ultimately leading to speciation. But he’s not satisfied. Let’s read on:
Science calls it evolution. That sounds good and makes sense, but there are problems with that theory. Why have some life forms remained essentially unchanged for millions of years? Are they perfectly evolved? Why have some disappeared? Couldn’t they evolve?
Ah — there are two things to notice here. The letter-writer mentions the fact of extinction, which some might regard as a sloppy failure of creation. He ignores that. Then he raises the objection that comes from the creationists’ imaginary “irresistible force of evolution” which leads to “Why are there still monkeys?” Indeed, if applied consistently this fallacious idea leads to “Why are there still bacteria?” But our letter-writer doesn’t follow up on that either. Instead his focus is on the uniqueness of man. But first he brushes aside the concept of intelligent design (ID), because he can see how phony it is:
Others believe in “intelligent design.” I don’t like the term “intelligent design.” It seems like a politically correct term for God, without the danger of offending someone by mentioning that three-letter word.
That’s part of it, certainly. The rest is that the ID label is supposed to fool all the judges so they won’t notice that it’s a religious concept. Today’s letter-writer isn’t fooled, and he correctly casts ID aside. For him it’s either evolution or creationism. We continue:
Is it evolution or God’s creation? Let’s take for example the biggest problem with the evolution theory: human beings. Proponents of evolution believe we evolved from apes and after all, there is a family resemblance.
Indeed there is. That’s precisely why human evolution isn’t much of a problem to accept. As we’ve said before, if we were descended from interstellar castaways who had forgotten their origin, and we found ourselves on a world with utterly alien life, our existence would be an enormous problem to explain; but that’s not the case with our presence on Earth. Here’s more:
Why is it that the rest of the animal kingdom is pretty much on the same level of intelligence, and then you have man? No other species has ever dominated the world so quickly or so completely. Has any other species even harnessed fire, let alone electricity, nuclear power, or space travel? Of course not!
Wow — this is powerful stuff! Moving along:
What other species has developed hundreds of complex languages, built cities, organized governments or transplanted organs? None! Why have we put men on the moon and dogs are still chasing their tails?
Yes, there’s no doubt about it — humans do things that other animals don’t. After giving us some more stunning facts about our greatness (while conveniently ignoring our manifest defects), here’s how the letter-writer finishes:
Why are we head and shoulders above the rest? Why have we done what no other species has ever done? Is all this just evolution and happened by chance, or is this God’s creation? I don’t believe in chance. I believe in God’s creation.
There’s not much to argue with here — except perhaps the reasoning and the conclusion. But maybe that’s because the letter-writer has thought more deeply than you, dear reader.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.