Darwin's March

by Steve Mason

We make some of our greatest gains
When we see old things in new ways

There are few things in the world as clear as the progression of life through the process of evolution. From simple snips of organic matter to plants and animals more complex than computers, the steps from here to there are surprisingly clear - amazingly well defined. Of course, there are still many questions that remain to be answered. Do, for example, little changes build up gradually until a particular combination clicks? Or is it more a matter of rapid development in the face of a newly opened niche? Or is it both - along with a few factors not yet discovered? Whatever the case, the overall concept is there for all to see. And yet many insist on not seeing. Why is that?

In some public schools, Darwin's march from primordial slime to Homo Sapien must share equal time with something called Creation Science. Mostly, this is a system of explaining by inventing and couldn't be further from the understanding, predicting and controlling of a true science. But it sounds good to those who don't know better and most people don't. Learning a hard science like mathematics or chemistry or physics is - well, hard. The vast majority of humans are simply incapable of doing so. And yet this obvious fact is sure to be hooted and hollered down. We're all capable of learning whatever we put our minds to learning - Right? Wrong!

Think of it in terms of kicking a field goal from fifty yards, or scoring ten out of ten free throws. Joe six pack knows - even after a twelve pack - that he'd do best not to even try. The fact that different bodies come in different sizes and shapes is obvious. There are guys who can play with the Green Bay Packers and there are guys who can yell at them from the stands. Believe it or not, different brains come with different talents and potentials too. But where the marshmallow with legs can idolize the refrigerator going for a touchdown, the evidence for a brilliant mind is not nearly so obvious. In fact, it's all but invisible to anyone not similarly gifted. Hence, sports fans go around saying things like "Yea but that's just your opinion" to rocket scientists.

The absurdity of this statement is lost on the average bystander who is, in turn, fond of going around saying "Everyone is entitled to his/her opinions", and "Everyone is entitled to his/her beliefs." In point of fact, not all opinions/beliefs are equal, and not everyone is so entitled. Were this the case, we could do away with both penal and mental institutions for starters.

But just as it's necessary to lock a few people away, it's also wise to occasionally blow a few away. Human minds, like human bodies, rarely come even close to being perfect as Mother Nature remains bent on tweaking and tinkering despite her failure-to-success ratio of many tens of thousands to one. The Fantasy Prone Personality who imagines an alien abduction, the Addictive Personality who figures if two are good twenty-two must be better, the Authoritarian Personality who believes Pat Robertson really does have a pipeline to the top are all examples of Mother Nature's ham fisted efforts gone awry. There are a few people genetically geared to stand still and reason, but most are born ready to run in and DO SOMETHING - ANYTHING BY GOD!

Hence we have massive government programs that do more harm than good, grass-roots organizations with meaningless slogans for meaningless causes, professional propagandists who rally the masses to false flags, and all manner of "concerned citizens" who would be kinda funny if they weren't so dreadfully loud.

Perhaps the most misunderstood step in Darwin's long march is the part that involves Survival of the Fittest. This is commonly taken to mean that species just keep getting better and better. The weak ones fall away while the strong ones keep going - ever onward and ever upward. What it really means is that those best able to exploit a particular time and place usually wind up doing just that. This says nothing about being smarter or cuter or in any way superior. Cockroaches and TV sitcoms just keep going and going - not because they're so good, but because they're so bad as to have found a niche in the toilet. So too, Creation Science has found a niche. Those who thank god for blowing away the neighbor's trailer but sparing theirs; those who want to save the souls of fetal cells; those who just know they can't be related to a chimpanzee despite that pesky 99% gene match; those who lobby against atheists in the Boy Scouts and vote for presidents who swear on the Bible (seeing no conflict of church and state) are its adherents. In what can only be considered a joke of cosmic proportions, they themselves are perhaps the best single proof for Darwin's march, and the fact that it is neither ever onward nor ever upward.

Look At It This Way

Recently, while at a dinner party, the hostess asked about the smartest thing her guests had ever said. When my turn came I replied, "I don't know." She asked if I couldn't remember, and I said that I could remember - and that was it. You see, when considering the really big questions, it would be the height of folly to believe that one had the really big answers. Whereof nothing can be said - Thereof say nothing.

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