Friday, December 14, 2007

Fantasy Island: The dwindling refuges of creationism

I love that title. It belongs to William Saletan in a December 2005 op ed for Slate. He says in this piece:

Fundamentalists have lost the media, the colleges, and the science academies. The battleground has been reduced to public schools, and creationism has been reduced to intelligent design—a pathetic, agnostic, empty shell. Creationists can't teach a dogma, so they "teach the controversy." They accept more and more of Darwin's theory, narrowing the dispute to isolated systems—the eye, the flagellum, the blood-clotting system—that they say Darwinism can't explain. They just want science to stop short of denying God's possibility. A little bit of mystery, a parcel of unspoiled divine wilderness, is all they ask.

This 2005 story was linked from today's article, Cultural Selection: The evolution of evolution. I read the same article on a science website as he: Are humans evolving faster? Saletan quotes from the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences:

It concludes that human evolution has accelerated in the last 40,000 years and particularly in the last 10,000. One reason is that population growth has increased the temporal rate of mutations and selections. But in the case of humans, the authors note, "Rapid population growth has been coupled with vast changes in cultures and ecology … creating new opportunities for adaptation." Such "rapid cultural evolution" has "created vastly more opportunities for further genetic change, not fewer, as new avenues emerged for communication, social interactions, and creativity."

There is also a link to a fascinating study of the evolution of a Jewish sect, "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence." The study concludes that what had happened to Jews was, as the authors put it, "natural selection, stemming from their occupation of an unusual social niche."

Is it coincidental that this report and the biblical report center around the people of Israel? Fascinating science like this is being reported every day and it is hard to keep up with all of the new discoveries that scientists bring us.

Sadly, the ID folks huddle in their church basements and lament this science and wail and cry over these new discoveries. Which is fine with me, as long as they do it in the basement rather than out in the open, making fools of themselves.

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