Monday, September 17, 2007
A nice thing about evolution is that blogging about it inspires one reflect on the rather elegant coincidence of using a medium which uses constant updates of changes to my intellectual development, to write about constant changes to our species' genetic code. The religious can tune out about now if they wish, unless you're one of those who through tortuous logic can accommodate the theory to your holy book. Alas when confronted with people such as this I always refer them to the words of Pierre-Simone LaPlace, "Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là." He didn't need any god, and neither does evolution. It works just fine without it.
The New York Times' science section has an article about the gaps remaining in our knowledge of the exact chronology and circumstances of Homo Sapiens divergence from earlier forms. Indeed it looks as if we may have alongside pre-modern humans for some time. This accomplished by geographical isolation of different populations, which hastens evolutionary change, and thus speciation. What should strike one here is how unafraid the scientists are of admitting gaps in our understanding. I will never cease to be amazed at how people who claim to know the mind of the creator of the universe can so unselfconscious as to call scientists smug. The reality is that scientists don't need to be afraid of gaps in their understanding because for one, even if we knew nothing about human origins there is no way to justify using a holy text as some kind of default explanation, and two they are conducting a continuous, sober probe into the origins of species and not administering a metaphysical propaganda machine which can't afford any semblance of inadequacy.
Read the article. If for nothing else but a good update on the current state of our knowledge and the questions to be asked and answered going forward.