Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Reading Steven den Beste's post on evolution and diets, I couldn't help being reminded of some of the things I read in the book Ancient Traces by Michael Baigent. Now, let me start by saying that Baigent appears to be awfully gullible, and not always especially knowledgeable about the things he's talking about (he has several books on Christianity that appear to be worthless, and several of the topics in Ancient Traces are iffy). He also is certainly no Creationist, as evidenced several times in the book. Personally, I am a Creationist. I've reached this conclusion by looking at the world around me, especially the human body, and deciding that the only reasonable explanations are either utterly random chance (some reality must occur since I can perceive it, so it might as well be this one), or intelligent design. Science and the Bible actually jibe pretty well, even when the concepts are far beyond those that should've been known at the time it was written. Anyway, full disclosure and all that. Now, in regards to evolution, Baigent does bring up some good points that probably deserve an answer. His conclusion is that humans are descended from apes that, rather than taking to the savannah, lived in rivers. Here are his major points:
1. Humans are the only terrestrial mammals with a descended larynx. This means we can form the complex sounds necessary for a spoken language, but also that we're the only terrestrial mammals that can choke on our food (look at dogs eat, you'll see what I mean). The only other mammals that have this ability are aquatic.
2. Humans are the only terrestrial mammals with a certain layer of fat. Again, only aquatic mammals have this.
3. We don't have an awful lot of hair. Neither do whales or seals. Monkeys do. If we were on the open savannah, we'd get sunburned in no time at all. It's interesting one of the few places we do have hair is on top of our head, which would be sticking above the water in Baigent's theory.
4. The savannah is a very bad place to evolve. There are an awful lot of very fast predators, and apes aren't usually the fastest animals. According to evolution, we wouldn't have been able to stand on our back feet for very long. Furthermore, as we developed, we'd actually be hampered by being bipedal, since it's a lot slower that going with four limbs.
5. Humans have sex facing each other (normally). Go flip on the Discovery Channel and count the number of terrestrial mammals that do this.

I'd also like to point out the eye. Could something as complex as the mammalian eye develop out of primitive nerves? Eh, maybe. It would be tough, but let's assume that it's reasonable in the time in which it's theorized to have happened. This isn't enough, though. You also need holes in the skin to see through. Where did these come from? Did the eye develop, and then suddenly a genetic mutation occurred that caused slits to miraculously appear? Is it even reasonable to think that this kind of genetic mutation could happen? Slits appearing before a functional eye would be a detriment rather than an advantage. Perhaps some complex gene-linkage that caused facial slits, working (if primitive) eyes, and perhaps the removal of the gene to allow blue or green hair in humans? That sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking. When confronted with something as complex as the human body, replete with examples of systems that would have to have had periods of worthlessness before becoming useful.

Before you start to point to the appendix and tonsils as proof of Darwinism, let me say that I don't disagree with the idea of microevolution. My understanding is that the appendix was useful in eating a lot of green plants, sort of like a rumen. As we began to grow things like wheat, this became less important and eventually may have been more of a hassle than an aid (I'm sure there are also explanations in the Bible that might match up with this, but that's off-topic right now). Humans are apparently taller, live longer, and have often have worse vision than 2000 years ago. However, we're still humans. Go look at people who grew up vegetarian and you'll notice that they tend to be shorter than we animal-killas. People who live subsistence lifestyles usually don't live as long as Americans or Japanese. In modern hunter-gatherer societies where vision isn't easily corrected, those with poor vision are often de-selected when it's time to get funky. These could all be changed with little trouble. What Darwin apparently saw as something of a staircase, with species graduating to the next level upon varying enough, I think it's more of an oscillation that corrects itself as time goes on. For all the breeds of dogs that we have, I'll bet that if you worked exclusively with chihuahuas, you could breed yourself something remarkably similar or even identical to a wolf before too long. It's late, and I'm rambling, but I think Darwinists have a lot of explaining to do before we begin to accept any of their theory as reliable.

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