Sunday, August 28, 2005

Daniel Dennett on Evolution


Brilliant as the design of the eye is, it betrays its origin with a tell-tale flaw: the retina is inside out. The nerve fibers that carry the signals from the eye's rods and cones (which sense light and color) lie on top of them, and have to plunge through a large hole in the retina to get to the brain, creating the blind spot. No intelligent designer would put such a clumsy arrangement in a camcorder ...

Instead, the proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist's work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a "controversy" to teach.

Do check out (before it goes behind the paywall) this great NYTimes op-ed by the American philosopher Daniel Dennett. Titled "Show me the science", the op-ed trashes ID in so many different ways, it just amazes you.

I wouldn't be recommending it if it did just that one thing (though trashing ID is a GOOD thing). You get a lot more than that: you get wonderful explanations of how evolution works (without the help of any designer), and how science works, and how science makes progress.

It's a great read, so go grab it now.

More about Daniel Dennett:


  1. Anonymous said...

    Great link. Thanks. One line stood out :

    "Evolutionary biologists are often startled by the power of natural selection to "discover" an "ingenious" solution to a design problem posed in the lab."

    I can attest to that, having done some research in genetic algorithms. It is just amazing how the algorithm produces results supposedly out of thin air. But maybe it wasn't the algorithm. Maybe there was an intelligent result creator eh?