The Farce Awakens: More Just-So Stories for the Darwin Crowd
Here are more examples of farcical Just-So Stories from evolutionary biologists and psychologists. Pick your winner!
Some reporters are still not learning to avoid Kipling-style headlines, because they should know by now that it opens them up to ridicule. Evolutionist Richard Lewontin spoke of “the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories” 18 years ago (yet he defended it because of his prior commitment to materialism). Others within the Darwin camp have also criticized the brethren over this propensity, yet the farce has not only awakened, it never sleeps.
How skates and rays got their wings (Science Daily): Members of the cartilaginous fish called rays (as in manta rays) use elegant flapping motions of their “wings” that employ ideal wave ratios for the most efficient propulsion (see ENV). Their fins are very different from those of other cartilaginous fish, like sharks. How did that evolve? Neil Shubin (author of Your Inner Fish) must have done a mind-meld with them to learn their story. Their ancient ancestor decided it wanted to move to the ocean floor, so (as the story unfolds), they “evolved from an ancient lineage of shark that dramatically altered its body plan to adapt to life on ocean or river bottoms.” Shubin’s buddy Nakamura tells how they engineered the changes needed to skate above the floor: “Skates appear to have redeployed a preexisting genetic module to the anterior of their fins, which enabled the evolution of their unique shape.” So they just had to tweak some genes, and Darwin took over.
How Valley Girls learned to talk incessantly: (Science Daily): A picture of a marmoset begins this post about about a story coming out of Princeton University: “Chitchat, small talk could serve an evolutionary need to bond with others.” And thus, “Idle conversation could be a social-bonding tool passed down from primates, suggests new research.” Curious listeners might be prompted to ask, Did the primates invent this tool by design? Did they leave it in their will?
How the beetle avoided evolution (Science Daily): This story begins, “About 100 million years ago, a tiny beetle flew into a coniferous tree and became engulfed in its resin.” We can hold the specimen in the hand today; that part is observational science. What this beetle did to avoid 100 million years of evolution is the tall tale, because by all appearances, “it has managed to remain so exquisitely intact after almost a million centuries of existence” and “We can see the mouth parts, which enable us to predict that this was a predator much like it’s modern relatives.” Seeing the beetle’s evolutionary path, though, requires training in divination. One has to hold the amber in the right light and look through it, as if gazing into a crystal ball. Then the image of Darwin appears.
How the mite became a world traveler (Science Magazine): Don’t be alarmed when you learn you have tiny mites on your face. Everyone has them. They live in your eyebrows and hair follicles. They’re harmless; they just like to munch on your skin flakes. The just-so story starts when scientists take samples from different countries and weave a story about how they evolved, migrating out of Africa with early humans who populated the globe as man evolved; as Science Daily says, “using genetic testing to link the microscopic animal’s evolution to our own ever-evolving human story.” Emphasis on story. In this case, the scientists recruited the mites in the storytelling game, revealing that storytelling itself can evolve.
“It’s shocking that we’re only just discovering how deeply our histories are shared with the mites on our bodies,” says Trautwein, who has traveled the world to sample mites and learn more about their cryptic lives. “They aren’t just bugs on our faces, they are storytellers. Mites tell us about our own ancient history–it’s a complex story, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.” [pun intended?]
How the salamander got in touch with its inner fish (Science Daily): Salamanders are already tetrapods. How could they say anything about the fish that managed to crawl out onto the land and sprout legs and arms? They can’t really, until employed by the Darwin Storytellers. Then they become talking salamanders, channeling their inner fish that recounts its Adventures in Tomorrowland—a land where fins sprouted fingers, gills became lungs, and all body systems became overhauled for life in the open air. As they talk, “Strolling salamanders provide clues on how animals evolved to move from water to land” to the eagerly listening evolutionary biologists.
How the birds survived the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs (Live Science): The day the asteroid hit, a bird ancestor had already enjoyed some 30 million years of life. It was working hard to lay some groundwork when a bright object appeared in the sky.
That feathery common ancestor laid the groundwork for its innumerable descendants. When an asteroid hit the Yucatan Peninsula about 66 million years ago, it killed off the nonavian dinosaurs. So-called modern birds in South America survived and rapidly diversified, the researchers [i.e., storytellers] said.
These modern South American birds then moved to other parts of the world via land bridges (even fliers need stopovers on land), diversifying during periods of global cooling, the researchers found.
The storyteller is likely to improve his ratings if he can throw in some climate change, and maybe some plate tectonics, too. But teacher, why did the birdie wait 116 million years till after the asteroid hit to cross the land bridge? Shush, an evolutionary biologist says in Science Magazine. “The team’s results are ‘reasonably convincing, and their new insights make sense.‘” That’s all you need to know.
How men got their beards: Christopher Oldstone-Moore is at a complete loss to Darwinize the beard. At The New Republic, he tosses around various stories that evolutionists have bandied about since the Bearded Buddha himself speculated about facial hair in The Descent of Man, when he even entertained Lamarckian processes. Evolutionary psychologists have gotten mixed results in surveys. Given this explanatory vacuum, why not try Jase Robertson‘s theory? “Men were created to have facial hair like women were created to be smooth-faced.” He’s echoing the stated opinion of the Duck Dynasty patriarch, Willie Robertson, who decided if that’s so, it’s wrong to scrape it off with a sharp object.
How the world learned to breathe (PhysOrg): Deprived of oxygen, early bacteria swam around gasping for breath. One day, one of them invented photosynthesis out of a cyan-colored spot that emerged somehow. Oxygen bubbled out. It was the gift that keeps on giving! Finally able to breathe, these “cyanobacteria” shared their secret and set their goals high.
This major oxygenation event, driven by billions of tiny organisms in the ocean, set the stage for a fundamental transformation of our planet – the evolution of complex life as we know it today.
So that, children, is where all your favorite stories began. It was only a matter of time before photosynthetic bacteria invented giraffes, elephants and people. We could even say that evolutionary storytelling itself traces its ancestry to that major event!
It’s fun to listen in on the evolutionary storytelling contests. They sure get away with some whoppers! The fun stops, however, when you realize that this is all that public school students are allowed to hear. At Evolution News & Views on the 10th anniversary of the Dover trial, Dr. Michael Egnor notes a sad fact that is not a just-so story:
What has happened in Dover in the ensuing decade? In schools, presenting alternatives to Darwinian evolution not approved by the federal court is not an option. Violation of the court order is a federal crime (U.S. Code Title 18, Part1, Chapter 21, section 401). Teachers and students, while in school, are well advised to remain silent on their non-Darwinian views.
The Darwin Storytelling Empire has struck back, growing an army of clones raised on a storytelling diet. Will lovers of academic freedom ever overcome the totalitarian regime of the dark side? Egnor whispers A New Hope:
Outside of Dover schoolrooms, meanwhile, scientific inquiry is thriving. The Dover decision didn’t stop the debate. It fanned the flame. Research programs on ID are robust, ID conferences are flourishing, ID books are being published, and the Darwinists are fending off a rising tide of critiques from within the scientific profession and from scholars in other fields who question the adequacy of Darwinism to account for life and even question the coherence of the theory of “natural selection.” State legislatures are proposing and passing academic freedom laws. Darwin Day is now Academic Freedom Day.
But the farce awakens. Join the resistance! Don’t let the phantom menace grow. We shall witness the return of the ID.