Upon reading the recent letter from Mr. Colin Atkins, (Sept. 5) I felt once again compelled to speak out on the part of rational people everywhere. His letter, which appears under the bold headline “No evidence of evolution,” screams out for a response.
Two possibilities came quickly to mind. One was to fill a dump truck with books by prominent scientists detailing the ample evidence for evolution science and dump it in front of Mr. Atkins’ house. The other was to write this letter. I chose the latter in part because it was less labourious (and much less expensive, of course).
As even a synopsis of the evidence from various scientific fields would take up too much space, I will content myself with addressing Mr. Atkins’ main arguments individually.
• “… only God can make life …” — The problem in evoking the existence of some kind of omnipotent super being is the question of who, or what, created the omnipotent super being.
• Mr. Atkins refers to both evolution and “supernatural creation by God” as “theories,” but he is doubly wrong. Evolution is an established fact, supported by evidence, while “supernatural creation” is unsupported by evidence and therefore not worthy of being called a theory.
• “Blind chance” — Like many creationists, Mr. Atkins likes to use phrases like “blind chance.” Yes, there are elements of chance in evolution, but he ignores the cumulative effects of change over very large time scales. How can a species that lives a century or so at the most fully comprehend thousands or millions of centuries?
• “One thing that evolution can’t do is create the non-living atoms that make up the universe.” No scientist has ever suggested this. We’re mixing biology with physics here.
• Mr. Atkins suggests that the existence of colour constitutes an argument against evolution. “Surely colour is not necessary for evolution to work.” Wrong. Flowers, for instance, which date back to the cretaceous period, long before there were humans around to appreciate them, were presumably colourful enough to attract pollinating insects so that the plants could reproduce. Reproduction is essential for evolution to take place. Consider also that colour is an illusion created by the responses of the visual centres of brains (human and otherwise) to stimuli from optic nerves, which are in turn a response to certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. We find them attractive because of inherent or learned associations with such things as food and sex.
• Mr. Atkins goes on to suggest that hair and eyebrows are “not needed” and therefore an argument against evolution. In his classic book, “The Naked Ape,” Desmond Morris suggests that the purpose of eyebrows is to divert sweat away from the eyes. This is to say nothing of sexual selection, a form of natural selection that brought about such things as the peacock’s burdensome tail, with which he attracts females. One could say the same of human hair, (including eyebrows). Most females of our species find hair attractive (though not perhaps to the extent suggested by the Axe TV commercials).
• “Zebras and tigers don’t need stripes.” — Perhaps Mr. Atkins doesn’t believe in camouflage either.
• Mr. Atkins refers more than once to beauty in nature. I agree that there is much beauty in nature, but this is a subjective term, not a scientific one. It is this anthropocentric tendency to cast human values and motivations upon the natural world around us that hints at the origins of that fascinating psychological phenomenon that both unites and separates us — religion itself.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 14, 2012