Convergent evolution Natural selection News

It’s Sunday morning so I get to talk about the praying mantis, right?

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And what good it is to look like five percent of an orchid.

From David Berlinski’s “The Deniable Darwin”:

Evolutionary thought is suffused in general with an unwholesome glow. “The belief that an organ so perfect as the eye,” Darwin wrote, “could have been formed by natural selection is enough to stagger anyone.” It is. The problem is obvious. “What good,” Stephen Jay Gould asked dramatically, “is 5 percent of an eye?” He termed this question “excellent.”

The question, retorted the Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, the most prominent representative of ultra-Darwinians, “is not excellent at all”:

“Vision that is 5 percent as good as yours or mine is very much worth having in comparison with no vision at all. And 6 percent is better than 5, 7 percent better than 6, and so on up the gradual, continuous series.”

But Dawkins, replied Phillip Johnson in turn, had carelessly assumed that 5 percent of an eye would see 5 percent as well as an eye, and that is an assumption for which there is little evidence. (Commentary,Vol. 101, June 1996 No. 6)

Okay, now it is the mantis’ turn:

What good would looking five percent like an orchid ever have been, to provide a platform for Darwinian natural selection? All we know for sure right now is, Darwin’s natural selection is one way it didn’t really happen.

Ah yes, the deniable Darwin. It’s been eighteen years since I was having lunch with one of the smartest people I knew, in Toronto. He made me come back to his office to wait while he photocopied “The Deniable Darwin” for me to read. And get back to him and tell him what I thought.

I did. I told him, Darwinism is in trouble. I meant conceptual trouble, of course That every intellectual union stooge was going to continue to support it, I knew also. There is no tyranny, never mind nonsense, that won’t find a hearing among such. And there is no tyranny like nonsense, but that is a story for another day.

Interestingly, Tom Wolfe, a writer whose work I admire, had the same reaction. He gave Darwinism about forty years, time for the young fogeys, including Christians on fire with zeal for Darwin, to just pass on.

See, it’ll get harder to recruit people who think, as oppose to those who just want advancement or a warm place to sleep. That’s how the thing starts to get old. – O’Leary for News

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4 Replies to “It’s Sunday morning so I get to talk about the praying mantis, right?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    My Goodness, that close up of the mantis face is eerie! Somebody call SETI. The aliens are already here and they have been right under our noses all along! 🙂

    Here is a video that is not quite so eerie:

    Adventures of an adolescent Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus Coronatus) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_jwfKyxBrc

  2. 2

    Thanks for highlighting Berlinski’s essay.

    Anyone with any interest in evolution who hasn’t read it owes it to themselves to read it in its entirety.

  3. 3
    goodusername says:

    What good would looking five percent like an orchid ever have been, to provide a platform for Darwinian natural selection?

    Why wouldn’t looking slightly like an orchid be at all effective? Do you think it currently looks 100 percent like an orchid?

  4. 4
    Dimitri44 says:

    Darwin? Could there be a relationship between Origin of Species and My Stuggle (Mein Kampf)? First we get the theory, and then we get the practice.

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