I’m an atheist. Its not something I generally shout or pontificate about, atheists tend not to, as pointed out by Richard Dawkins in the marvellous The God Delusion.
I’m not here (yet) to go off an any particular anti-religious rant, I just felt the urge to point out something that occured to me recently. Evolution has done some pretty daft things. Which made me think that the whole counter argument of Intelligent Design makes even less sense (if that was possible). You see, some designs are simply ‘unintelligent’.
No, before I go any further, I must apologise to all those who have doubtless pointed this out before. But it was on my mind so I going to have my own go at it. What else are blogs for?
The thing that triggered this was, strangely, Happy Feet. I saw this shortly after I had revisited the plight of the penguins in the unerringly excellent Planet Earth. Sitting in the cinema, it gives you more than enough time to contemplate quite what a ridiculous ordeal those poor bugger penguins have to go through. -40C, howling snow storms, standing on ice, no food, standing perfectly still for the whole winter, in the dark. No TV. That doesn’t strike me as particularly intelligent design. Lets face is, there are LOTS of other places on earth to have a go at that. Nicer places, with fish, sun, maybe some earth. If you were going to go about things ‘intellgently’ you just wouldn’t come up with nonsense like that.
“OK guys, here’s the deal, we’re going to make you one of the sea’s biggest and best predators.”
“Nice, luvin’ it, luvin’ it.”
“You’re really big, large row of teeth, huge brain, biggest on the planet and a really cool sonar thing.”
“SCORE, we are rockin’..what are we called?”
“Eh…you’re a whale, a Sperm Whale.”
“Nice, right, thanks we’re off…”
“Eh…hang on…one thing…”
“Eh…the stuff you eat is REALLY deep in the sea.”
“Yeah, whatever, so…”
“And you can only breath air.”
“You can only breath air.”
“You we heard.”
“Do we get lights?”
The this doesn’t make much sense as a design either. There hardly seems a point to put an air breathing mammal in the sea (any of them). I can’t see who you would ever sit down and think, “We’ll have lots of big sea guys, but lets make it really hard for them and make them breathe air.” Wouldn’t happen. I’ve seen some people do some pretty dumb designs in my time, but nothing as dumb as that.
The Magicicada. Wait 17 years, fly about a bit. Die. Genius.
But that is the beauty of evolution. It matters not a jot whether not it is intelligent, it just matters if it works and, crucially, works better than the other creatures trying to survive doing roughly the same thing.
It is the inherent randomness in the genetic variation that can produce animals that are forced to endure quite ridiculous circumstances, not because it makes sense, just because it works, they survive.
This is obviously just a glib argument based on the nuances of the word ‘intelligent’, but you simply have to rejoice in the wonderful, inherent randomness of it all.
But you also have to give all your sympathies to the myriad of creatures whose ‘designs’ were even worse and meant they didn’t survive. What on earth could have been going on with them?