Friday, May 30, 2008

It's not always about you

Does a fish know he's wet? If water is all the fish has ever known, perhaps not.

Does a creationist recognize when he's anthropomorphizing? Does he consider that human ideas and heuristics such as purpose, order, benefit, or progress may not have any meaning from the vantage point of some other being or impersonal entity?

Here's a comment from a creationist posting at, followed by my response:
I believe things are in descent having begun in perfection. Evolution is trying to say that organisms have ascended to where they are now from a single cell by way of mutations. I believe living organisms are in a downward spiral.
Biologists may speak of the ascent of man or other species. But this is poetry. There is no ascent or descent per se. There is simply a sea of replicators replicating.

To get the hang of biology you must lose your anthrocentrism. Have a look at the world from the vantage of a bird, a fish, a spider, a bacterium, a mitochondrian, or a gene. Would T Rex feel that this era of mammalianism is an improvement compared to the age of reptiles? In terms of the menu, maybe.

Approximately 90 percent of the cells within your body belong to various non-human species. They call your body "ours" just as you call it "mine." Your arms, legs, and brain work for these others as much as for yourself.

Of those cells within you which are human you'll note no loyalty oaths. They generally cooperate with the rest of you, clearly. But they do murder their brothers with some frequency. These fratricides are often to your benefit but not always.

Even within that which is most you --your own genome-- you are overrun with foreigners. Your chromosomes are chock-a-block with endogenous retroviruses and fragments of genes once useful to other species but of no use to you.

Now that you have shrugged off your speciesism you can answer this question: Who conquered the New World, the European or his parasites?

1 comment:

  1. So much misunderstanding seems to come from us thinking that we are the centre of things. I have written about this being an aspect of ID: if we can't conceive of how something evolved, then that is it. The idea that we humans have some kind of direct connection with reality and truth is a common theme of religion.

    The only thing about your post I am not confident about is the suggestion that we are full of ERVs and bits of DNA that aren't of use to us. My understanding (I am sure Billy will correct me) is that much of what we thought was junk turns out to be important, such as for regulation. "Legacy" viral DNA within genomes can be useful too..