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blue bits. red rocks.

evolution

Despite these three evolutionary strikes, God hasn’t necessarily struck out. At the end of the movie version of “Inherit the Wind,” based on the famous Scopes “monkey trial” over a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, Spencer Tracy’s character, fashioned after the defense attorney Clarence Darrow, stands in the empty courtroom, picks up a Bible in one hand and Darwin’s “Origin of Species” in the other, gives a knowing smile and claps them together before putting both under his arm. Would that it were so simple. God, Darwin and My College Biology Class

To take root in deeply religious America, evolution needs to be a better myth. Edward O. Wilson, one of our greatest living scientists and certainly no champion of creationism or any sort of religion, has gone so far as to say we need to appreciate the scientific story of origins to the point where we can “worship the evolutionary epic.” While “worshipping the evolutionary epic” might sound absurd and even meaningless, we must not be too quick to throw out Wilson’s provocative proposal. Wilson understands, in ways that many of us do not, just how hard-wired we are to seek purpose in the world. He understands that we may not be able to simply abandon our traditional creation story without some sort of replacement. And evolution, as a full-blown origins myth, is not a satisfactory replacement for most Americans. Karl Giberson

Nobody doubts that some groups survive better than others. What is controversial is the idea that differential group survival drives evolution, as differential individual survival does. The American grey squirrel is driving our native red squirrel to extinction, no doubt because it happens to have certain advantages. That’s differential group survival. But you’d never say of any part of a squirrel that it evolved to promote the welfare of the grey squirrel over the red. Wilson wouldn’t say anything so silly about squirrels. He doesn’t realise that what he does say, if you examine it carefully, is as implausible and as unsupported by evidence. The descent of Edward Wilson

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