Robyn Williams and the facts of nature
|August 5, 2006||Posted by O'Leary under Intelligent Design|
Bill Dembski’s post on an Australian anti-ID tract, creationism’s belligerent cousin , quotes the science broadcaster Robyn Williams in an interview with scijo Deborah Smith, regarding the alleged defects of the human (and marsupial) body:
And the technique appears to have been slapdash or confused: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Halitosis, farting, vaginal discharge, reflux, snoring, rheumatism, warts, smelly armpits, varicose veins, menopause, brewerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s droop Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ these are not the marks of a designer at the top of his game.Ã¢â‚¬Â Koalas, Williams also notes, have a pouch that opens downwards. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Was God intending the babies to fall out and crash to the forest floor?Ã¢â‚¬Â
To me, this is fascinating because, once upon a time, it was mostly effete literati who made these kinds of comments.
Today, in defense of Darwinism, a science broadcaster is allowed to pretend toÃ‚Â the general publicÃ‚Â that the practicalities ofÃ‚Â biochemistry in real time and space are somehow a defect of the system – much as if a car’s exhaust system were identified as a defect of engineering.
In the eighteenth century, satirical author Jonathan Swift writes of a lover who expresses a sense of pain that his sweetheart, like other life forms, needs to visit the water closet now and then – or, as he put it, “Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits.”
The more pragmatic twentieth century journalist/novelist George Orwell replied, “And so much the worse for her if she didn’t.”
It’s one thing for effete literati to pretend disgust with nature’s recycling processes, but … science guys?
Similarly, any layperson can see thatÃ‚Â the marsupial is numerous and ancient enough inÃ‚Â the southern hemisphere that claims of “wrong” designÃ‚Â should be questioned.
Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that marsupials exit the uterus and proceed upwardÃ‚Â (= toward the head) to the pouch.Ã‚Â
Ã‚Â Immediately after birth, the tiny offspring, which weighs no more than 1 g (0.04 oz), crawls along its motherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body toward a nipple, which in most marsupials is located inside an abdominal pouch or within folds of skin. The newborn attaches firmly to a nipple to suckle its motherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s milk. The nipple expands inside the mouth of the young, locking the offspring in place for several weeks until it is more fully developed and can move about on its own. The offspring may remain with the mother until it is more than a year old, climbing in and out of her pouch for nourishment or safety.
Okay, so in this system, the embryo is fixed to the nipple by expansive pressure.Ã‚Â In general, I suppose the mamas of the embryo kangaroos and possumsÃ‚Â can’t help them much in their journey,Ã‚Â because they are very delicate. Nor can either the embryos or the adults be assumed to be very bright. In that case, the entrance would be in the right place for the purpose – a straight line along the body, no guessing. Anyway, I guess it works often enough, considering the numbers of marsupials in the world.Ã‚Â
As a journalist, I mainly study the cultural issues around the Darwinism controversy. SoÃ‚Â the two thingsÃ‚Â IÃ‚Â find interesting about all this are:
1. There is so much public information on the Internet now that anyone can see what might be wrong with arguments for Darwinism that appeal only to the layperson’s supposed lack of knowledge -Ã‚Â as Williams’sÃ‚Â does. (HeÃ‚Â assumes I can’t find out in five minutes just how theÃ‚Â little rooÃ‚Â is securedÃ‚Â to the nipple.)
2. Nonetheless, the typical Darwinist continues to insist that only ignorance or some vast conspiracy among pious wingnuts explains growing public disbelief in his system.