~ • ~ • ~ • ~
Science shares with religion the claim that it answers deep questions
about origins, the nature of life, and the cosmos. But there the
resemblance ends. Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they
get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.
—RICHARD DAWKINS, eminent British zoologist
Why is there something instead of nothing?
—HANS KUNG, eminent Swiss theologian
Empirical evidence indicates Darwinian evolution created in you and
in all other humans an adaptation for music in the form of an
integrated network of brain modules (neuronal circuits) that enable
you to make music and respond emotionally to music.
According to certain religious doctrines, talk of Darwinian
evolution amounts to nonsense or even blasphemy: God made man,
and God bestows the gift of music as God sees fit. (Or, certain
specific gods, depending upon the religion.)
Science has succeeded spectacularly in explaining nature and
making factual information available for the creation of incredible
technologies, from flying machines to nuclear weapons to life-saving
medicines to guitars and pianos. Science keeps us atop the food
chain and able to protect ourselves (most of the time) from the most
lethal of natural non-human predators.
Most religions hypothesize (but promulgate as truth) divine
creation, external, objectifiable forces of good and evil, an afterlife,
and some sort of heaven and hell.
But sincere belief in religious doctrine does not make it true.
evidence supporting Darwinian evolution directly contradicts such claims,
earning the enduring hostility of strongly committed religious adherents who
believe in the unchangeable doctrines and “received truths” of their faith, and
do not tolerate free inquiry, evidence, or critical thinking.
In one notorious case in America in the 1920s, a high school
science teacher stood trial for teaching evolution, in violation of
Tennessee law. The court convicted him (Scopes Monkey Trial).
Some U. S. states still occasionally pass anti-evolution statutes,
though courts now tend to pay more attention to the constitutional
principle of separation of church and state.
Religion as an Adaptation
But that the dread of something after death,
undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
(Hamlet, III, i)
Religion may actually be a behavioural adaptation.
Religious beliefs are hypotheses that try to explain things people can’t
understand or figure out, for lack of information or evidence, “attempts of the
human mind to impose some kind of order on the chaos of existence.”
No credible evidence exists that any species, including Homo sapiens, has a
higher purpose beyond survival and procreation—i.e., sending genes into the next
generation. If, as biological evidence suggests, religious faith is a biological
adaptation, the selective pressure that created it has some obvious functions.
protect adherents (the overwhelming majority of humankind) from depression,
anxiety, and suicide—although some adherents use suicide as a ticket to
“paradise,” such as the 9/11 terrorists and countless suicide bombers.
• Provides a sense of purpose, promoting feelings of well-being. Religious believers report higher levels of happiness
and life satisfaction, compared with non-religious peers.
• Provides adherents with membership in a powerful group,
and all the survival advantages that go with such affiliation.
The hypothesis that religion is an adaptation would predict that religious faith
would be prevalent in all societies, regardless of level of technological
advancement, in nations such as India as well as in nations such as America.
Religions compete with each other much as businesses compete with each other for
mind share and market share. Winning religions flourish and spread through
proselytizing and warfare, then die away and become mythologies (e.g., Roman and
Greek religions are now considered mythologies). A mythology, it is said, is a
religion that has gone out of fashion. Odds are, in the unlikely event humankind
does not fight or poison itself into extinction over the next few centuries or
millennia, today’s religions will pass into official mythology. New religions
will prevail, deifying Captain Kirk, Harry Potter, and Paris Hilton. (Perhaps
the Hilton hotel in Paris will assume the religious significance now associated
with the Vatican.)
Religion has been around for tens of thousands of years—far longer than any of
today’s Johnny-come-lately religions such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Christianity, and Islam (and secular religions such as Marxism and Naziism). And
much longer than any of recorded history’s extinct religions. According to one
anthropological estimate, humankind has created perhaps 100,000 religions over
tens of thousands of years. A 35,000-year-old cave painting in Italy, for
example, clearly shows a mask-wearing shaman or wizard, hands outstretched,
likely performing some sort of ritual. As well, there is evidence that the
species Homo neanderthalensis, a species distinctly different from our own, had
religion some 60,000 years ago.
As for brain location of the “religion” adaptation, damage to the right frontal
lobe significantly alters a person’s religious and political beliefs and values.
From time to time throughout history, religious and political leaders,
recognizing the power of music to engage people emotionally, have
sought to quash it, sometimes brutally.
A few examples:
• The Christian church obstructed the development of
polyphony and harmony because religious leaders realized
music elicits emotion, including pleasure, which was contrary
to church doctrine.
• The Nazis banned jazz in the 1930s because black people
played it and Jewish people encouraged and financed its
• The communist Chinese dictatorship, when it seized power
in1949, banned jazz, the music of the bourgeois capitalist
American churches with white congregations and racist agendas have periodically
banned specific types of “immoral” African American music, sometimes targeting
Afghanistan in 1996, the Taliban seized power and imposed a hideous form of
religious fascism on the country. For the next five years, the Taliban’s Islamic
police force visited incredible horrors and atrocities on various sectors of the
population, especially women. The Taliban banned education for girls, blew up
works of art, and outlawed music. Playing or enjoying music was deemed
“un-Islamic.” Musicians resisted by going underground and continuing to make
Algeria in the 1990s, Islamic death squads specifically targeted, hunted down,
and murdered musicians for their “un-Islamic” musical activities.
OF THE ADAPTATION
palaeontological evidence indicates all life on earth began from one replicating
molecule nearly four billion years ago. Every living thing on earth uses the
same 64-word DNA “dictionary” of codons, practically conclusive evidence that
all life on earth descended from the same molecular ancestor. This phenomenon is
known as common descent. The origin of life amounted to the origin
Today, for example, humans and flies share much of the same
genetic material. So do humans and mice. As previously mentioned, humans,
chimpanzees share more than 98% of the same DNA. The genomes
of chimpanzees and humans have been sequenced and compared,
and show remarkable similarity. Humans share some similar behaviour characteristics with chimpanzees, such as male
aggression and tool use. Yet, despite genomic similarity, enough
genetic differences exist to make humans and chimps far different
Evolution Is “Just a Hypothesis”?
Research on human mindset indicates humans hold on
to core political and religious beliefs even in the face of compelling,
contra-indicating factual evidence because they don’t want to have to cope with
the emotional stress involved in modifying beliefs.
It’s interesting to note that more than 80% of U. S. teenagers believe God
created human beings, either directly, by creating us in our present form within
the last 10,000 years, or indirectly by guiding the evolutionary process so that
we would end up the way we are. Only 20% of adults with a high school education
or less believe that Darwinian evolution is a well-supported scientific theory.
The remaining 80% presumably believe evolution is “just a hypothesis.” Education
tends to dispel belief in creation mythology. The proportion of believers in
creation mythology plummets to 35% among adults with a post-graduate education.
But that still means 35% of adults with a post-graduated education refuse to
believe the scientific evidence supporting Darwinian evolution.
The first replicating molecule originated in one of two ways:
1. In situ hypothesis.
Until recently, pre-biotic chemists believed life originated in the chemical
cauldron that was the earth’s surface several billion years ago.
2. Panspermia hypothesis. Today, in light of new evidence,
the panspermia hypothesis seems more likely. Life may not have had an
earthly origin. On more than one occasion, astronomers have observed “sugar
clouds” floating around in the Milky Way—some of the same organic material
contained in comets that smash into the earth every so often (not too often!).
If this is how life on earth got kick started nearly 4 billion years ago, it
probably happened on countless other planets in our galaxy and other galaxies.
How did non-life turn into life?
popular mythology, life begins with “ensoulment,” which occurs at the “moment of
conception.” In fact, there’s no such thing as a moment of conception. The
biological process of conception takes up to 48 hours to complete. Similarly, no
sharp demarcation exists between non-life and life. Viruses, for example, have
either DNA or RNA, but are not considered to be “alive” until they infect host
cells, where they replicate and behave like life forms, sort of.
Scientists can create organic compounds in the lab, including
some of the life-essential amino acids, by simulating conditions on
earth billions of years ago. Two-carbon sugar, such as the sugar in
the observed galactic sugar clouds, is not far removed from RNA. In
the presence of minerals such as borax, simple sugars stop reacting
at five carbons, the carbon sugars of life. Not only that, a form of
evolution by natural selection (but not life) was set in motion in the
lab in some remarkable experiments by the molecular biologist Sol
replication, like the generation of sentences and musical phrases, is
combinatorial. A finite number of genes creates a practically infinite number of
combinations. That’s why the absolute number of genes in the genome of a given
species has practically nothing to do with the complexity of the organism.
Humans have only about 25,000 to 30,000 genes. Other species have more.
However, scientists will never be able to artificially create life as
we know it in a lab, for several good reasons:
• The first life on earth evolved without oxygen. Even today,
living organisms at the bottom of the ocean surrounding
undersea vents metabolize sulphur instead of oxygen.
• DNA almost certainly had a replicating forerunner, long
• Life today consists of cells, which are extremely complex,
exquisitely functioning units that took billions of years to
evolve from scratch. They contain many thousands of
molecules and ions. No one is going to artificially create a
living cell in the lab from scratch anytime soon.
“Super Bowl” Janet, Appearing at Your Local Madrasah
One day, millions of atoms that now constitute
Janet Jackson’s naked right “Super Bowl” breast will mingle merrily with atoms
of the eyeballs of fanatical fundamentalists, ensconced in their madrasahs.
After you die, your body’s trillions of atoms
slowly but surely make their way back into the atmosphere, and way beyond.
Nature recycles atoms.
Right now, you probably have, built into our own body, millions of
atoms of Plato, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, and Guido d'Arezzo.
And anyone else you care to name who lived many centuries ago.
And, in the future, your atoms will frolic with the atoms of Judy
Garland, Janet Jackson, Elvis (if he ever dies), Salman Rushdie,
and every sanctimonious mullah who ever issued a fatwa.
Here are some significant points in evolutionary history, focussing on
events of musical significance (all dates approximate, of course).
• 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago: The original replicator starts
• 500 million years ago: Life forms begin to sense sound.
• 5 to 7 million years ago: Hominid line splits from other
primates. Last common ancestor of chimpanzees and
humans probably lived about 7 million years ago.
Oldest known hominid could be Sahelanthropus tchandensis,
about 6 million years old. Or it could be Ardipthecus kadabba,
also about 6 million years old. Or some other two-legged
critter with a fancy Latin name.
Hominids arose in Africa. Key characteristic of hominids is that all were
bipedal—the first significant trait that separated early hominids from great ape
species. This led to rearrangement of internal organs now characteristic of
modern humans, the only hominid species that has not (yet) gone extinct.
Due to bipedalism, humans have a unique respiratory tract,
compared with our non-bipedal close relatives such as
chimpanzees and gorillas. Humans have better control of
breathing, and this probably facilitated the evolution of
language and vocal music.
Proto-music and language may have begun soon after the hominid branch split from
the common ancestor of humans and today’s great apes. However, bipedalism did
not lead directly to encephalation (brain expansion). Hominids were walking upright for several
million years before encephalation began.
For the first 5 million years of hominid evolution, the dominant species were
various runty little Australopithecines (“austral” means “southern,” as in
southern Africa; nothing to do with Australia).
• 2.4 million years ago: The genus Homo
appears. That’s our genus. About a dozen Homo species eventually evolved, all
of which became extinct except H. sapiens.
Most human evolution took place in the Palaeolithic Age, also known as the Old
Stone Age, a time period recognized by palaeontologists and archaeologists that
began about 2.5 million years ago and ended about 12,000 years ago. (In geology,
the equivalent period is called the Pleistocene epoch—1.8 million years ago to
about 12,000 years ago.)
It is possible that music has existed in all species of the
genus Homo. However, it’s hard to know exactly when music began because
musical instruments made of reeds or trees or animal hides decay into dust and
leave no fossil evidence. Also, the vocal apparatus is made of soft tissue,
which decays into dust, except for the hyoid bone, which occasionally
Evidence from the fossil record indicates a modern
respiratory system in the genus Homo at least 1.5 million years ago, with
traits such as a barrel chest and projecting nose—requirements for producing
both vocal music and words. So it’s conceivable that singing and language go
back that far. Apes, due to their vocal tract anatomy, do not have the ability
to produce consonants, and, therefore, spoken language.
• 2.4 million years ago: MYH16 mutation in genus Homo that
may have enabled encephalation.
• 2 million years ago: Evidence of encephalation already
underway in genus Homo. Skull size eventually triples to
Selective pressure drove the evolution of a variety of social
bonding adaptations, including music and language, and
thereby drove encephalation.
Although a few animals have brains that exceed the size of
the human brain, the important thing is the ratio of brain size
to body weight. By this measure, Homo sapiens easily tops
the podium as the brainiest species on the planet.
The American palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould, among others, studied the ratio
of brain size to body weight in other hominids and other primates, and
concluded, “...our brain has undergone a true increase in size not related to
the demands of our larger body. We are, indeed, smarter than we were.”
• 800,000 to 1 million years ago: Evidence from archaeology
that hominids controlled fire. A milestone in music: the first
• 200,000 years ago: Early modern Homo sapiens appears.
• 200,000 years ago: Unfairly maligned Homo
neanderthalensis appears. Became extinct approximately
30,000 years ago.
H. neanderthalensis was a hardy, intelligent species distinct
from H. sapiens, and with a larger brain. DNA evidence
shows Homo sapiens did not “descend” from Neanderthals, nor interbreed
A Neanderthal hyoid bone—the horseshoe-shaped bone above the larynx—from about
45,000 years ago has pretty much the same shape as a modern human hyoid bone.
Neanderthals also had other cranial characteristics required for vocal music and
speech, which fall well within the human range. Neanderthals probably spoke and
sang and had similar mental abilities as H. sapiens.
It is entirely possible that our species, H. sapiens, killed off H.
neanderthalensis. Early genocide.
• 115,000 years ago: Fully modern Homo sapiens (Africa).
• 60,000 to 100,000 years ago: A relatively small number of
modern humans leaves Africa. DNA and other evidence
strongly indicates all humans today are descended from this
Since they were biologically the same as us, they must have
had language. And since music either preceded or co-evolved with language, they must have had music.
• 75,000 years ago: Evidence of human use of symbolism
(Africa), the hallmark of human culture. Humans were using
beads made from shells, not merely for decoration, but to
• 44,000 years ago:
Oldest known well-documented musical instrument, a bone flute. This means it’s
likely people commonly made flutes from other materials such as hollowed-out
plant stems. (Cultures already had highly developed visual art by this time.)
The fossil record shows Homo neanderthalensis
made this bone flute—not Homo sapiens. As a musical instrument, the
Neanderthal bone flute is sophisticated and not obvious.
(Other inventions that seem simple and obvious, such as the wheel, only arose in
the past few thousand years.)
The Neanderthal bone flute has four holes spaced such that
the sound corresponds to whole and half-steps of the diatonic
Percussion instruments very likely predated melodic
instruments by hundreds of thousands of years. Human vocal
music certainly predated music played on percussion
• 32,000 years ago: Symbolic markings on bone, clay, stones,
and ornaments reveal that elementary literacy is well in place
by this time.
Music Notation: The “Frozen Artifact of the Score”
Music without notation, like language without writing, goes back
hundreds of thousands of years.
The technologies of notating music and language are relatively
recent non-instinctive cultural constructs, invented in the past few
thousand years. Being non-instinctive inventions, written language
and music require specific schooling to master.
A piece of notated music, like an architect’s
drawing, amounts to a technical, symbolic representation of the real thing.
When you play or sing a piece of music from
notation, the “frozen artifact of the score,” what you play never corresponds exactly
to the notation. A computer can do that, you can’t. The difference between
what’s notated on the page and what you actually sing or play constitutes your
personal style (not counting unintended errors).
When you notate music, you code sound, which gets decoded
during performance. At the same time, the brains of listeners re-code the sound, thereby experiencing music.
A lot of music teaching obsesses on the
technical “coding-decoding” aspects of music. And especially on eliminating
“errors.” Playing each note absolutely “correctly.” Exactly as notated. Never
mind emotional substance and content. Many students who take years of
conservatory lessons can sight read the most complex classical pieces, yet have
no real understanding of how music works, and could not play a Hank Williams
song without the sheet music.
Notating music used to be the only way to make a permanent
record of a song or other piece of music. If you were a songwriter
and did not know how to notate, you had to either learn how, or
find someone to do it for you.
When personal recording technology came along, you could
create a permanent record of a song without having to learn
Now, with digital technology, you can use any
number of hardware and software products to turn the music you play into musical
notation—for the benefit of musicians who don’t know how to play by ear.
It’s the age of post-literate musicianship. If
you own a computer and have the right software, you can create elaborate music
without ever having to learn to play a musical instrument.
Darwin believed language and music had a common origin in
sexually selected mating calls, but that language developed first.
However, today researchers believe the preponderance of evidence
indicates language and music co-evolved from a common vocal
Evidence indicates early hominid species could dance and sing
several hundred thousand years before the appearance of modern
Homo species. Music, language, and dance may have a common
origin in the modules that evolved for pounding, throwing, and tool-using generally. The underlying skill manifesting as an adaptation
would have been rhythm.
syntax (order or arrangement) and musical syntax appear to share common
processes in the brain. Studies of brain activity during music and language
processing show similarities in the way the brain handles temporal
(time-related) aspects of both language and music. “When we listen to language
and music, not only do we expect words or chords with specific meaning and
function, but we also expect them to be presented on time!” For hilarious
confirmation, track down Bob and Ray’s comedy sketch, “Slow Talkers of America.”
could have evolved from speech, or speech from music, or, more likely, both
speech and music could have co-evolved, sharing a common ancestor that had some
characteristics of speech, some of music. In early humans, the music-language
precursor, termed “musilanguage” by the neuroscientist Steven Brown, would have
conveyed referential meaning (i.e., information) and also emotional meaning,
using discrete pitch levels and expressive phrasing. Eventually, the
musilanguage precursor would have split into two specialties:
• A specialty for conveying mainly referential meaning
symbolically, (language), initially by expressive phrasing, and
later using a vocabulary of words
• A specialty for conveying emotional meaning, mainly without
symbolic meaning (music), via discrete pitch levels.
and language likely co-evolved, and therefore interacted. So crossover occurred,
as evidenced in songs with lyrics—“verbal song.” Today, there’s a continuum:
(e. g., scat
Music and language both evolved as systems to communicate
meaning via sound organized in the dimension of time. They have
• Metrical structure: strong and weak beats
• Melodic contour: rising and falling pitch
• Group structure: phrases within phrases
• Phrase duration
• Communication of emotion (although music dominates)
However there are some clear and important differences
between music and language:
• Language conveys information as well as emotion. Music
communicates emotion only.
• Everybody can easily create language
competently (talk meaningfully),
whereas not everybody can create music competently. It may well be that
this difference stems from the fact that everybody gets
constant practice in language in everyday communication,
whereas, after infancy and after learning to talk, musical
communication as a survival necessity falls off dramatically,
and therefore into disuse.
• Language does not have an equivalent of the musical
phenomenon of harmony. In harmony, two separate pitches
are produced at the same time and the brain makes sense of
the resulting sound. However, in speech, two separate words
produced at the same time sound garbled. The brain cannot
make sense of the resulting sound.
Overall, the similarities between music and language in the brain
are striking, and outweigh the differences, indicating a common
Both music and
language have extremely similar phrase-based hierarchical structures and other
similarities—so many that it’s highly unlikely they did not co-evolve.
The evidence indicates primate singing evolved several times
independently (a phenomenon called convergence) from adaptive
calls originally used to signal alarm or to advertise territorial claims.
Ultimately, such calls evolved into music and language in various
species of the Homo genus.
today’s great apes, for example, hoots and calls transmit information among
groups about where individuals and sub-groups are hanging out, who’s looking for
a mate, and what the neighbourhood primatologists are up to. Physical movements
such as stomping and shaking branches often accompany vocalizations. In our
hominid ancestors, such actions may well have evolved into rhythmic motion,
reinforcing vocal calls.
Primates other than humans have vocal communication systems
that fit the description of the musilanguage precursor. For example:
gibbons and chimpanzees make vocalizations that biologists consider to be “protomusical,”
that is, ancestral or early stage, the kind of vocalizations that our hominid
ancestors probably made before their brains enlarged and human-like music and
language became possible.
• Vocalizations of East African vervet monkeys convey both
emotion and referential meaning.
pairs of gibbons “sing” duets.
summarize, language requires a large brain, as does rhythmic, scale-based,
harmonic human music. No other species has a brain-to-body-weight ratio as high
as humans, and no other species has either music or language. With so much in
common, it’s likely music and language co-evolved from precursor animal calls.
Competence in both language and music develop in all normal
children spontaneously. No conscious effort necessary. No formal
Both music and language function in accordance with rule-based
brain systems comprised of elemental units (words, pitches,
intervals) that group into larger structures (musical and lyrical
phrases, sentences, choruses).
learn both music and language without any conscious awareness of what they’re
doing. They effortlessly combine musical elements to create entirely original
tunes. With equal ease, they learn words and combine them to create entirely
both cases, they don’t realize that they’re applying combinatorial rules,
already in their brains from birth, to word-vocabularies and pitch-vocabularies.
Darwinian evolution happens
brain modules evolved during Palaeolithic times, when our ancestors were
hunter-gatherers. Pinker: “The mind is organized into modules or mental organs,
each with a specialized design ... Their operation was shaped by natural
selection to solve the problems of the hunting and gathering life led by our
ancestors in most of our evolutionary history.” These adaptations still
influence our behaviour and often complicate our lives in an increasingly
high-tech social environment. We humans disregard our Stone Age genetic
inheritance at our peril.
Are humans still evolving by Darwinian natural selection? There
is evidence we are:
genetic mutation that regulates brain size (MCPH1) arose 37,000 years ago, and
has spread “rapidly” (by slow evolutionary standards).
• Another brain-size-regulating gene (ASPM) emerged in its
modern form only about 5,800 years ago.
Still, the overall Darwinian evolutionary change in the short term
(over the past few tens of thousands of years) cannot be great,
because it takes such a long time for an important adaptation to
become encoded in the genome of a species.
Suppose you were to jump into a time machine and zip back to
the Stone Age. Say, 64,813 years back. You look around and what
do you see? Why, a newborn Homo sapiens baby. Alas, she’s orphaned and
wailing, poor dear. You scoop her up, jump back into your time machine, and whip
back to the present.
what do you do? Contact Marshal McDillon, of course. His cousin’s family, the
Donkersloots, agree to raise the Stone Age baby.
she like anyway, with her 64,813-year-old brain and body?
no different from anybody alive today. She looks the same as any newborn in
Dodge City. Or even Wichita. As she grows up, she’ll learn language normally,
play piano, hang around in malls, ride horses, have her pick of ardent male
admirers, graduate from university, and become a psychology professor.
is the period of time it takes for a mutation in an individual that results in a
significant survival or reproductive advantage to become encoded in the human
genome. The interval is of the order of several hundred centuries—tens of
thousands of years.
On the other hand, the selective pressure of local climatic
conditions can bring on less significant adaptations over shorter time
periods. For instance, variations in skin color (a topic discussed in
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
—ARTHUR C. CLARKE
I have ... a foreboding of an America in my children’s generation, or my
grandchildren’s generation ... when, clutching our crystals and nervously
consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline, unable to
distinguish between what’s true and what feels good, we slide, almost without
noticing, into superstition and darkness.
It’s hard to know where to begin with the notion
of “intelligent design” (usually abbreviated ID).
ID is a religious creation myth that goes like
this: “Wow! How wonderfully complex the living world is! Must be the work of an
intelligent designer! Couldn’t possibly have occurred by unguided natural
The concept of intelligent design is not remotely scientific. Not a single paper
supporting the notion has ever passed peer review for publication in a
scientific journal. Like all creation myths, there’s simply no evidence for ID,
and the hypothesis is untestable. ID is creationist movement funded, especially
in the United States, by wealthy fundamentalist Christians.
Use of the word “intelligent” in a term for a creation myth makes ID sound
scientific. Strongholds of Christian fundamentalism periodically succeed in
mandating the teaching of creation mythology (usually dubbed “creation science”)
in public schools. However, the courts, recognizing the principle of separation
of church and state, usually strike down such laws. Religious fundamentalists
pull out all stops to out-manoeuver the courts by insisting that ID does not
name God as the intelligent designer. It just implies that God is the
intelligent designer. (Perhaps the time has come for Hindus and Buddhists to
insist on the teaching of the “science” of reincarnation in the public school
Far from being “intelligently designed,” anatomy reveals how creatures are
cobbled together, sometimes even jury-rigged, exactly as predicted by blind
Darwinian natural selection. A few examples:
• Humans (and other animals) have more miscarriages than
retina of the human eye is “installed” backwards.
• The laryngeal nerve takes a ridiculous roundabout loop to
get from the larynx to the brain.
• Human males have nipples.
human males, the urethra passes through the prostate. gland—probably the last
place an intelligent designer
would route it.
Humans like to try to solve difficult problems by using binary classification.
Often, this takes the form of a false dichotomy: “If you have no scientific
evidence, then God is responsible.” (This leaves out the possibility that a
scientific explanation does exist, and will one day be found.)
Such is the flawed thinking behind intelligent design. Science does in fact have
an extremely well-supported scientific explanation of complex design in nature,
namely Darwinian natural selection. Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker
is one of many books that spells out the scientific explanation in detail.
Darwinian evolution by natural selection gave rise to all life on earth,
including the human species. Without foresight, without consciousness, without
purpose. And without any need for assistance from a deity or the supernatural.
The process seems magical, but it isn’t.