Pastafarians and evolution in your own back yard
Sunday August 21st 2005, 10:21 am

 and for my next trick I'll be turning water into wine 

image: Steve Sack for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune 

I really can’t believe the evolution debate is still going on in 2005. It has always smacked of antiquated lunacies like a ‘flat earth.’ While I acknowledge that I’m racing off into the land of ad hominem, my experience is that the complete wrongability of ‘intelligent design‘  is usually promulgated by uneducated inbreds who raise their kids in mobile homes in America’s Tornado Alley which all by itself should have eliminated these idiots by natural selection many years ago. The freaky part is that bible-whacking morons are YET AGAIN trying to force their fairy tales to be taught in secular American public schools, alongside Darwin’s evolutionary theories, using remarkably ignorant dismissals such as ‘evolution is only a theory.’

I had the argument in about 1989 (when I apparently had much more patience for morons) on a much smaller scale, with a cross-swinging fool I used to work for. I bet the guy the price of lunches for a week that not only I could prove evolution works, but continues- in his own back yard. I postulated that I could prove the case for evolution with a lawnmower, and all Hilljack Bob had to do was not mow his grass for 2 weeks. Bob swallowed the bait.

2 weeks later, I pointed out that there were no tall stemmed dandelions in areas of lawn that were frequently mowed, but there were dandelions which formed flowers close to the ground, on very short stems. The dandelion flowers which escaped the 3" mower blade height were able to form their flower heads fully and go to seed, thus reproducing. The dandelions which formed flowers on stems taller than the mower’s cutting height were not able to reproduce. Consequently, short dandelions were much more prevalent in the frequently mowed areas. The successful dandelions had adapted to the hostile environment by ‘finding’ a way to reproduce despite the conditions. A small genetic mutation caused these dandelions to produce mature flower heads on very short stems. This trait had been selected for broad reproduction by preventing the tall ones from developing mature flower heads- and thus seeds. Voila! Evolution in your own back yard.

Hilljack Bob refused to pay up. He declared that earlier mowing must have stunted the existing plants, causing them to have short-stemmed flowers. I insisted that there was a DNA difference between the plants caused by a genetic mutation and that this difference would show up in un-mowed progeny, in the same way that a man whose leg has been amputated will not father one-legged children.  I hypothesised that I could prove that the mutation existed in the DNA by raising new dandelion plants with seeds collected from the short and tall types. Hilljack Bob bit in again. I collected seeds from both types and grew about 20 of each in small containers. Every single time, seeds from short dandelions produced short progeny and seeds from tall dandelions produced plants which made flowers on tall stems; QED.

You’d think by now that I’d have proven my case and got a week’s worth of free lunches. Nope. Hilljack Bob changed the rules of the game. He insisted that ‘God had seen him‘ mow these dandelions and had induced the short flowering trait by His hand.

The moral of the story is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch when you’re dealing with someone who refuses to accept scientific method or facts deduced using the same.

Pastafarians have accepted that bible-whacking morons will introduce new rules when their belief-based ‘theories’ are proven wrong. Accepting the challenge to illuminate the ridiculous, Xeni Jardin over at Boing Boing has offered $250,000 $1 million to anyone who can prove conclusively that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, using the same circular, paradoxical logic and magical interventions proposed by creationists. 

Proponents of fairy-tales should look at this article from Scientific American.  Evolution is ‘just a theory,’ eh?

Be prepared for American creationists to invent some new rules.

-weez 


11 Comments so far
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This post is like MacGyver for biology!

Comment by Flashman 08.21.05 @ 3:23 pm

Flash, for my next trick, I’ll sew up a few roadkills with baling wire and make my own dingoroo. :D

Comment by weezil 08.21.05 @ 3:42 pm

Great post Weez. The struggle between political correctness and downright scientific intelligence goes on though, and will probably go on for some time to come.

Comment by Guy 08.23.05 @ 10:01 am

Thanks, Guy.

I don’t actually fit creationism advocacy into the ‘politically correct’ basket, though. While the current state of PC calls for inclusiveness and tolerance of different races & religions, not many practitioners of PC will try to stand up creationism as a logical competitor to evolutionary science.

However, I can tell you through the experiences of growing up in the mudwestern USA that if you are a professed non-believer, you’re in almost as much trouble as if you were the same in Mecca.

If you stop 100 mudwestern Americans on the street, 99 will profess to be a Christian but about 5 will actually admit going to a church regularly. Almost all will see no irony in the phrase ‘good Christian.’

Atheists cop gobs of abuse in school or work situations in most places in the USA. I’ve personally had a co-worker complain to my boss about my atheism. If that boss hadn’t been totally convinced that I would sue his ass off if he fired me for not participating in workplace prayers, he would have sacked me in an instant.

Australia is refreshingly different in that religion is something that people largely keep to themselves… unless it’s the flaming JWs on your doorstep…

Comment by weezil 08.23.05 @ 10:17 am

Brilliant. I would have just rambled on about moths and bacteria to your mate, your example is excellent.

Comment by Kate 08.23.05 @ 11:20 am

Thanks, Kate. :)

Comment by weezil 08.23.05 @ 11:26 am

It really seems like even here we are trying to go back to the early 20th century. We have the return of conspicuous religiosity. Then there is industrial relations policies that jettisons the “we’re all middle class” bs that has been fed to us for the last couple of decades. Costello seems to be reviving the Red (and Black) Scare, so all we need is some good ol eugenicists and we’re pretty much done.

Comment by dj 08.23.05 @ 1:40 pm

deej, what I find interesting is that now the conspicuously Christian are getting a reputation for being political conservatives. Wasn’t always so. The churchies in the neck-o-the-weeds of my youth in the USA were decidedly lefties. Lots of charitable work for needy, etc. Bill Crews type, make-your-little-cotton-socks-warm kinda Christianity. Whom has co-opted who over there?

The combination of political conservativism with being noisily devout about one’s born-againness doesn’t really seem to play well in Australia, though. HoWARd’s proposed IR policies are certainly more socially Darwinian than suited Aspinall.

Anyone showing signs of crossing the floor on IR yet?

Comment by weezil 08.23.05 @ 9:52 pm

An excellent post! I think that so much of the misunderstanding stems (no pun intended) from the fact that Creationists generally have no idea what the words “science” or “theory” mean. Nor do they understand what theism implies. Basically if someone believes in any deity whatsoever, than anything can be the case. The entire universe with short and long dandelions and our memories of them could have been wished into existence a second ago. The problem is that such a universe doesn’t “make sense.” And in such a universe in which the basic laws of cause and effect aren’t absolute, it doesn’t make sense to say that we “know” anything. Sure knowledge of anything (even God!) is inherently impossible since we can never know whether those thoughts were implanted in our brains.

Comment by Karlo 08.25.05 @ 3:22 am

For a million I’m almost tempted to descend into their perverse, delusional world.

Almost…

Comment by Ben 08.25.05 @ 7:24 am

The blue pill . . . or the red pill?

Comment by Karlo 08.29.05 @ 4:49 am



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