Friday, February 13, 2009

Darwin is dead, long live Darwin

200 Years since Darwin died. Not long enough aparently. It seems the people of the world are still having trouble accepting the theories that he put forth. Let's talk about the two major ones he used:

A Youn Charles DarwinNatural Selection: This is the idea that over the course of time nature chooses which animals survive and which do not. It's more focused on individual animals than entire species. The selection is if this specific animal is selected to survive or not. Some of the major criteria for selection are:

  • Poor Fitness - An animal might have a defect, did not develop properly or is deficient in some way when compared to others of the species. These sub-prime animals are more likely to be eaten by predators, become ill and are less able to compete for resources with the rest of it's species.
  • Good Fitness - It might have an advantage by being better developed or be better suited to compete for resources.
  • Genetic Traits - Some recessive traits can surface at times that can give an advantage or disadvantage to a particular animal.
  • Disease, Famine & the like - Some animals in a species will be better suited to survive these events and some are not.

All of these processes favor one individual over the other ensuring that the animals with the best traits have the highest probability of survival. Polar Bears are a good example of this right now. Those bears that have learned to fend for themselves on land will do better than those who still cling to the water.

Evolution: This is the aggregate effects of Natural Selection. Here are some key processes of evolution:

  • Inheritance - The animal that has the best odds of surviving to adulthood will pass on its genetic material. These could be considered the "winners" of the Natural Selection game. As time passes the winners will outbreed the losers and the species will look more like the winners.
  • Adaptation - Since an environments play a key role in the Natural Selection odds game, a species will slowly change to fit its environment. If swimming is an advantage then only the best swimmers win.
  • Evolutionary Tree - If a species is in two different environments the winners for each location will have different traits. If this goes on long enough you will have to call them two different species.

So eventually all species will evolve as time passes. Darwin obsserved this at the Galapagos Islands. He watched the finches. Some had long beaks and some had short. When a drought came only the hard seeds were available and those birds with long beaks had trouble opening these seeds. The short beaked finches had less of a problem so they were the winners and because there were more of them on the Island. If the drought continued long enough only the short beaks would survive.

So how does this relate to religion? Well if all species evolve from a lesser evolved version and that animal in turn evolved from a lesser evolved version then it stands to reason that if you go back in time you will find that similar species evolved from a more generalized species. It also stands to reason that if you go back far enough that you will find that all species evolved from a single form of life. This idea that all life came from the same origins is now called Darwinism. It completely throws out the whole creation thing. If Adam and Eve descended from early hominids then God saying Alakhazam! is all wrong.

And there it is, the evidence is overwhelming and it doesn't bother me in the least. Why? No, I haven't disregarded it and chosen to ignore it. No, I haven't come up with some crazy "God was there all along guiding it" scheme. I just realize that nowhere in my beliefs, scripture or by any other authority in my religion has it been stated that evolution and darwinism is wrong. Wait I could be wrong.

Here's a Bible, lemme check...um...er...aaaaaand...no. It's not in there. Lemme check the Book of Mormon...ah...uh...no. The prophets? Nnnnnnnnnnnope. That's right it's not there and I'm ok with that.

Be evolved.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gay and Prime Minister

Iceland has a gay Prime Minister, whoop dee doo! It's all over the news. "The first world leader who is gay!" And everyone cheers.

The lovely Johanna SigurdardottirI hate to break all your bubbles, but nothing about any of those statements is true. Johanna Sigurdardottir is not the first gay world leader. There are enough leaders who we suspect were gay in the last two centuries that odds are one of them was actually homosexual. Buzzkill on that one.

Next what is implied is that she has been elected to this position as a "gay" candidate. Far from the truth. First off she wasn't elected Prime Minister, the old one stepped down and she was next in line, but she was a gay candidate right?

Wrong, she originally ran in 1978 with her husband (├×orvaldur Steinar J├│hannesson) at her side. She then did a great job as a politician for over 20 years before she married a woman in 2002. If she had started her career in 2002 as a "gay" candidate she would hever have been elected to the position, but a liberal country of 320,000 people is willing to forgive a lifestyle choice of a good and popular politician.

So this first gay leader is actually the most recent politician to be promoted by someone else's incompetence. Not something that screams wow.

Good on Iceland though for not kicking her out in 2002.

Be informed.