Another person ignorant about evolution tries to dismiss it

A commenter named “Asyncritus” tried to leave an anti-evolution comment on a post I wrote about how some orchids in China have evolved a scent resembling the alarm pheromone of the honeybees that are the wasps’ prey.

The flower’s scent apparently attracts the wasps looking for prey, and those wasps pollinate the orchids. This clever adaptation, a form of “olfactory mimicry” to help the flowers reproduce, was published in Current Biology. The orchid does not show morphological mimicry like some other “bee orchids, whose flowers have evolved to resemble bees, luring male bees who, in trying to copulate with the mimetic flowers, pollinate them

Here’s a picture of that orchid, Dendrobium sinese, in the Daily Fail (it has not escaped my notice that perhaps the colors of the flower, which look vaguely beelike, might help attract the wasp):

article-1204782-05FA6AB3000005DC-974_468x346

But on to the creationist. Sadly, Asyncritus, apparently knowing very little about evolution, tried to weigh in with this comment:

If this lot doesn’t persuade any unbiassed observer that evolution is a complete nonsense, then I don’t know what will.

How can a plant possibly figure out that this compound is an alarm pheromone secreted by wasps?

And that if it does so figure that out, how does it know that there are such things as wasps?

And that they will come, pick up the pollen and take it to another flower to pollinate it?

Isn’t it obvious that this didn’t evolve ‘by small steps’ and that it is perfectly designed to do the job it does so well?

Get smart, guys.

Asyncritus is the one who should get smart.  Plants—or anything else—don’t figure out how to evolve.  (Plants, for one thing, can’t figure anything out!) If the ancestral orchid had genetic variation that made its scent resemble in some degree the bee pheromone, then it would get pollinated by wasps more often. Such variants would leave more of their genes, and the adaptation would spread. The plant doesn’t need to know that there are pollinating wasps around, either. All that has to happen is that there be mutations in flower odor that attract the wasps. No evolving species has to consciously “know” what it has to do to adapt to the environment.

This misconception—that plants and animals have to figure out how to evolve by sussing out the environment—is surprisingly common, and Asyncritus’s rancor is poorly aimed. He or she is the one who needs to bone up on evolution.

As for the step-by-step evolution of the plant “pheromone,” that remains to be studied. We know what the compound is, for it’s been extracted, structurally identified, and shown to have not only be chemically identical to the alarm pheromone of bees, but also to attract the pollinating wasps. (The compound, by the way, is (Z)-11-eicosen-1-ol.) If this compound evolved from an ancestral compound (presumably via the modification of enzymes that change the structure of organic molecules), then we should be able to find precursor compounds that have other functions in this species or its relatives, and be able to identify the pathway that synthesizes the new attractant.  This need not have happened via a gradual, many step-process, for sometimes single mutations alone can have this effect. (One “big” mutation, for instance, is known to have radically altered flower color in the species Mimulus guttatus versus M. cardinalis.)

I wrote the senior author of the Current Biology paper asking if we know how the “plant pheromone” is made, or what likely precursors there were, but he said that nobody has studied that question. So there’s an evolutionary prediction that can be tested. In the meantime, perhaps Asyncritus can use this “teachable moment” (I hate that term) to bone up on the theory he/she doesn’t understand.

83 Comments

  1. Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    It’s like all those who claim that evolution is all about “coincidence”, that everything which exist is due to just “luck”. Unfortunately many believe that evulotion is just about denying god.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      It’s not, but that’s the end result in any case.

  2. Alex Shuffell
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Has anyone reading this ever met, read or heard a creationist who actually understands evolution? Far too many of them sound like they got their understanding of evolution from Pokemon.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      “Has anyone reading this ever met, read or heard a creationist who actually understands evolution?”

      I think the problem is that understanding evolution makes it hard to reject it, so a creationist understanding evolution is almost an oxymoron.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      If only they had, they would probably sound smarter. For all the whacky stuff in Pokemon, at least the game makes it clear that it holds the study of science in high regard.

      • Walt Jones
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Yes, when my son was at the Pokemon age, he was watching the animated series and a character said, “there are 147 known species of Pokemon, but nobody knows how many there really are.” This was a valuable lesson in science (life is more abundant than we can imagine) as well as economics (the producers are going to continue “finding” new species as long as people keep buying the game/watching the series/ buying merchandise…).

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      I think most Americans, both pro- and anti-evolution have a very poor understanding of it. I know I certainly did. I remember my 7th grade science teacher talking about the peppered moth, but that is the limit of explicit instruction in evolution I got. It wasn’t until the “teach the controversy” issue got hot around 2005 and I had tried to defend evolution online and did a poor job of it that I started to read up about it and suddenly realized how ignorant I was.

      • Alex Shuffell
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        I was the same until I went to Texas a few years ago and found out that creationists exist, then I started playing with them online. They asked lots of awkward questions which directed me to read lots of books I didn’t think I would care about (like WEIT). It only took about two months before I had heard every creationist argument. The difference between us (at one time) and creationists is we acknowledged our ignorance and are curious. The only time I hear of creationists wanting to study evolution is to try and disprove it. Unfortunately for all they mostly go to other creationists (who don’t understand) to learn evolution.

        • moarscienceplz
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          Also, I don’t assume I understand a subject better than the professionals unless I have a whole heck of a lot of evidence that they are blowing smoke.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Most of them function like Terminators sent back in time – read only, no write. :) A good example is Richard Dawkins’s discussion with Wendy that many here are familiar with. You see how it is much more fulfilling for them to construct straw men like evolution is wrong because I never see a rabbit turn into a cat or such. They really have no interest in understanding evolution at all.

      One rare instance where I witnessed an uninformed person actually taken a-back and (I hope) persuaded, happened ~20 years ago on a call in radio show for a local AM talk radio station I usually hated listening to because its announcers spewed anti intellectualism, were thus ignorant about all things and really only cared about football.

      On one rare occasion they weren’t spewing right wing politics or talking about the local sports team and had Jane Goodall in studio; I don’t remember the details but a call in listener began spouting misunderstandings about evolution. Jane politely told the caller that he needed to go back to his books and re-read some things because he had not understood them and then proceeded to explain. The person had no comeback. They were most likely deceived and realized it in that moment. I loved that she recommended that he go back to his books.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        When in fact a rabbit turning into a cat would be the strongest proof for their side.

        These people have no irony.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          True!

    • R J Langley
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I heard somewhere that the original Japanese word translated to ‘evolution for the English language version of Pokémon can also be translated as ‘metamorphosis’ or something similar.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      I have never met a creationist, but from what I read about them they sound willfully ignorant.

      Evolution is intuitive, real, and easily discernible if one thinks about long stretches of time, which are not difficult to imagine.

      Evolution is fact in a way that even gravity is not. Evolution makes sense given physics, chemistry, and biology. Evolution is on the bottom, not on the top…and it is a done deal.

      Why does matter attact other matter? Why do partices have charge? Why do other particles have no charge? I can understand why someone might not be a little confused about physics, but evolution…You have to have an agenda to deny facts.

      • moarscienceplz
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        “I have never met a creationist”

        Oh, I bet you have, you just didn’t know it. I live in “the capital of Silicon Valley” and yet just a few months ago in a Barnes & Noble cafe I met a Pentecostal who not only insisted that human bones had been found commingled with dinosaur bones in the La Brea tar pits (OMG!), but then he started speaking to me in tongues.

        • Posted October 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          just a few months ago in a Barnes & Noble cafe I met a Pentecostal who not only insisted that human bones had been found commingled with dinosaur bones in the La Brea tar pits (OMG!), but then he started speaking to me in tongues

          Yet another reason to choose indie bookstores.

          • moarscienceplz
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

            Fortunately nothing like this has happened there before or since, and this is the only bookstore, chain or indie, anywhere near my side of town so I try to support it.

    • Posted October 26, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      “Has anyone reading this ever met, read or heard a creationist who actually understands evolution?”

      None do, for if they did they would no longer be creationists.

      When I first read the quote from Asyncritus, I assumed it was a joke comment or a Poe. But I guess there really are people out there that are just that stupid. It’s a scary thought.

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    For starts.

    It’s a pretty simple compound – a 20-carbon, mono-unsaturated alcohol. There are enzymes that phosphorylate carboxylic acids, and others that de-phosphorylate them concominently forming the aldehyde, which can then be converted to the alcohol by action of alcohol dehydrogenase. The precursor acid could already be unsaturated, or, perhaps stored in the saturated form to be acted on by a desaturase to generate the pheromone when needed.

    But this is just my working hypothesis. Others may differ.

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      “phosphorylation”
      It is a very important function in brain chemistry. In just reading, processing this sentence, phosphorylation has probably been used many many times.

      I’m generalizing here. But in essence, isn’t biochemistry incredibly complex, wonderful, and beyond the typical primitive “no one ever saw…” methodology of creationists.

      I recommend “101 Theory Drive” by Terry McDermott, for a layman’s understanding of -some- of the biochemistry of the brain.

      • Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        Phosphorylation (and dephosphorylation) is about the most ubiquitous reaction in all cellular machinery, isn’t it? Basically everything uses ATP/ADP/AMP as energy currency in the e-juice contained in the phosphate bonding, while NAD and its phosphorylation to/from NADPH plays a similarly central role in metabolism (in a jillion places) methinks.

        • Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          And the presence of all this incredibly* similar biochemistry in both plants and insects is surely evidence of a common ancestor.

          /@

          * incredible… well, not if you do understand evolution!

          • darrelle
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            Or evidence of a lazy ass unimaginitive god who, given its purported abilities, could have had all kinds of fun coming up with a myriad of exotic bio-chemistries, instead just used the same template over and over.

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

              Not to mention all the time on his hands…

  4. peltonrandy
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    As much as I dislike creationist nonsense, I do enjoy the education I receive whenever one of them prompts Jerry to respond.

  5. E.A. Blair
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    “Asyncritus can use this “teachable moment” (I hate that term) to bone up on the theory he/she doesn’t understand.”

    I seriously doubt that this shall ever happen. Would it be a cheap shot to say that the only “bone” involved here is the solid mass of ossified material Asyncritus has where other people have brains?

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Yep. I do love it though, when some god-soaked loudmouth tries to tell a professional biologist that he doesn’t understand the very foundations of his profession.

      • moarscienceplz
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        “Yep” means I agree with you, not that it would be a cheap shot.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        It never ceases to amaze me how many people never seem to consider that if there belief varies so hugely from that of a large number of experts, that just perhaps that is evidence that their belief is what is in error.

        • Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          It never ceases to amaze me how many people never seem to consider that if there belief varies so hugely from that of a large number of experts, that just perhaps that is evidence that their belief is what is in error.

          It not only doesn’t occur to them, they actively reject considering it.

          I’ve used the argument against climate-change deniers that “if 98% if aeronautics experts said a plane was unsafe to fly, would you book a flight on it anyway?”

          Their response, inevitably is a testy “We’re not talking about airplanes . . .”

          • darrelle
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

            “Their response, inevitably is a testy “We’re not talking about airplanes . . .””

            Indeed! And they are right! They, at least, are talking about their religious beliefs.

            And unpacking that type of response, what they are stating is that evolution (or physics, chemistry, history . . .) is not compatible with their religious beliefs and therefore, by fiat, wrong. Neatly demonstrating that they understand that the accommodationist claim that “science and religion are compatible” is bullshit.

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

              Great point!

          • Darth Dog
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            I had the same experience with one of the faithful when discussing the power of prayer and how “God can do anything”. I asked whether before they got on an airliner they would feel better if a holy person prayed for their safety or if an airline mechanic serviced the engines. I got the same sarcastic “Well airplanes are different, of course!” Silly me.

            Must be something about airplanes. Maybe it’s because they’re so close to heaven part of the time.

            • Posted October 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

              Probably has more to do them being iron chariots….

              b&

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

                …driven by amputees.

          • Timothy Hughbanks
            Posted October 26, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            Ah. but aeronautics experts aren’t the types to engage in grant grubbing conspiracies, unlike geophysicists, atmospheric chemists, geologists, marine biologists, oceanographers, …

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

          It never ceases to amaze me that the same people who are revolted at the thought that we are related to every other living thing on this planet just as vehemently insist that were are descended from a pile of dirt

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

            Dirt & a slightly used rib.

            • Posted October 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

              I just had rib tips (and brisket) for lunch. Does that count?

              b&

  6. Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Are you sure Asyncritus isn’t pulling our legs?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Your comment made me momentarily imagine us as one collective centipede! :)

      Could be a poe but unlikely. It would be a lesson to put a relevant emoticon in your message if that were the case.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Oh but the best Poes are supposed to be indistinguishable from their targets, eh?

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Would that be a human centipede?

    • Servetus
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Oh, he’s real all right

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Aye caramba!

      • Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Oh, he’s real all right

        Well, stone my timbers and shiver my crows — his comment read so perfectly like a parody that I was quite jealous I hadn’t written it myself.

        • Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

          Never misunderstimate the power of Poe’s Law.

          …which is why, when it comes to laws, I prefer Cole’s….

          b&

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:36 am | Permalink

        OK, that (Servetus’ post above) was a link to Asyncritus’ blog. But it was worth reading because of Dasyatis’s excellent reply where he set out an excellent and clearly explained summary of evolutionary theory (so far as I can tell). Be interesting to know if the biologists here agree…?

  7. Stephen Barnard
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    This would be an extremely odd and indirect way for an intelligent designer to get orchids pollinated.

  8. MNb
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    “that plants and animals have to figure out how to evolve by sussing out the environment”
    The Abrahamistic religions are infested with teleological thinking.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      I think this is (one of) the key point(s). Searching for agency (a well-known phenomenon with a parsimonious evolutionary explanation) leads to seeing some god (which one depends on how one was raised) behind every action (yahweh created man, thor’s hammer makes thunder, the local river nymph causes whatever it is that river nymphs cause, etc).

      Coming from a creationist background, I remember how much intellectual effort it took to understand natural selection, with its two key points that (1) living things adapt to their environment, not consciously but by the fact that those better adapted in any generation leave, on the average, more offspring, and that therefore (2) we need to think historically, not teleologically.

      Once you get past the bulk misunderstandings of evolution that most creationists have–stupid stuff like “the ladder of progress” and “why are there still monkeys”–what you find is that creationists do not understand, and most are not even familiar with the concept of natural selection. As a result, any argument they might make against evolution is necessarily a straw man.

  9. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    subadub.

  10. Sastra
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    All the rhetorical questions ought to just be questions — asked one at a time and then actually listen to the answers.

  11. uglicoyote
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Road.

  12. freethinkinfranklin
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    What was your responce to the Asyncritus post?

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      This!

      /@

      • freethinkinfranklin
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        there was no response to Asyncritus post so he could actually learn something?? reacting to his post here is no more then preaching to the choir and correct me if i’m wrong , all here in this choir already know all the words.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

          Apparently he has already failed to learn something on the nakedscience and Dawkins’ forums.

          And Jerry just told him all he needs to know, really:
          “If the ancestral orchid had genetic variation that made its scent resemble in some degree the bee pheromone, then it would get pollinated by wasps more often. Such variants would leave more of their genes, and the adaptation would spread.”

  13. Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Asyncritus has apparently confused Darwin with a bad parody of Lamarck….

    b&

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      lamarck, n. an offhand dismissal of a scientific principle based on a popular notion, e.g., “common sense”. (From Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, by analogy to “remark”, based on the notion that a stupid idea can pass on its characteristics to a scientifically valid theory).

  14. frank43
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    It wouldn’t take any big evolutionary jump to make this at all. The compound (as an ester) is a component of plant waxes (which is may be how it gets into the bees in the first place – they ingest it).

    Its biochemical production from the fatty acid involves formation of an acyl-coA derivative with ATP as an energy source/intermediate, followed by NADPH-dependant reduction to the alcohol. So all that had to happen was an alteration of the pathway for wax formation so that the plant produced a significant amount of the alcohol.

    As usual, the creationists don’t have a clue about Biology, for which they are to be pitied. In fact this is what p***ses me off most about them – they take something wonderful and make it boring and ugly.

    I apologize to all the non-biochemists to whom I have given nightmares about grad school, but this is way too good to pass up.

  15. andreschuiteman
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    There is a Vietnamese Dendrobium species, D. trantuanii, where the lip actually looks like an insect. Nobody knows how it is pollinated.

    Here is a link to a good photo:

    http://www.orchidspecies.com/dentuananhii.htm

  16. Darth Dog
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    “…How can a plant possibly figure out that this compound is an alarm pheromone secreted by wasps?…”

    Clearly this guy doesn’t believe in physics either. Why, if you threw a rock up in the air, the rock would have to know how to solve a differential equation to know what trajectory to take. Clearly rocks aren’t that smart.

    • John Taylor
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

      It must be angels that guide the rock. Angels are probably really good at math.

  17. marcusa1971
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I, who have no scientific credentials, personally find the idea that the passage of time is relative to the speed at which an object moves through space offensive. This idea is an affront to my human dignity. Anyone who accepts this “truth” of science is immoral and will be tortured for eternity after they die. I plan to open a museum to confirm to any visitors that the passage of time remains the same no matter how fast one is moving. I also dislike the idea that the speed of light is the limit at which information can travel through space. If I want to go faster than the speed of light, I should be able to. That is my right as an Australian, and I won’t let any “scientists” tell me otherwise.

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Lemme guess. You’re Tony Abbott, aren’t you?

      • marcusa1971
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

        Ha! No, but now that you mention it, I think I was channeling him when I wrote my post.

        • michieux
          Posted October 26, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          Almost had me fooled…

    • BillyJoe
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      “I, who have no scientific credentials, personally find the idea that the passage of time is relative to the speed at which an object moves through space offensive”

      I know you are joking, but you have mangled the science anyway (but, then, you did say you have no scientific credentials).

      Objects don’t move relative to space, they move relative to other objects in space. If the distance between two objects, A and B, is increasing, it is as true to say that A is moving away from B at speed S as it is to say that B is moving away from A at speed S. And, if A and B are astronauts in spaceships, their clocks will be running at the same rate. The situation of A relative to B, and B relative to A, is symmetrical.

      The problem comes when one or both of those objects accelerates.

      • marcusa1971
        Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:12 am | Permalink

        I should have known that I would mangle the physics. Thanks for the correction.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:23 am | Permalink

          It makes the poe all the better I think!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      Now THAT’S how a poe is done right!

  18. Mori
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    The problem human beings have with concepts like this seems related to the anthropic principle. It’s the reason why people invented nature spirits to operate the sun and the moon, and make rain and wind: a human being manipulates their environment, and so reasons that all things in the environment must be “operated” in order to function. It is projecting human qualities onto nature.

    Thus, a human being reasons that a flower “figures out” how to attract insects. The confusion is practically below the threshold for conscious thought. People are, essentially, sand poured into a vase that marvels at how the vase is perfectly shaped to fit the sand.

    It can be extremely difficult to get some people past this kind of thinking and to make them grasp self-organizing systems and principles like natural selection. Once you do grasp it, it seems surprisingly intuitive – another remarkable feature of the human brain. Capable of remapping its own frame of reference so that what was naturally counter-intuitive becomes intuitive.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      I think you meant that humans have a habit of inadvertently anthropomorphising. In this case, however, scientists are deliberately anthropomorphising in order to make a point succinctly.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      It’s also just easier to talk about things this way. Often we talk about computers executing code as behaving in human ways. I’ve even talked to mine and asked it aloud what’s wrong with it while trouble shooting an issue.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        I have a tendency to anthropomorphize car parts. That is to say, I frequently ask** some recalcitrant bolt to please fit into the appropriate hole.
        (** ‘ask’ there is a euphemism. A very substantial euphemism in fact.)

        But back to the point – it is often much quicker and easier to follow to say that the flower ‘wants’ the wasp to visit it, rather than laying it out in full every time that flowers which have characteristics that make them attractive to wasps will be favoured by more visits et cetera…
        So long as we understand it’s a metaphorical usage.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 27, 2013 at 2:20 am | Permalink

          You understand it, I understand it, but there will always be some pedant who comes along with the lecture… *grumble*

  19. Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    This is rather interesting, and yet again confirms one aspect of Darwin’s theory. In chapter 6 of Origin of Species, Darwin wrote: “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.”

    If species were created, why wouldn’t the Creator choose to make plants and animals with the one thing natural selection can never produce: true altruism that transcends the species level? Why not make wasps genuinely altruistic instead of making plants that engage in something resembling trickery? The complete absence of this sort of altruism is exactly what natural selection predicts, but is inexplicable (and perhaps even negatively predicted) under creationism.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      Because God is not that stupid. He knows that such a species would be rapidly eliminated from the gene pool. (;

  20. michieux
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    It’s so sad to see folks parade their ignorance like a badge of honour. I fervently hope your correspondent does her or himself a favour and reads WEIT.


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