Dawkins forceful over monkey business
By MARK BROATCH - SUNDAY STAR TIMES (SSTLIVE.CO.NZ)
Added: Sat, 12 Sep 2009 23:00:00 UTC
PROFESSOR Richard Dawkins gets a lot of stick. The British evolutionary biologist has been criticised for being "Darwin's Rottweiler", that is, for being hectoring, joyless and "fundamentalist" in the service of the evolutionary cause.
But after reading his latest, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence For Evolution, I have to admit to some sympathy with his frustration with what he calls "history-deniers", though not always for his tone and style.
It is disappointing that several hundred years after the dawn of the age of Enlightenment, huge numbers of people still doubt that we share a common ancestor with the ape. Only one in five Americans, for instance, think we do and that no immortal hand framed any symmetry.
The evidence for evolution, as Dawkins demonstrates, is overwhelming. For those who still think "gaps" in the fossil record indicate doubt in the "theory" of evolution, Dawkins trots patiently, though forcefully, though all the proof. He does get sidetracked by the fact that a "theory" in science means something different in everyday life, and posits the more definite term "theorum" before quietly abandoning it. The fossil record is being added to each year and, as Dawkins notes, we are lucky to have any fossils at all. Even if we didn't, we have molecular genetics, radioactive clocks and carbon dating, embryology, palaeontology and biogeographic evidence (the spread of fossils and living creatures just as evolution and plate tectonics predict) to draw from.
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